A street in Wakefield city centre will be pedestrianised to make way for outdoor cafe culture

Wakefield Council is creating a permanent pedestrian square in the city centre to enhance cafe culture.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 11:43 am
Updated Thursday, 12th August 2021, 11:53 am
Cross Square will be pedestrianised

The council said business owners have given strong support to pedestriansing Cross Square near Wakefield Cathedral.

The plan will make it safer for pedestrians and allow cafes to take their tables outside.

Work will start this weekend, to make changes to the layout, including installing planters and seating in the closed area.

Coun Denise Jeffery, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are ambitious for our district and this is an exciting way to support a developing cafe culture that will enhance our city centre so that it is a welcoming place for residents and visitors.

“We welcome fresh ideas and ways of doing things as we continue to support our district’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We can support local businesses and I urge everyone to enjoy our city centre – come and eat drink and shop locally.”

Coun Matthew Morley, cabinet member for planning and highways, said: “This is a really positive plan for the area, which has the potential to help local businesses to grow as well as providing residents with a vibrant outdoor space that is safe to socialise.

“It also supports our plans to develop more opportunities for active travel, supporting people, in this case, to get in and around our city centre on foot.”

Currently, Cross Square is restricted as a pedestrian area from 10am to 4pm.

The new measures will mean it will become permanently pedestrianised. The council said it carried out a survey with business owners who gave strong support for the changes.

Lisa Wright, a joint director of cafe Marmalade on the Square, said: “We’re all for it, it will be great. With planters and lights in the trees it will look so much nicer – it used to be that you’d have the bin wagon going up the street.

“When you go abroad there is a cafe culture, all the coffee shops are next to each other and we could all take advantage of that idea.

“It will help the other businesses as well that aren’t coffee shops as well.

“When you look up from the cathedral, sometimes people don’t walk up the street as far as up we are but if there are tables and chairs outside it will help us.

“It’s a nice area up here, going all the way over to where Qubana is, and I think the plan will benefit everyone.”

Dawn Dainton, owner of Mr and Mrs C’s, said: “It’s been restricted how many tables we can have outside so that access being blocked will give us a much better outside area.

“There will be more seating for customers and the opportunity to eat outside if they prefer.

“It looks really nice around the cathedral. It has a really nice atmosphere when the sun is shining and the tables are out.

“I think it will bring more people into the area.”

Work is due to start on Sunday and is expected to last for about a fortnight. Businesses can apply for licences to extend their outdoor seating space.

It’s not the first time the council has tried to pedestrianise a street.

Last summer the council decided to pedestrianise Northgate from The Bullring to Cross Street to encourage cafe-bar style outdoor dining.

Some businesses on the street argued against the move at the time but the scheme was introduced on a temporary basis.

But after visiting the businesses who work on Northgate and listening to their concerns, the local authority reopend the road. The council is convinced that the right kind of consultation has been carried out this time round and that the move has the support of businesses.