CARS are set to be permanently banned from Colchester High Street, the Gazette can reveal.

The vehicles were originally banned in June 2020 to increase space for pedestrians and enable social distancing as retailers reopened following the first national lockdown.

Buses, taxis, blue badge holders and motorbikes are still able to use the High Street, but general traffic has since been unable to between 7am and 7pm.

Essex County Council has now issued a public notice stating it is set to make the move permanent, with an objection period set to end on April 15.

The rules will remain from the Head Street junction to the Museum Street junction as the roads authority is set to rubber-stamp the divisive move.

Drivers will not be able to access High Street from junctions at Maidenburgh Street, East Stockwell Street, West Stockwell Street and George Street.

A letter from Essex Highways states: “Following temporary restriction introduced in 2020, an extensive engagement and consultation has been undertaken with local stakeholders in order to develop a set of permanent restrictions.

“The proposals will see restrictions to Colchester High Street to promote it as a highly attractive area for pedestrians, shoppers, visitors and businesses.

“Walking and cycling connections will be improved on a key route to facilitate safer journeys north to south and east to west.”

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But in a poll run by the Gazette last year, 61 per cent of readers said they felt the decision should be reverted and not made permanent.

And in October 2020 campaigner Peter Kay, of Colchester Bus Users’ Support Group, said many people were flouting the rules after recording 120 cars using the road in a single hour.

Douglas Broom, of Mill Road, Colchester, says the car ban has caused traffic to build-up heavily in Head Street.

He said: “Despite three lanes feeding traffic into Head Street, there is only one lane out of it. Constant use of the pedestrian crossing adds to the hold-ups.

“Here’s a solution - remove the barriers between Culver Street and High Street and allow all traffic into High Street.

“The High Street cannot be pedestrianised, so why not let anyone use it?”