Concerns that pedestrian zone in Hackney Central will kill off trade

A mock-up of what the Narrow Way/ Mare Street after pedestrianisation. The council claims it will br

A mock-up of what the Narrow Way/ Mare Street after pedestrianisation. The council claims it will breathe life into the shops on Mare Street. Picture: Studio Weave, Architects - Credit: Archant

The pedestrianisation of a central thoroughfare in Hackney at the weekend has been met with mixed views from residents, commuters and traders.

The top end of Mare Street, which is known as Narrow Way, was closed on Saturday in a trial scheme by Hackney Council until January to “breathe new life” into its high street.

As part of a £2million regeneration, the council has launched a six-month cultural programme featuring events and improving the public space in Narrow Way with plants and benches.

However, not all traders have been enthusiastic about the changes – including those in nearby Amhurst Road where 15 bus routes have been rerouted resulting in parking and loading bays being replaced with bus stops.

Blake Montel, of AMP Electrical Wholesaler in Amhurst Road, said: “On Saturday, business was quieter than normal. Monday and Tuesday have both been quiet. This is because of the new bus stop. There’s nowhere for the customers to park. A few customers have phoned up to say they were coming to the store but couldn’t find anywhere to park. The nearest parking is now 200 yards away but there are no signs telling customers that.”

He added: “The pedestrianisation scheme may help traders on Narrow Way but it’s not helping traders in Amhurst Road. We’re struggling now.”

Rory MacQueen, 32, who travels from Islington to Hackney, said: “I don’t understand why they are moving traffic from one street to another and taking people away from shops.”

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However, Billy Reading, 33, of Martello Street, welcomed the changes, saying: “It’s got to be a good thing but it needs some urban design solutions to make the best of the space.”

A council spokesman said the trial changes have “started off very positively”.

He said: “Traffic is flowing without any major congestion and our team of volunteers were on hand over the weekend and this week to guide people to the new bus stops and provide leaflets mapping the changes.”

Cultural events start on June 28 including food markets, live music and fetes.