A CONTROVERSIAL traffic order will now be made permanent in Winchester city centre.

Since July 2013, Great Minster Street and Market Lane have been subject to experimental Traffic Regulation Orders.

A 6’ 0” width restriction with no access exemptions was introduced to Great Minster Street, and two-way traffic allowed in Market Lane between St Maurice’s Covert and its junction with Market Street.

The measures, which were last week (March 5) unanimously approved by Winchester city councillors at the Traffic and Parking committee, were not welcomed by shop owners last January.

They said passing traffic encouraged more shoppers, and the measures would see an almost 25 per cent drop in trade.

Councillors disagreed however, and the plans will now be made permanent, with the council reporting no traffic management problems resulting from the changes.

Only one objection letter was received following the introduction of the order, relating to concerns about the potential impact on disabled people accessing the city centre.

This has since been assessed, with no issues observed by the council.

Cllr Victoria Weston, portfolio holder for built environment, said: “It’s about making The Square a much nicer place and that is what we are trying to achieve.”

The order, which is jointly funded by Hampshire County and Winchester City Councils, was also welcomed by local ward representative Cllr Ian Tait, who said: “I wholeheartedly support it.”