PLANS for major changes to Cirencester’s Market Place have been unanimously approved by councillors.

All 15 councillors on Cotswold District Council’s (CDC) planning committee voted in favour of the decades-in-the-making scheme yesterday morning.

Cirencester Town Council’s project will see the area outside the parish church pedestrianised to allow people to walk around the different shopping areas with more ease, and the new bigger space would be used for markets and other events.

Traffic in Market Place will flow two-way on the south side, and Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) will be asked to reduce the current speed limit of 20mph.

After the decision, Martin Portus, of Portus and Whitton, the designer of the new look Market Place, said: “There are some listed buildings around the Market Place and the scheme will make the pavement and surfaces reflect the characters of the building.

“It will remove the unnecessary dual carriageway and build a new public realm which will revitalise the town and its historic centre.”

During the meeting, Cllr Joe Harris said: “This shared space is going to be a new experience for people. A lot of thought has gone into the design of the bollards and that goes back to the design of bells and that goes back to the 12 bells which we have in the Parish Church.”

There will be fewer parking spaces in total, with 18 for the public and four for disabled badge-holders, but they would all be available during market days, which is not currently the case with the existing 42 general spaces and four disabled bays.

Cllr Sue Coakley pointed out that the taxi rank opposite Barclays bank would have to be removed and asked where cabs will park. She was told that the taxi rank will be relocated to nearby South Way.

Traffic-lights at the junction of Market Place and Castle Street will be removed, with the aim of giving the area a more free-flowing feel.

Castle Street will become one-way, going east towards Market Place, and GCC will be asked to lower the speed limit from 20mph, while there will be nine more parking spaces on the road.

Buses which currently go west along Castle Street will be re-routed along Lewis Lane, Querns Lane and Sheep Street.

While there will still be a bus service both ways along Market Place.