Southampton City Council unveils game-changing plans to transform transport and public spaces in city centre

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The £18.5m plans are part of the council's Transforming Cities programme 

Southampton City Council has revealed the full details of its £18.5m project to overhaul transport and public spaces in Southampton city centre. The proposals, which are part of the council’s ambitious Transforming Cities programme, focus on transforming gateways into the city centre and creating a greener, more inviting environment for everyone living, working and spending time there.

The flagship of this multi-million-pound programme is the proposed conversion of New Road - currently a major thoroughfare through the city centre - into a bus/taxi/cycle only route between Park Walk to the west and East Park Terrace/Palmerston Road to the east. Access to Park Walk will be maintained under these plans. The changes will reduce unnecessary through traffic in the middle of the city centre, providing a safer, more pleasant environment for people travelling on foot and by bike and supporting more efficient bus journeys on the route. The changes will also create stronger ties between the city’s parks and between the Cultural Quarter and the high street – areas currently disjointed by the existing New Road layout.

Adjustments to the Six Dials junction to the east will support these changes to New Road, reducing the number of lanes passing through the junction – particularly those travelling towards New Road westbound, where the new vehicle restrictions are proposed. The narrowing of lanes, traffic signal upgrades and improved crossing facilities all feature in the plans for the Six Dials junction.

The improvements to New Road will also dovetail with other plans for Civic Centre Place, which under the proposals is set to undergo a dramatic transformation that will vastly improve the public space and how people move around within it. Civic Centre Place is currently a large signalised junction with a wide carriageway leading in an east-west direction across the front of the Civic Centre. At present, it is largely dominated by vehicles and difficult to negotiate for people walking and cycling. Proposals to remove traffic signals, widen the footways and install new crossing facilities and cycle lanes will address these issues head on, reducing conflicts with passing traffic and greatly improving access for people walking and cycling as well as for buses.

The combination of these changes, alongside other public realm improvements, will re-capture the people-focused essence that has been lost over time and create a more liveable, vibrant and stimulating environment where people can move around safely, easily and sustainably. In line with the council’s plans to transform gateways into the city centre, these improvements will establish Civic Centre Place as a distinct entry point into the heart of the city, marking a clear transition between this public space and the adjoining Northern Ring Road.

To support these innovative changes to New Road and Civic Centre Place, the A3024 Northern Ring Road is also set to undergo a series of improvements, beginning with the proposed changes to Devonshire Road and Grosvenor Square that have recently been consulted on. As well as improved pedestrian crossings and a number of targeted junction improvements, traffic signals on the route will also be upgraded with dynamic technology and their overall number reduced. These changes will improve journey times for people driving on the route and enhance the strategic function of the ring road in moving traffic efficiently around – rather than directly through – the city centre. This will ensure that the city road network is fit for the future, while allowing space in the very core of the city to prioritise people over vehicles.

Another important focus of the city centre improvements is to transform the experience of people arriving into, and travelling around, the city centre by public transport. The council is looking to achieve this by creating new public transport gateways at key locations around the city centre, including a new multi-modal interchange on the south side of Southampton Central Station. This will offer seamless connections to the port and other parts of the city by providing access to a range of onwards travel options, including new bus and taxi facilities, cycle parking and shared e-mobility such as e-scooter hire. Upgraded crossing facilities and public realm improvements will create a welcoming environment for cruise passengers and other arrivals into the city, while enhancing the space in keeping with existing renovations to the north side of the station and the upcoming regeneration of the nearby Mayflower Quarter. 

Other proposed public transport gateways include a new bus hub at Albion Place on Portland Terrace. This will convert the current car park site into another major interchange providing efficient bus connections into and around the city. Facilities are set to include more bus stops and new waiting facilities, seating, access to real-time travel information and shared e-mobility. Landscaping is also proposed to transform the neighbouring Castle Way car park into an urban park. This will again contribute to a more attractive environment while reflecting the city’s rich heritage and strengthening the site’s connection with the surrounding historic city walls.

To further bolster public transport provision, the council is also proposing new bus lanes on Portland Terrace (between Spa Road and Shopmobility) and on Saltmarsh Road from Itchen Bridge. These will support more reliable bus services while reducing traffic on Portland Terrace and contributing to a cleaner, more enjoyable environment outside WestQuay. Additional proposals are also being considered for Above Bar Street, including new bus stops and waiting facilities, enhancements to the existing taxi rank, access to travel information and shared e-mobility as well as widened pavements, better cycle links and improvements to the public space.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, says of the plans:

“As our population and economy continue to grow, it’s imperative to think differently about transport in Southampton. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a never-before-seen transformation that will re-write the rule book on how people move in and around the city centre. These £18.5m plans outline a bold reimagining of our city centre, reclaiming space for people while ensuring that our road network is well-equipped to boost productivity and support future growth. As ever, my thanks go to our hard-working transport team for their forward-thinking plans that continue to put Southampton at the forefront of sustainable transport innovation.”

Alongside today’s announcement, the council has launched a survey to gather feedback on the city centre plans. Residents, businesses and key stakeholders will be invited in the spring to participate in a series of virtual workshops, which will provide an opportunity to find out more about the proposals, ask questions and share feedback.

Statutory consultations will take place for each individual city centre scheme. The feedback from each of these legal consultations will be analysed and responded to, with a final decision to be made for each scheme by the council in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Green City and Place.

Schemes will be consulted on and delivered in stages. For full details of the city centre programme, including indicative timescales, please visit the council’s transport website.

Sign up for updates on the city centre schemes.