MORE than £1m has been set aside for the pedestrianisation of Queen Street - which would involve buses being permanently removed.

The county council and city council wanted to pedestrianise the busy street due to an increase in shoppers using the £440m Westgate Centre, which opened in October 2017.

But in 2017 Transport Secretary Chris Grayling turned down the county council’s closure request and the street is now being monitored, before the local authority will consider making another request.

The 18-month ‘trial period’ comes to an end in April but Liberal Democrat county councillor is urging the councils to allow buses to remain in Queen Street for the time being.

The Oxford Times:

He said: “I do think they should leave well alone - there have not been any accidents involving buses and pedestrians and if you take buses out of Queen Street it will mean more buses in St Aldate’s, which is already overloaded with buses and heavily polluted.

“I can’t see the Department for Transport allowing pedestrianisation to go ahead when the only advantage would be a bus-free frontage at the Westgate Centre.”

READ AGAIN: Removing buses from Queen Street 'would be a mistake'

An experimental order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 came into effect for Queen Street on October 24, 2017, the day the Westgate Centre opened, allowing buses to continue to use the street while the situation is monitored.

The city council has set aside £500,000 for the pedestrianisation scheme in its 2019/2020 budget while the county council earmarked £734,000 should the scheme get the go-ahead.

The Oxford Times:

Oxford Bus Company says it is determined to try to keep buses in Queen Street.

READ MORE: How the shops in Oxford's Queen Street have changed over the years

Director Phil Southall said: “Queen Street remains subject to a monitoring period by Oxfordshire County Council and the current arrangement has worked well for more than a year without any issues - safety related or otherwise. In that time footfall in the city centre has increased and we remain open to discussions on how a closure might be achieved.

“However, keeping Queen Street open to buses is vital unless additional infrastructure is added for buses to turn and the pressure put on other streets is duly considered and alternative routeing and stopping arrangements are agreed. If no additional action is taken to facilitate the closure of Queen Street to buses as previously outlined then we will robustly defend its closure using all the channels available to us.”

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: "The data collection period has ended and we are in the process of analysing the data.

"At this stage we have not reached any conclusions but we are actively considering the matter and will be looking at the next steps in the near future.

"The county council has had £1.47m allocated in its capital programme for some time - since 2017-  to the Queen Street pedestrianisation project. This figure is not solely for Queen Street itself as it includes work on the wider network that would support full pedestrianisation of the street if that is taken forward."