IMPROVEMENTS to a busy shopping area in Salisbury began on Monday as part of a scheme geared at making the city more pedestrian friendly.

The works in New Canal are expected to take 20 weeks and include widening of pavements, ground resurfacing and changes to parking.

The road is closed to general traffic while the work is going on but taxis will be able to park there and it will also be open to delivery vehicles.

Dick Tonge, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “New Canal currently has some narrow pavements and it can be difficult for people to get around. “These improvements will make it much easier for people to enjoy this part of Salisbury. “We have put measures in place to help while this necessary work goes on.”

Once completed, there will be ten off-street disabled parking spaces and two disabled on-street spaces. There will also be 11 taxi rank spaces and two spaces made available for community buses and the council-funded market bus services. A third bus stop will be introduced in New Canal for the market bus services to pick up and set down passengers. Tourist coaches will be encouraged to use Mill Stream coach park or the Britford park and ride site and the council is working with the motorbike community to provide new spaces in the town.

The scheme also involves better street lighting and provision for 24 bikes.

Richard Clewer, Salisbury Area Board chairman said: “It’s important that everyone can enjoy our beautiful city and this work will improve access for all people.

“This is part of a wider scheme of works and the changes being made in Salisbury will improve the overall visitor experience.”

Work on the Market Place, which will see it become completely pedestrianised, is due to start in March.