RESIDENTS welcomed the idea of banning cars from the city centre at a public meeting about the future of development in Salisbury on Monday.

Scores of people packed into the Guildhall to discuss Salisbury’s fledgling Neighbourhood Plan.

They were asked what they liked and disliked about the city and what improvements they would most like to see.

Positives included the cathedral views, the feeling of safety, the variety of buildings and green spaces, the nearby countryside, the water meadows, history and culture, riverside walks, the arts scene and its independent shops.

Negatives included traffic and its impact on air quality, the lack of joined-up cycle routes, and a lack of high-quality jobs for young people.

People also said too many indepedent shops were closing, streets were poorly maintained and parking was too expensive. The amount of business space being turned into older people’s housing was also a cause for concern, as was the risk of severe flooding.

A huge show of hands went up in support of pedestrianising the city centre.

Architect and former government adviser Nicholas Boys Smith gave a presentation on neighbourhood planning and chaired the discussion on the issues facing Salisbury.

City council leader Matthew Dean said he was “absolutely delighted” with the level of interest shown by the Salisbury public.

He said: “The key message I received loud and clear was ‘look after the suburbs, it’s not just about the city centre’, and I promise that we will do that.”

The plan - which will trigger a local referendum, could take up to two years to complete, Cllr Dean said, adding that he would rather end up with a “good quality, comprehensive document” rather than trying to rush something through.

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