Stevenage’s Lytton Way could face a car ban to “provide the seeds for high-quality regeneration” in the town.

Under plans supported by the borough council’s cabinet, only buses and taxis would be allowed along the full length of the A602 between the police station and Tesco.

The road would be narrowed to make way for a proposed public square, new station entrance and an east-west “boulevard” between the railway and town centre.

By doing away with some surface car parks, space could open up for developers to put forward their own mixed-use Station Gateway proposals.

According to an Area Action Plan, “the area around Stevenage station is compromised by poor access and linkages for pedestrians, and over-dominant car infrastructure”.

There are “few uses and activities beyond the station and associated car parking”, it continues, while the public realm is “unattractive” with “no opportunity for street life”.

Stevenage Borough Council’s cabinet has noted this gives the town a “poor image” and passengers “little comfort” when they arrive.

Councillor Simon Spellar (Lab, Shephall), who is responsible for environment at the authority, presented the plans to his cabinet colleagues on Tuesday, July 18.

“This is about unlocking the incredible potential of our town,” he said.

“This will be gateway by name, gateway by nature.

“I am deeply committed to proper planning.”

Borough leaders considered four options for Stevenage Gateway – among them doing nothing and creating an entirely traffic-free plaza.

A 2023 consultation with 461 respondents found complete pedestrianisation might set aside “additional space for antisocial behaviour” and extend bus journey times, but may also create a “fabulous place to be”.

Some respondents questioned whether shutting the A602 could create problems around the Tesco entry point, or make it harder to drop-off at the station, which has car parks either side of the railway.

But a total 48 per cent of the respondents “completely supported” or had a “mostly yes” response to shutting Lytton Way to car drivers but keeping it open for bus and taxi passengers.

“It would considerably reduce the feeling I get of being oppressed by the traffic in that part of the town by reducing noise, the amount of traffic and the overriding necessity to watch out,” one respondent said.

Another suggested the plan would offer a “nicer welcome into Stevenage” while a third said London King’s Cross would be a good model for the town’s station – surrounded by sports facilities for residents with the Pancras Square swimming pool, the “vibrant” Central St Martins university campus, places for shopping such as Waitrose and Canopy Market, and green space.

Almost 20 per cent of respondents said they wanted to see cultural facilities near the station, with 11 per cent calling for more retail in the area.

Hertfordshire County Council also supported the move, if it can secure mitigation measures for any knock-on impacts for surrounding streets.

“The objectives around enhanced movement and access for all modes, ensuring effective interchange with the bus station, is key,” the county council’s team told the borough.

“It addresses a number of objectives, removing the majority of vehicles from in front of the station, helping reduce severance with the town centre.”

At the July 18 meeting, Cllr Lloyd Briscoe (Lab, Martins Wood) pointed to a part of the report which said modal shift – away from cars and towards buses, trains, walking and cycling – is crucial to a working scheme.

He quoted the report: “Without major behaviour change and modal shaft, there are potential risks of causing significant congestion.”

Before the authority makes any changes, it will run another consultation on more detailed plans as part of the 2024 Local Plan Review.