Drivers will be banned from a seafront to make way for a new Spanish-inspired plaza – in a bid to create the best coastal town for walkers and cyclists.
The divisive proposals - costing £250,000 – will see a stretch of Central Parade in Herne Bay accessible only for pedestrians.
Kent County Council (KCC) bosses believe banning traffic along part of Central Parade, Herne Bay, and laying down a one-way system in the surrounding streets will “boost the local economy and encourage more trips to the town’s pier”.
Originally, KCC transport chiefs rubber-stamped the proposals during a crunch meeting last year.
But the scheme was recently set in stone after the authority secured government funding, with the works set to be complete by the end of autumn.
As plans progress, barriers will be set up to prevent traffic travelling through Central Parade between the junctions with Pier Avenue and Station Road, drawings show.
Motorists will also be prohibited from driving westbound along part of the route running from Lane End to Dolphin Street.
Meanwhile, stretches of St George’s Terrace, Station Road, Richmond Street and Pier Avenue will be among those made one-way.
Works could begin as early as the next few months, explained county councillor Dan Watkins (Cons).
“The last thing we want to do is cause disruption over the summer holidays; it’s a crucial time for businesses,” he added.
“There’ll be a few days here and there in the summer but the majority of the works will take place in autumn after the school holidays.
“The rationale for the whole project remains the same - we want to make changes for the benefit of Herne Bay.”
The update comes after Active Travel England approved proposals to include a larger 20mph zone than first suggested after residents responded positively to the idea.
As part of the scheme – called the Kent Active Travel project – KCC had originally planned to create a 20mph zone between Central Parade and King’s Road.
It is believed plans to implement the plaza and a new segregated cycle and walking path between Station Road and the seafront will take priority - though officials are yet to comment on the exact details.
If all goes to plan, works could be complete by the end of the year, with the implementation of an intricate one-way system on the surrounding roads set to accompany the changes.
When asked about the appeal of the proposals to businesses and residents of the seaside town, Cllr Watkins was firm in his belief the town would benefit from the plaza.
“The plaza and cycle route adds to the visitor attraction aspect of things - people want a nice environment to shop, eat and drink,” he said.
“It will help the streets become cleaner, quieter and ultimately greener, which can only be a good thing.
“These changes will help Herne Bay to become one of the best seaside towns - if not the best seaside town - for walkers and cyclists.”
Despite the positivity from council officials about the scheme, public opinion proved to be split over the idea after last year’s consultation.
More than half of the 183 people who completed the questionnaire either “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed” with the plan as a whole.
Meanwhile, about 45% of those who took part in the consultation – which ran from the middle of September and into early October last year – “strongly agreed” or “agreed” with the proposals.
Speaking to KentOnline last year, Spenser Road resident Michael Taylor told of his belief the changes would be “counter-productive”.
He said: “The seafront is where all the people who pour in for the weekend go.
“There are no tourist facilities elsewhere for tourists, so closing part of the road could turn people off. It feels counter-productive.”
However, Roger Good, of Herne Avenue, spoke in favour of the council’s vision for the seafront.
“If part of the road is pedestrianised, it would cut traffic down in that area,” he explained.
The pedestrianisation will also trigger the removal of several parking spots in Central Parade, including three disabled bays.
KCC, however, insists there will be no loss of facilities for the disabled through the project.
A spokesperson for KCC Highways previously told KentOnline: “We are looking to install disabled bays in close proximity to the existing disabled parking bays.
“There is to be no planned formal loss of disabled parking along Central Parade.
“We are also looking to expand the accessibility at each end of the pedestrianised section. These proposals are currently being worked into the scheme’s detailed design.”