Councillors, residents and environmental groups have voiced their opinions following the announcement that Castle Street will reopen to all cars this autumn.
The main road across Cardiff's city centre was shut last summer to all traffic and used as a dining area, later opening in the autumn to just buses and taxis .
A major consultation was held this spring to find out whether the public wanted the road reopened to private motor vehicles or kept as is.
On Thursday, June 17, Cardiff council's cabinet is set to approve the road reopening to private cars. However, some have hit out against the reopening of the road.
The council said that of the 6,227 responses to the consultation, 53.8% wanted the road reopened to private cars, while 33.8% wanted them kept off it. Respondents aged over 55 were heavily in favour of reopening the road to private cars, while those aged under 35 were generally in favour of keeping it closed.
Councillor Caro Wild took to Twitter to address some concerns about the reopening of the road. He wrote: "A few points on the Castle Street issues. I agree entirely that Castle St is a much nicer place without cars. But as nice as it is, we cannot ignore concerns that the closure causes poorer air quality in nearby residential communities."
Cllr Wild went on to say that the impact on family homes on nearby roads was "not something we can ignore, especially when we know there is no safe limit for poor air quality." He said that the set up the street will be reverting to will not be how it was pre-Covid.
"There will be 2 lanes of traffic instead of 4, with a bus lane and the cycleway remaining. It is what was agreed in our Clean Air Plan - and approved by WG [Welsh Government]," Cllr Wild wrote.
In the Twitter thread, Cllr Wild wrote that the decision around the reopening of Castle Street "isn't final."
"There is too much flux and change still to come. We’ll do more analysis and more testing of alternatives. We’ll also be looking seriously at forms of road user charging, used to fund a first-class public transport system," he wrote.
Castle Street is currently just open to taxis and buses with a temporary wider pavement for pedestrians. The council will now tender contracts to change the layout of the road, including making the pavement on the south side narrower, to allow an extra lane of traffic. Construction work is likely to start this summer and finish this autumn.
On Monday she said: "I've been looking at the reopening of Castle Street and that's been an issue on the agenda for quite a while now.
"Obviously, as part of Cardiff Council, but I think something which will send shockwaves across the council and the business community as a cabinet member has tweeted recently saying it's not the final decision, and I quote, 'looking seriously at forms of road user charging.'
"In my opinion, the businesses have suffered significantly with the Covid and the lockdown and again, that's probably not going to end anytime soon, so I think to try and impose a further charge on the motorists to stop people going into the city centre would be devastating."
Prior to the pandemic, pollution levels on Castle Street were breaching legal limits. The amount of nitrous dioxide - a harmful pollutant caused by diesel vehicles - was regularly well over the limit.
This prompted the council to draw up a plan to get cleaner air in the city, by reducing the space for private cars and creating more space for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
The council consulted the public on two options: three lanes of traffic open with private cars allowed, or two lanes open for only buses and taxis. Both options are forecast to reduce air pollution below legal limits.
Councillor Emma Sandrey responded to Cllr Wild's tweets, saying: "Granted no one wants air pollution to be displaced but the reports indicate this will still happen regardless of which option was chosen. Changing infrastructure alone isn't enough, we need behaviour change. Still a battle to be won in terms of changing hearts and minds."
Sign up to the CardiffOnline newsletter to receive our top stories straight to your inbox.
It takes just seconds to sign up - simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
Residents have previously said that the closure of Castle Street has caused huge traffic delays throughout Cardiff, and the reactions to the latest announcement have been mixed.
Ali Abdi took to Twitter to support Cllr Wild's tweets about Castle Street. He wrote: "Definitely agree with Caro here, we must protect local communities from poorer air quality "we cannot ignore concerns." Thank You."
Another Cardiff resident said: "As someone who drives, walks and cycles in the city, I am all for making it easier to get around the city and would love it to be in a city free of pollution, but since Castle Street was closed it has just moved the problem from the city centre to other suburbs.
"I live in Grangetown, and for people like me to travel to the north of the city, without using Castle Street means either going along Cathedral Road, or along Crwys Road. Routinely, travelling along Cathedral Road to get to Gabalfa means joining a queue on Cathedral Road, and stop-start traffic."
The resident added that their most recent journey from their home in Grangetown to Whitchurch took 50 minutes, partly because it involves a journey past Howells school where there are regular bottlenecks at school times.
"I've seen people saying that reopening Castle Street is bad news or selfish but surely it can't be any better for air quality for vehicles to sit with their engines going for that period of time especially next to a city park used by thousands of people? Have air quality checks been made on the roads which are now carrying extra traffic?" they added.
"I agree with the decision to reopen Castle Street because the initial decision was short-sighted as it didn't factor in how it would impact other city roads once traffic resumes post-pandemic. Yes, let's make the city greener and get traffic - whether two or four wheels - moving, but don't just shift the problems."
A reader’s poll conducted by WalesOnline in April showed 55 per cent of respondents thought Castle Street should reopen, with 38 per cent against and seven per cent unsure.
Other residents have commented on how the current provision of public transport in the city factored into the decision to reopen Castle Street.
"Something I noticed about comments which are pro-castle street reopening was their problems with public transport and cycle infrastructure in Cardiff. Both of which are better as things are now. And both of which are things that those against the reopening campaign for," one resident tweeted.
"Like it’s not one of the other. We can keep castle street closed and we can campaign to make other carless journeys better in the short and long term. The obstacle for a better Cardiff to travel around isn’t active travel options, it’s the council," they continued.
Councillor Owen Llewelyn Jones tweeted that he was "saddened" by the decision to reopen the street to cars.
"It will hamper our public transport and lose us a new found public space," he wrote.
"I say this as a car user, but no initiative has got me onto a bus or a bike more than Castle St prioritising public and active travel. This is a backwards step for Cardiff."
Cardiff Council's cabinet will meet on Thursday and is set to approve opening it to all vehicles from the autumn. The street will see fewer lanes than previously, with a dedicated bus lane and the new cycleway kept. Two lanes will be open for private cars. The council claimed this set up would still reduce air pollution levels compared to before the closure last year.