St James's Street traders are calling on the council to pedestrianise the busy Brighton street in the heart of the city's gay district. 

Business owners have given their backing to a trial of barring traffic from St James’s Street in Brighton to try to give it a resurgence.

They say without a change the colourful road at the centre of the city’s unofficial gay village would “wither and die”.

Brighton Kemptown MP Simon Kirby has called on Brighton and Hove City Council to trial the changes between Easter and the last bank holiday in May to see if the scheme could work.

Mr Kirby said a recent survey of hundreds of residents and businesses showed a 70% approval rate for the suggestion.

Sharon Barr, owner of The Zone Bar in the street, said the proposals were the best news she had heard in seven years.

She said businesses would embrace the increased space outside their shops with flower pots, hanging baskets and tables to revive a “cafe society”.

She added: “At the moment the street is such a mess with scaffolding all over the place, people having to walk into the road while buses and lorries fly past.

“It is a miracle no one has been killed.

“With the changes to Edward Street and the renovation of the old market there is a danger that St James’s Street might become the forgotten space.”

But bus bosses said the move would “impact massively” on their service and any changes would take a lot of careful planning, which they believe could not be carried out before Easter.

Martin Harris, managing director of the Brighton and Hove Bus Company, said: “We are always willing to look at ideas but if anything can be done it is not going to be a quick fix, it will take a lot of careful planning.

“We have to put the interests of our customers first and thousands of our customers catch a bus from St James’s Street each year.”

Mr Kirby said: “Whilst issues such as access for residents and the routing of bus services would need to be considered, I believe pedestrianisation could offer many benefits to residents, businesses and visitors alike.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “Lots of people depend on that street as a bus route so there are likely to be issues about where the buses would go.

“It would be important to hear from everyone, including the bus company and its passengers.

“So pedestrianisation there is not part of the local transport plans at present but we’re always open to views on the matter.”