PLANS to transform a Chester neighbourhood into Cheshire's first Home Zone get under way on Monday.
Over the next 18 weeks, nearly £500,000 will be spent redesigning streets around a residential quarter near the city's railway station.
Led by Cheshire County Council in partnership with Chester City Council, Chester and District Housing Trust and residents, the scheme is centred on Egerton Street, Crewe Street, Francis Street, Leadworks Lane and Milton Street.
Mainly funded by the Government's Challenge Fund, Home Zones were first created in Europe to 'give the streets back to pedestrians'. Their street layouts are designed to reduce the speed of traffic.
The Chester Home Zone scheme, bounded by Brook Street, the Inner Ring Road, City Road and Station Road, will also include a 20mph speed limit and a number of one-way roads.
Over the coming weeks, part of Seller Street and Milton Street will be made one-way to reduce through-traffic in the area.
Part of Crewe Street will also be shut to traffic at its junction with Francis Street, although pedestrians and cyclists will be able to pass through.
New, more attractive road surfaces will be laid and parking bays formed.
A lighting system is being installed and care has been taken to maintain access for emergency services. Trees will also be planted.
A small local park on Crewe Street will be transformed to include a play area for toddlers featuring an aquatic theme. Artwork will also be on display, including ceramic figures moulded by pupils from Boughton St Paul's School.
'Speeding traffic rat-running through the area will be a thing of the past once the Home Zone is operational by Easter,' said Chester city councillor Peter Byrne.
'Entire new road layouts will slow traffic, encouraging residents and visitors to have time to chat, walk or cycle.
'And parking controls will be introduced so residents will not have to compete for parking spaces outside their homes with commuters and shoppers.
'Local residents have been heavily involved in this project and I would like to thank them for their support - and I know that they also will enjoy these drawing board plans becoming a reality.
'This is another example of the way Government money is helping to transform whole areas of our city.'
Boughton ward city councillor Bob Rudd said: 'I welcome this scheme getting off the ground after 18 months of detailed preparation, which included a great deal of consultation with local residents.'