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A preliminary plan approved by the Dunedin City Council includes turning George St from Moray Pl - past the Octagon - to Frederick St, into a southbound one-way street.
Views of owners and retail managers approached by the Otago Daily Times yesterday ranged from turning the area into a pedestrian-only space, to keeping the status quo.
Jeweller Brent Weatherall wanted to retain the existing layout and said he was "hot under the collar'' about the plan.
The council's plan for the area also includes installing a counter-flow cycle/scooter lane, and a paved carriageway between Hanover and St Andrew Sts, where cyclists and pedestrians would have priority over motorists.
It is part of a planned $60million upgrade of the central city.
In his eyes, the plan was reducing cars on the street by 50%. He feared the proposal would turn the CBD into a ghost town and lead to the opening of "satellite malls'' elsewhere in Dunedin.
"I initially thought [the proposal] was a joke, it just blew me away,'' he said.
"I am really angry.''
Having George St as a one-way street would compound the problem of traffic congestion around the CBD, he said.
There will be opportunities for the public to give more feedback on the plan, and work is not due to start until 2021.
Other businesses approached thought the council had not gone far enough.
Rembrandt Menswear manager Shane Stevic said traffic in the area could be cut entirely, as it was in cities overseas, such as Barcelona.
Turning the street into a one-way system was not going to ease traffic congestion, and there were better ways to draw people into the city centre, Mr Stevic said.
George St could be turned into a vibrant pedestrian-only space with street entertainers. Another option was simply shutting it off at weekends, he said.
Modaks Espresso owner Jack Bradbury thought, on the whole, the plan would be good for the city, although it might affect Modaks' early morning coffee trade.
"People aren't going to stop going down this end of town,'' he said.
The major issue would be the disruption when the changes to the road were made, he said.
Parking in the area was also a concern raised by several businesses. About 25 parking spaces for mobility card holders, delivery vehicles and drop-offs are included in the plan.
Any further car parking in the area will be considered as part of a proposed parking study which would be run alongside other studies, such as economic assessment and environmental survey.
While some business owners spoken to said their customers did not tend to park on the street anyway, Mr Weatherall said Brent Weatherall Jeweller customers wanting services such as their keys cut or wanting to drop off watches used the parks.
Without being able to access the jeweller easily, they might choose to go to a "kiosk in South Dunedin''.