BUSINESS representatives have rejected car-free proposals in the hearts of Scotland’s two largest cities.

It comes after Glasgow and Edinburgh separately launched plans that include full pedestrianisation in parts of both city centres.

Glasgow City Council proposals for a car-free George Square, with two sides being closed to all traffic, are being considered.

In the Scottish capital, George Street is set to be transformed initially with wider pavements and better pedestrian and cycling provision while Edinburgh City Council also said its “iconic streets will be progressively pedestrianised”.

Businesses in both cities have supported improved access and better public transport but baulked at calls for an outright car ban.

Concerns were also raised over any partial restriction without first having a viable alternative public transport system already in place and running.

READ MORE: Plans for car-free George Square to be considered

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have a city that was, after all, designed over a period of 50 years to be highly decentralised and pretty much dependent on the car.

“Unfortunately, you cannot just switch that off overnight.”

The Glasgow plan, which could cost between £8 million and £10m for the George Square redesign, would see the east side of the square outside the City Chambers and the opposite end at Merchants House fully pedestrianised.

The two remaining sides would be for bus, taxi, private hire, and cycles only between 7am and 7pm.

Mr Patrick said: “We don’t know what customers will do. Do they simply decide not to come? Do they go elsewhere? Do they switch more to online which is already having an impact on the city centre as we know?”

“So the question is not so much ban cars from the city centre but more how do you make it attractive for people to use the city centre and make it easy for them to get in, in whichever transport.”

READ MORE: Radical plans for Edinburgh set out tram extension and largely car-free city centre

The chamber backs a wide-reaching metro system across outlying areas.

“We have been vigorously supportive of the metro system, and it is not just the metro to the airport, which is a big issue for us, we are clear on that, but actually because we like the idea that we are developing an overall system across the region that adds to the public transport offer.

“Whilst we’ve invested over the years in upgrades and improvements to the existing system we really haven’t added to it over the decades.

“So if we really want a modal shift then we really need to invest in an alternative public transport offer.”

Sustainable options including electric vehicles and provision for an electric fleet should be championed.

Mr Patrick said: “We’re not in favour of a rigid car ban. We are keen on ScottishPower’s proposal for rolling out electric charging points, for example."

READ MORE: Edinburgh firms to meet ahead of George Street revamp decision

In Edinburgh, George Street, one of the city’s key shopping thoroughfares, is set for a £20m revamp as well as the city considering a wider plan that includes extending the tram system.

Essential Edinburgh, which manages the business improvement district covering the major retail streets from the west to east end of Princes Street, Rose Street, and George Street as well the St James quarter, said the immediate Edinburgh plans stop short of full pedestrianisation and there is “little support” among firms for a car-free option.

However, the council plans pedestrianisation in “iconic streets” as part of its move towards carbon neutral by 2030, a target also held by Glasgow.

Essential Edinburgh said: “Over the last couple of years there has been much discussion and debate on a [George Street] re-design. This has led to a position where we are at an agreed design with just a few details left to decide.

“This published design includes increased width of pavements, a dedicated cycle lane and two lanes of traffic. It does not facilitate a fully-pedestrian street and we do not see this as a priority moving forward.

“The design of the street has been purposely completed to allow more active travel to and along George Street, but also catering for the need for servicing the businesses and for those who do want the ability to be dropped off by car on the street.

“There is little support from the business community for a fully pedestrianised George Street.”