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Madrileños split over plans to close off key city avenue

  • The mayor wants to encourage a greener city, leaving the main thoroughfare open just for public transport, taxis and local residents

Following a Christmas trial, Madrid's mayor, Manuela Carmena, is to press ahead with controversial plans to permanently close the city's Gran Vía to normal traffic.

The Gran Vía in Madrid is a landmark artery in the centre of the capital, equivalent to Oxford Street in London or Paris's Champs Élysées for the amount of shops and traffic.

The mayor wants to encourage a greener city, leaving the main thoroughfare open just for public transport, taxis and local residents.

Local shop owners and business leaders have criticised the move as its impact on commercial activity "has not been properly studied", and rival political groups on the city council have as yet failed to back the idea.

The mayor, who is known for out-spoken policies, has suggested a local referendum could be held on the final proposal.