Fire safety measures could restrict the benefits of St Albans city centre road closures, possibly preventing al fresco dining because of emergency access restrictions, it has been revealed.

George Street businesses may be unable to pitch outdoor tables and chairs due to the need to provide a clear route down the road for emergency vehicles.

The Herts Ad has seen the response to a Freedom of Information request to Herts county council (HCC) which reveals: "Throughout the course of the consultation in relation to the proposed closure of George Street we have made it clear that the 3.7m access in George Street needs to be in the centre of the carriageway to overcome road camber which may cause our vehicles to strike protrusions or overhangs on the buildings."

When coupled with a new cycle path down the historic road it means the much-heralded outdoor dining option could be impossible for the likes of MUST wine bar and Dylans.

St Albans School has also revealed its objections to the planned closures, which are set to be implemented later this month by a joint project board including HCC, St Albans district council (SADC) and the Business Improvement District (BID)

Burser Richard Hepper explained: "Our main and greatest concern is about fire and ambulance access. The previous period demonstrated the additional delays that were caused by this - three personal experiences – two at the school and another in Market Place.

"These were all potentially life-threatening situations and the emergency services were delayed and diverted by the gates. I reported these at the time. The whole of this side of St Albans is vulnerable, including the Cathedral, if emergency vehicles can’t get through swiftly.

"We have concerns about the movements of traffic and congestion as this diversion adds time and emissions to our coach operations.

"We wonder whether the closures are already intended to be permanent. There was a defined period of six months from the start for people 'to object to the orders becoming permanent', yet it’s supposed to be an experiment, and is scheduled for 18 months.

"We are also concerned that the design of the gates has not been published. The nature and positioning of such gates might have the impact, even if open, of us having to redirect coaches, even if they are open. We offered to help with the design but our offer was not taken up."