Transport bosses have paved the way for the pedestrianisation of Queen Street in Oxford by launching a radical scheme to transform the city centre.

County Hall bosses today launched the Transform Oxford initiative, with the pedestrianisation of Queen Street as its crowning glory.

Bus stops would be removed next summer ahead of the total removal of buses at a date yet to be fixed.

Traffic bans in George Street and Magdalen Street would start in the summer of 2010, with pedestrianisation of Broad Street the same year.

Corinne Grimley Evans, a spokesman for Oxford Pedestrians' Association, said: "We are surprised and amazed by these proposals and we welcome them."

As part of the proposal to redesign Magdalen Street a bus-turning circle will be installed at the city end of St Giles.

In 2011, highways engineers plan to remodel the Frideswide Square junction outside Oxford station, removing traffic lights and introducing roundabouts to improve traffic flow.

County council leader Keith Mitchell said: "Oxford is one of the most famous cities in the world and we must act to make sure it thrives and retains its competitive edge and splendid historic charm.

"There is work we can do relatively quickly that will improve the experience for the shopper and increase pedestrian safety and well-being. Queen Street, George Street, Magdalen Street and Broad Street are firmly in our sights for work in 2009/2010.

"After that, we will move on to the world-famous High Street and St Aldate's and there will be more work on Queen Street. The detail on this work is currently in its earliest stages.

"However, people should be in no doubt that we are very serious about improving these routes."

Mr Mitchell said he had been inspired by pedestrianisation schemes in other cities, like Birmingham and Cambridge.

Talks would continue with bus companies who were "supportive of the vision, but worried about the detail," Mr Mitchell said.

City council leader Bob Price said city councillors backed the plan but residents needed to be consulted on unresolved issues.

Philip Kirk, managing director of Oxford Bus Company, said: "We've had initial discussions with the county council and, overall, we are enthusiastic about helping to bring improvements to the central area."

Green county councillor Larry Sanders said: "So far, these proposals have not been discussed with other political groups and that's a bad start. There is no detail yet on cost and who will pay."

Oxford's medieval road network makes it difficult to introduce radical new transport schemes and cater for the needs of cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

County Hall launched a pioneering park-and-ride scheme in the 1970s and there are now five sites serving drivers travelling into the city centre.

The authority has now taken over the running of all five park-and-rides and parking costs have been scrapped.

As part of Oxford Transport Strategy initiatives in 1999 to improve traffic flow, buses were removed from Cornmarket Street and ordinary traffic was banned during the day from the High Street. A 20mph zone has also been introduced in the centre.