The county council has vowed to force through wide-ranging plans to pedestrianise the centre of Oxford if opponents try to derail the idea.

On Monday, the council announced multi-million-pound proposals to transform the city centre — including the pedestrianisation of Queen Street.

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

County council leader Keith Mitchell said the authority, which will consult the public and traders before going ahead with the scheme, was determined to implement it and was prepared to use legal powers if agreements could not be reached.

He added: "I have been speaking with the managing directors of the city's two main bus operators.

"Their view is they're very supportive of the vision — and worried about the detail. Both bus companies are committed to working with us and sorting this out.

"I'm confident at this stage we can work sensibly with them but, if not, there are reserve powers."

Mr Mitchell said the council was determined to go ahead, regardless of whether or not the £300m revamp of the Westgate Shopping Centre development proceeds.

The credit crunch has put the project on hold, with the developers expected to announce a revised timetable for the project by the end of the year.

Council senior transport planner Martin Kraftl said: "We want to work with Oxford’s bus operators on this project, not against them.

"Having already discussed these issues with the bus companies, the council is very confident that agreement will be reached on a way forward.

"There are powers that can be used, such as applying to the Traffic Commissioner to introduce a traffic regulation condition. One of these is already being used to prevent coaches from accessing Queen Street during the day.

"Traffic regulation orders could also be used. However, any of these legal powers would only be used to regulate bus operations as an absolute last resort — and given the co-operation the bus companies are showing, it's unlikely they will be utilised."

Oxford Bus Company managing director Philip Kirk said detailed negotiations would be needed "to get the balance of measures right, to ensure the continued economic well-being of the city, as well as preserving its historic core".

Stagecoach Oxfordshire managing director Martin Sutton said: "In broad terms, we are receptive to any proposals to enhance the attractiveness of the city centre.

"Oxford has the highest level of bus use of any similar-sized city in the UK and it's essential bus users aren't disadvantaged by bus stops being moved to remote and inconvenient locations.

"Good access to the heart of the city must be maintained."