Buses could be banned from Birmingham's best known shopping streets and the heart of the business quarter as part of a council attempt to make the city centre pedestrian-friendly.

Under proposals contained in a 20-year plan launched by city council leader Mike Whitby, bus journeys into the centre of Birmingham would terminate at the Queensway inner ring road - removing services from Corporation Street, Stephenson Street and Colmore Row.

The Big City Plan, which sets out radical options for improving and regenerating the city centre, talks about "intense conflict between pedestrians and vehicles in many areas".

It also opens the possibility of changing the route for the Metro tram extension from Snow Hill to Five Ways.

Free of buses, the central shopping and business area would be transformed with busy public squares, lively streets, markets, parks and pavement cafes, according to the document.

In the plan, the council says: "We need to radically consider the bus network. We have an easily walkable city core and the challenge may be to bring buses to the edge of the core and not through it, freeing up more space for pedestrians."

A series of transport interchanges, linking bus, rail and taxi services, is proposed along the Queensway.

The document adds: "We need to radically improve passengers waiting experience by making great interchanges between walking, cycling, getting out of a taxi and onto a train or bus.

"We need to link our public transport strategy to our investment in new walking routes and our signing strategy to make it easier for people to understand how to get around."

On the subject of the £180 million Metro extension, the plan states: "We believe that at the outset, we must reconsider some alternative street running options for the Metro that lessen the impact on the city centre.

"Given the redesign of New Street Station and the proposed extension of the city centre core to the south and west, it may be more feasible to run the tram through these areas, opening up new development opportunities at, say, the wholesale markets."

Council leaders are considering building only the first section of the new tram line, from Snow Hill to New Street Station. The New Street to Five Ways section could be built at a later date, or even abandoned in favour of a route from New Street to Digbeth and, eventually, to Birmingham Airport and the NEC.

It is being made clear by the council that none of the proposals in the plan are set in stone. The document is designed to stimulate discussion and "not close down fresh thinking".

Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: "This is our statement of intent, setting out the scope of the Big City Plan which will evolve over the next 18 months. We thought that it would be better to talk around ideas rather than consultation with a blank slate.

"We want this plan to be visionary but we want to make sure it happens. These are our consultants' ideas, but they have listened to a wide range of views before they put pen to paper.

"This is just the start. We want more people to join in defining our future."

The proposal to remove buses from much of the city centre is bound to be highly controversial.

Travel West Midlands, the region's largest bus company, spent months opposing council plans to remove buses from Corporation Street and Broad Street in order to accommodate the Midland Metro extension.

The Big City Plan is the result of 18 months work, which began with a scoping study by cities expert Professor Michael Parkinson.

The document sets out ideas for extending the city centre core to take in northern Digbeth, the wholesale markets and Attwood Green.

Proposals include:
* Creation of a food quarter with the focus on independent restaurants, retailers and street markets;
* Maximise the potential of Birmingham as a Science City by "fully exploiting our melting pot of learning and business";
*  Campaign for Eurostar rail services to Birmingham International Station, with a dedicated link to New Street;
* Develop a new urban neighbourhood within the city centre, with a range of accommodation to include larger town houses for bigger families, mews houses and duplex homes, affordable homes for young and old;
* Make Birmingham the focus for creative industries in the UK. Make the Eastside media quarter the equivalent of Dublin's digital hub and Manchester's knowledge quarter.