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Edinburgh unveils plans to end dominance of car on George Street

Patrick McDonnell
16 November 2018


People-friendly spaces a dedicated cycleway and plazas are among proposals for Edinburgh’s George Street and New Town public realm design project.

A draft concept design for the area, which has been produced after extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders including community and specialist interest groups, went on show at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre for the first time on 8 November.

As part of the wider City Centre Transformation project, the George Street and New Town (GNT) project aims to design streets that enhance its use for pedestrians while prioritising active travel and accessibility.

Key elements of the draft concept design, which has been developed in line with the design principles for George Street, include: 

Creating spaces where people can sit, rest, relax and linger comfortably in the street, with significantly more outdoor seating available.

Plazas that reinforce views of key buildings, provide attractive spaces within the street and support events of an appropriate scale without impacting pedestrian and cycle routes.

Increasing the width of pedestrian areas to enhance the pedestrian experience, accessibility and movement flow.

Creating dedicated and segregated space for cycling in two directions on George Street.

Eliminating existing street clutter, which detracts from the heritage and buildings and also impedes pedestrian movement, presenting a particular obstacle for people with visual and mobility impairments and those with prams.

Improving the pedestrian experience at road junctions by extending the footway space available and narrowing vehicle carriageways.

Reducing the current impact of vehicles by removing the central median parking, which detracts from the character and heritage of the street. 

Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener at The City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The GNT project is widely recognised as a crucial catalyst to re-invigorating George Street and adjoining New Town streets for the present day but is also fundamental to ensuring the area can easily adapt in the future as the city of Edinburgh continues to evolve.”

The plans have been drawn up with the support of active travel charity Sustrans.

“The concept design aims to create a world-class space that respects and enhances the World Heritage Site,” said Macinnes. “It seeks to make the First New Town a safer and more vibrant area by opening up central places to more people and enhancing the current setting and position of the street’s statues to make greater feature points of them. 

“It has been shaped through ongoing stakeholder consultation and listening to a wide range of views and aspirations.

“The drop-in sessions will now help gauge the appetite for a range of a proposals, amongst which are the potential introduction of greening, trees and new seating areas to the street, in addition to the creation of a segregated cycle lane and much enhanced pedestrian space.”

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