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Transport is Going to be Transformed in Edinburgh

3 min

Image Credit: Roan Lavery, Unsplash
Edinburgh’s George Street and First New Town flagship project is aiming to transform the city centre. Quadrant Transport explores how the project is hoping to create more spaces that facilitate walking, cycling, and sustainable transport across the capital.

The City of Edinburgh Council has announced that the final developed design elements for the George Street and First New Town (GNT) project and an updated operational plan have been published.

They have been published as part of the latest phase of the design process – Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stage 3.

Supporting Better Walking And Cycling Spaces Is Key To Transport Transformation

Developed design proposals have been built with the aim to create more welcoming, people-friendly spaces, support accessibility, walking and cycling, and celebrate Edinburgh’s unique heritage.

Some of the main focuses of the Stage 3 Developed Design are significantly widened pavements, the creation of a European-style cycling street, the removal of parking bays (while retaining blue badges and essential resident parking), ‘greening’ plans for planting and shrubbery along the length of the street, and the use of natural stone suitable for the World Heritage Site.

Supporting the area’s transformation, the updated principles for the First New Town operation plan, include proposed entry times for non-essential vehicles, access windows for taxis – recognising their role in the night-time economy and protecting public safety, the maintenance of bus services in the broader First New Town, and methods for enforcing the changes.

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director, Sustrans: “Sustrans is proud to be a funding partner for the George Street and First New Town transformation. The design proposals are the result of extensive public engagement with a broad range of stakeholders. The project will facilitate walking, wheeling, cycling and sustainable transport in Scotland’s capital. But more importantly, it will create a greener, healthier place with people at its heart, where they can relax, socialise, shop, work and enjoy Edinburgh’s beautiful surroundings.”

Edinburgh Council Is Aiming To Create a Safe Space For Residents

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener said: “This is a major milestone for a flagship project to transform Edinburgh’s city centre, where people will be put first and the economy will be supported.

“We will transform George Street from a place which is dominated by cars to one which is dominated by people. The latest proposals build on years of public and business engagement, all of which have improved the design.

“As part of this stage of development, the project team has carried out a significant package of in-depth assessments to address GNT’s impact on residents, businesses, public safety and the economy, amongst other factors, and to ensure final designs take varied needs into account.

“Once complete, GNT will deliver a world-class city centre worthy of a European capital, highlighting Edinburgh’s stunning architecture and creating a safe space for people to spend time in.”

By supporting sustainable travel by foot and bike, as well as retaining public transport links, it’s also key to the Council’s plans to reduce travel by car and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Construction Of The Transformation Could Begin In 2024

If recommendations are approved by Transport and Environment Committee, the project will progress to Stage 4, which sets out key processes required for its delivery. This includes promoting all necessary statutory processes, such as Traffic Regulation and Redetermination Orders, which will allow construction to commence in 2024. This stage will also deliver the final Operational Plan.

Edinburgh Council has said that GNT is one of the first projects to be delivered as part of Edinburgh City Centre Transformation.

It intersects with other key schemes supporting travel by foot, wheel or bike in the city centre, including Meadows to George Street (MGS) and the City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL).