All posts by Living Streets Edinburgh


It has been revealed that the City of Edinburgh Council is planning to boost city-centre car-parking spaces by 12%, despite the local authority’s supposed aspiration to cut traffic levels across Edinburgh. The local walking campaign, Living Streets Edinburgh Group [1], has discovered through a Freedom of Information request by one of its members [2] that the Council plans to introduce 1,206 more parking spaces on city centre streets. The campaigners say that this will undermine confidence in the ability to deliver a safer, cleaner city, its Convenor, Don McKee, commenting:

 ‘We’ve been strongly supportive of the Council’s visionary plans for a more walking-friendly city centre. But this revelation – adding the equivalent of 5.5 kilometres of car parking space on our streets – is either breathtakingly hypocritical or it suggests that the Council’s left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is trying to do.’

‘Extra parking takes valuable public space away from walking, cycling and buses – and it means more traffic on the roads, directly conflicting with the Council’s stated vision. Yet walking is designated as the top priority in the Scottish Government’s planning policies [3]. It’s time for the Council to properly recognise this in its programmes and projects for the city. ‘Business as usual’ – with the car as king – is simply not an option when we’re trying to tackle the climate emergency.’

Analysis of the FoI reply indicates that parking spaces in some streets will be boosted far beyond the 12% average – examples being Grove Street (30%), Mayfield Terrace (34%) and Blenheim Place (38%). Full street-by-street details can be found here:



[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of Living Streets, the national charity for ‘everyday walking’, see:

[2] The Freedom of Information request asked, in relation to Traffic Regulation Order TRO19/29 for detail of (i) number of parking spaces added and removed per street, and (ii) distance in meters of parking space added and removed per street. See:

[3] Paragraph 273 of ‘Scottish Planning Policy’ states that: ‘Plans should identify active travel networks and promote opportunities for travel by more sustainable modes in the following order of priority: walking, cycling, public transport, cars. The aim is to promote development which maximises the extent to which its travel demands are met first through walking, then cycling, then public transport and finally through use of private cars.’ See:


Living Streets Edinburgh’s AGM and Public Meeting 18 February 2020

Living Streets Edinburgh Group wants everyone to be able to enjoy walking around our city in comfort without having to worry about streets dominated by motorised traffic and air pollution. Cities all over the UK and the world are working to this end. Come along, and hear more at our AGM and public meeting 18 Feb 18.45pm, Quaker Meeting House. You’ll be most welcome!!

After a short AGM , Will Garrett, CEC Spatial Policy Manager, will address The City of Edinburgh Mobility Plan, open soon for consultation. Cllr Maureen Child will speak about Active Travel and her role as CEC Active Travel Champion. Doors open, tea and coffee from 18.30pm.

We look forward to seeing you there.




Following the success [1] of the City of Edinburgh Council’s ban on pavement advertising boards (A-boards), the local walking campaign has called for further action to clear the city’s pavements of clutter. Living Streets Edinburgh Group [2], which campaigned for years for the Council to tackle the A-board problem, says further measures are needed to build on the A-board action to create safe, obstruction-free pavements across the city. David Hunter of Living Streets Edinburgh commented:

“ ‘A-board’ clutter had become a significant problem on many Edinburgh streets, especially because so many pavements aren’t wide enough. The ban has made it easier, safer and more enjoyable to walk in many local streets across the city. But there are still far too many obstructions on pavements: waste bins need to be sensibly sited, roadworks signs managed properly and unnecessary signage poles removed. All pavements should have an absolute minimum ‘clear zone’ of 1.5 metres for pedestrians as laid down in the Council’s own Street Design Guidance [3]. And in residential areas, hedges are too often allowed to grow over pavements, obstructing safe passage by pedestrians.”



 1.      A report on the success of the A-board ban is to be discussed at the City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on Thursday 5th December.

2.      Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary branch of Living Streets, the national charity promoting ‘everyday walking’:

3.      Edinburgh Street Design Guidance is at


LSE Comments on ‘Summertime Streets’ 2019

 Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) strongly supports the concept of ‘summertime streets’; ie closing streets to motor traffic during the festival to create more space for people to walk in safety to enjoy Edinburgh, its sights, shows, shops, bars etc and to make a better environment for local residents. LSEG first called for such measures in 2015: We have the following observations to make on specific locations.


Cockburn Street, Victoria Street

 These streets were well stewarded and in our view worked best. However, we are not clear why there were so many cars parked in Cockburn Street in particular. The ugly metal barriers used block off the streets to vehicles should be replaced by ones which are more ‘people-friendly’ and show clearly that walking is permitted (and indeed encouraged!)


Candlemaker Row

Our feedback was generally positive on this street. However, many tour coaches ignored the ban with apparent impunity and this requires better management.



Summertime Streets was not a success in the Cowgate. As was amply demonstrated on social media, the ban on motor traffic was completely ignored by many drivers, including licensed private hire cars and taxis. There was usually little if any staff present to manage the restrictions. Pavement parking was rife (as in previous years) and the police appeared to show no appetite to deal with the frequent ‘moving vehicle offences’. The restrictions in our view should start from 12.00 midday or 14.00, with all servicing of bars, restaurants etc taking place before then. Appropriate access to courts, the mortuary etc could be provided through special arrangements, use of Guthrie Street etc.



This was also unsatisfactory. Taxis and many tourist coaches use the roundabout at the foot of Castle Hill to turn, completely undermining the ‘car-free’ environment of the Lawnmarket. Stewards, who had the difficult job of managing this conflict, were frequently observed shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way of vehicles. Vehicles should therefore be banned entirely from Johnston Terrace during the traffic restriction period.


High Street/South Bridge

 We were pleased to see barriers providing wider walking space on the west side of South Bridge near the Tron – a high-risk space for pedestrians. We note the problems reported by residents about diversion of bus routes on the Canongate and would not object to buses (but not general traffic, including taxis) continuing to use the street during the festival. At the other end of the High Street, the police appeared to be prioritising vehicles exiting from St Giles Street over pedestrians – this section of the High Street (to Bank St/George IV St) needs to be improved. There should be no vehicle access to Parliament Square during the festival, allowing this grossly under-valued space to be better used by people on foot.



We welcome the Council’s introduction of traffic restrictions in 2019. However, we want to see the idea improved and extended in 2020 particularly by:

  • extending the hours of traffic closures;
  • extending the traffic closures to more streets; and
  • improving enforcement/staffing of traffic restrictions.

Tackling Street Clutter through Locality Working


The Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) carried out a project to tackle pavement clutter in the summer of 2019. We are grateful to Paths for All for supporting the project through its ‘Smarter Choices Smarter Places’ Open Fund.

The first objective of the project was to identify at least 100 obstructions on city pavements which inhibit walking – aiming to have at least some of these removed. Secondly, and just as important, we wanted to develop our understanding of the problems that street clutter cause and share perspectives on managing clutter between ourselves (LSEG members), community representatives and council staff working at ‘the coal face’ of managing local roads. This meant working closely with the four Locality Roads Managers across the city and their staff.

What we did

Four members of LSEG participated in the project, each working in one of the four ‘Localities’ (North West, North East, South East and South West). We emailed all community councils in the city that we could find and also the Edinburgh Access Panel, inviting suggestions for areas to look at where ‘pavement clutter’ was seen as a problem.

Based on this feedback and personal knowledge, we then walked selected city streets, recording and photographing objects which we felt inhibited walking and should be removed. We appreciate the participation of members of the Access Panel, community councillors and City of Edinburgh Councillors who joined us on several of these walks.

The project aimed to take in different parts of the city, focussing as much on residential areas as on ‘town centres’ or central Edinburgh. The main areas assessed are set out below. We appreciate that this inevitably misses out many parts of the city where no doubt pavement clutter is just as much of a problem as in these areas.

Blackhall/Craigleith Colinton Bruntsfield Easter Road
Broomhouse Dalry Tollcross Leith Walk
Corstorphine Gorgie Hanover St London Road
Drumbrae Oxgangs Morrison St Portobello
Ferry Road Slateford South Bridge Willowbrae
Pilton Walter Scott Avenue

What did we find?

In all, we identified 290 items of ‘clutter’ which we felt should be tackled – far more than the original target of 100! We took a broad view of what might be considered ‘clutter’, which to some extent is subjective. However, we aimed to focus on things which are fixed, or at least in place for a considerable time. So this included things like signage poles, guard rails, large refuse bins, bushes, utility boxes, phone kiosks and roadworks signs. We generally excluded things like the occasional stray ‘A-board’ (contravening the council-wide ban), regular wheelie bins and pavement parking, despite encountering this on many streets.

At the time or writing, we are awaiting responses from the council on most of the items which we identified. However, few items have been tackled as ‘quick wins’ (especially removal of overhanging vegetation). In some other cases, council staff judge that items which we identified as ‘clutter’ should be retained. Often, locality staff have to consult further with colleagues over whether items which we have identified can be removed.

Lessons learned

LSEG developed a better understanding of how ‘clutter’ comes about and how difficult it can be for local roads staff to manage.  There can be historic reasons to explain the presence of some clutter; for example a guardrail on St Johns Road used to provide protection at a busy bakery, but has long been closed. Local roads staff face requests for items to be placed on the street from many different sources (both within the council and from external bodies).   Resource constraints (both in terms of staffing and capital) seem to limit the extent to which clutter (and the scope for removing it) is assessed. Another clear message is that inspection regimes are almost entirely focussed on hazards and ‘defects’ – for example a broken traffic sign will be reported, but not an unnecessary one.

The influence of the Council’s Street Design Guidance – which has minimising clutter as one of its key principles – seems limited in practice. A particular example of this is that, despite the Guidance stating that vertical No Loading signs should normally be removed, other council managers have advised locality staff that these signs should be kept.

In some cases, action to remove clutter may require a programmed, rather than-an-item by item, approach.  Examples include obsolete (non-operational) ‘real-time’ parking availability signs and poorly maintained or semi-derelict phone boxes. There seems to be a real opportunity to manage streets more ‘holistically’ which should produce better streets; and perhaps also reduce costs.

Next steps

We believe that there are valuable insights from this project which will be useful to share with a wider audience – to community groups in Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council staff, other councils, and professional bodies and institutes. We therefore hope to secure additional funding to enable us to publish a professionally produced report and a short video to communicate the findings of our project more widely.

We will also keep in touch with the localities staff (currently being re-organised) and continue to monitor what happens to the 290 items we recorded. To keep in touch, please see our website and Twitter account for further updates.


David Hunter

Living Streets Edinburgh Group

October 2019