LSE Response to Development East of Milburn Tower West Edinburgh 15/04318/PPP

15/04318/PPP – Proposed Development East of Milburn Tower West Edinburgh
Report to Council on 2nd June 2016

Living Streets Scotland, stands up for and supports the interests of pedestrians. We have been encouraged by the efforts of the city of Edinburgh council to promote everyday walking.  However, we are concerned that major planning decisions are being made in ways that either or fail to deliver much needed improvements in the walking environment or make matters worse for pedestrians. Failure to put in place good infrastructure at the planning stage will make delivery of the Council’s key strategies more difficult and result in future costs to the council, which should have been met by developers.

Conditions for pedestrians in the West of Edinburgh are particularly hostile. As experts on the pedestrian environment we find it extraordinary that the developers of the above site are not being asked to provide safe and convenient crossings to key destinations, including the rail and tram interchange and Gyle Centre. Without the comprehensive upgrade of the existing facilities, which we believe are sub-standard, the following is inevitable:

A)   Inconvenience and an unsafe environment for residents in the development

B)   An inevitable reluctance to walk, resulting in new and additional car journeys in an area that is already congested

C)   In the longer-term pressure for costly and technically more difficult upgrades at the council tax payers expense

D)   Difficulty changing established travel patterns because facilities weren’t provide from the outset (the critical period for establishing travel behaviour)

E)   Developers routinely failing to properly plan for and cost in pedestrian infrastructure – because they can get away with it

In our experience, developers won’t provide adequate pedestrian infrastructure of the scale required unless obliged to do so. They should be costing such provision at the planning development and land purchase stage. Waiving obligations related to pedestrian provision sets a dangerous precedent with long-term consequences for communities and future transport budgets. Therefore, Its vital that a condition related to pedestrian and cycling facilities, is a condition of this planning consent. This would mean working with developer to fund and put in place:

  • A series of light controlled toucan crossings at road level, with direct footpath / cycle path links;
  • A new underpass spanning the bypass and Gyle access road; or
  • An over bridge with ramped and stair access at either side

SPOKES have done some work on these options which is worth reviewing

I am writing because, we believe this a major test of council resolve on walking and for that matter cycling. Nationally the stance of leading local authorities such the City of Edinburgh Council are important in the message they send.  We hope you will take the above into account, recognising the poor level of existing provision for pedestrians and cyclists and not add to the city’s chronic congestion problems in west Edinburgh.

Thank you for considering this information, we hope it will inform your decision on 2nd June.

Stuart Hay

Stuart Hay
Director Living Streets Scotland