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Response to Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy Consultation

  1. Introduction

1.1      Living Streets Edinburgh Group welcomes the publication and consultation on the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy.   We would like to thank the Council for its leadership in bringing this forward and the bold nature of the vision, which has the potential to transform the walking environment.

1.2      We have taken the opportunity to respond to the consultation under the following headings:

  • General comments on the Strategy;
  • Need for City-wide Transformation;
  • Detailed Comments on the Strategy.

1.3      We are happy to meet with Council staff and Jacobs to explain and expand on our comments.   We would also like to be involved in the preparation of the final strategy and the detailed design process for individual elements within it.

 

  1. General Comments on the Strategy

2.1      Walking (with or without an aid) is something we all have in common; at some point we have to get out of the car, off the bus or off the bike and walk.  Despite this we have, as a city, long accepted and planned for the private car as the dominant transport mode. A strategy that reverses this, puts people first and gives priority to travelling on foot is long overdue.

2.2      Transformation brings with it expectation and responsibility.  Delivery will require serious intent and ongoing commitment by the Council.  The scale of physical and behavioural change involved is significant, but eminently capable of achievement in the city that conceived and delivered the New Town.

2.3      This is a project that will span a number of Council terms and must not be subject to the vagaries of different political administrations that may come and go over its lifetime.  It requires “buy in” from all parties for the long term.

2.4      The focus of the strategy is on the city centre, but it cannot take place in isolation and must require significant change throughout the city to make it work and ensure that benefits are widely shared (see next section).

2.5      The strategy has no statutory basis, yet it will have to be delivered through a variety of statutory plans/processes including City Plan 2030, the City Mobility Plan and Low Emission Zones.  It is therefore essential that there is a clear pledge by the Council to see it through, ensuring that it underpins the statutory plans and that all internal structures and processes are joined up and remain so.  We have already seen examples of opportunities to deliver wider benefits for every day walking being missed on simple small-scale projects because of lack of dialogue between sections of the same Directorate.  The scale and complexity of transformation in this strategy is such that this just cannot be allowed to happen.

2.6      It is regrettable that the Delivery Plan is still under preparation as it is an essential part of the package.  The strategy promises a range of potentially exciting changes over a relatively short timeframe, yet a costed programme of projects and interventions is not available.  Consequently there is a risk that expectations have been raised and may yet be dashed before the strategy is off the starting blocks.  The Delivery Plan may be more bedded in reality if it has a clear sense of priority, distinguishing between short-term essentials and what may be longer-term desirables e.g. lifts and the tram line extensions. The experience from Leith Walk suggests some streets can’t accommodate public realm for walking, segregated cycle infrastructure and tram tracks so the detail on what can actually be delivered is important.

2.7      The Delivery Plan will be at the heart of the transformation project and the scale is such that the Council, with budgets constantly under competing pressures, will have difficulty in finding and maintaining the necessary resources to fund delivery on its own.

2.8      Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is iconic in UK terms. It is therefore hoped that commitments have already been secured from Scottish Government to enhance the Council’s spending settlement for the duration of the project and to make additional ring-fenced funding available for specific elements, ideally with additional buy in from UK Government. There is a case for the business sector to contribute, as a beneficiary from transformation.  The Council can also secure funding via a workplace parking levy, congestion charging, more rigorous enforcement of parking and road restrictions, and more targeted developer contributions.

 

  1. Need for City-wide Transformation

3.1      In order to be meaningful transformation cannot take place in isolation in the city centre alone, it has to extend across the city and the timing is opportune to start this process.

3.2      SESPlan Strategic Development Plan 2 has recently been rejected by Scottish Ministers on transport grounds, one of them being that the plan does not take sufficient account of the relationship between land use and transport. The rejection letter from the Chief Planner dated 16 May 2019 makes specific reference to paragraphs 272-275 of Scottish Planning Policy. Para 273 prioritises modes of travel in the following order of priority: walking, then cycling, then public transport and finally use of private cars.   The reality is that, despite this unambiguous hierarchy, planning in the city has followed a reverse order of priority and the private car continues to dominate.  The Transformation Strategy can be a start in putting matters right, but it will not work in isolation.

3.3      The rejection of SDP2 reflects Scottish Government’s intention to deliver its policy and sends a clear message that City Plan 2030 and the City Mobility Plan should take the reasons for that rejection on board.  If the hierarchy in Scottish Planning Policy is applied across the city it means that transformation must extend to communities beyond the city centre, sharing the benefits and ensuring they do not suffer the consequences of any displacement of vehicular traffic from the city centre as a result of this strategy.

3.4      A significant reduction in car use is essential to make transformation work and ensure Edinburgh truly is a city with people at its heart.  In practical terms this means there has to be a change in mind-set in and around the city with acceptance that the private car no longer has priority.

3.5      There is plenty of good practice to draw on from within the UK and beyond.  For example, there is potential for mini-Holland style projects in neighbourhoods across the city, including Leith and Gorgie https://walthamforest.gov.uk/content/creating-mini-holland-waltham-forest or take a lead from the Barcelona Super Blocks http://www.bcnecologia.net/en/conceptual-model/superblocks

3.6      An extensive city-wide programme of physical, fiscal and legal interventions is needed including:

  • widen pavements;
  • introduce continuous footways as standard;
  • create a network of segregated cycle lanes;
  • reduce the width of carriageways and increase street planting;
  • significant removal of on street parking;
  • prioritise pedestrians at crossings;
  • congestion charging;
  • a workplace parking levy;
  • city wide low emission zone;
  • rigorous enforcement of parking controls, speed limits, bus lanes;
  • expand and enhance the bus fleet replacing diesel with hydrogen or other zero emission technology;
  • review the bus network within and around the city, where necessary introducing new routes/improve frequency;
  • review train timetables and enhance services where possible;
  • provide/enhance park and ride provision as required.

 

  1. Detailed Comments on the Strategy

4.1      It is appreciated that this is a strategy, but it also identifies a range of specific measures and interventions without going into great detail.   It is stated that the Delivery Plan will provide a costed programme for individual elements over a 10 year period.   Having expressed disappointment that the Delivery Plan is not available as part of the current consultation, we consider it critical that it is the subject of further consultation when it is eventually produced.  This will allow scrutiny of the detail of the various projects and interventions and an opportunity to assess whether any of the ambition in the strategy has been lost or diluted.

4.2      The six principles on p16/17 are supported. However, the aims and objectives in the Interim Report that they are intended to deliver should have been repeated in the strategy so that anyone reading it can make a clear link to them from individual interventions via the principles.

 

4.3      The principle of People First (p16) and priority given to walking, cycling and public transport is most welcome.  With this in mind, and before embarking on detailed design, it is important to decide how to manage, not only private cars, but a variety of other traffic which contribute to unpleasant conditions for walking:

  • taxis/private hire cars;
  • bin lorries;
  • vans;
  • HGVs;
  • tour buses (incl ‘City sightseeing’);
  • long distance coaches.

4.4      To have a liveable (p17) and resilient city centre there should be a target to increase the residential population. This will have to be facilitated through planning decisions and controls over Air BnB type uses.  It will also to be necessary to have the necessary community facilities in place e.g. schools, doctors.

4.5      On p22, specific reference to and acceptance of the hierarchy of movement with people on foot first is welcome.  More detail is required on how pedestrian priority zones will be delivered, particularly the concept of vehicles as “guests” (which vehicles?), and there must be recognition that the city centre is a first phase, with pedestrians eventually prioritised across the city as required by the hierarchy.

4.6      The Pedestrian Priority Zone should cover the entire length of the Royal Mile and include Holyrood Palace/Scottish Parliament.  Its exclusion is illogical as it is that last section with narrow footways and constant traffic that is particularly difficult and unpleasant for the large number of pedestrians who use it.

4.7      There are no proposals to improve walking provision on Queen Street; this should be addressed.  It is one of the most important streets in the New Town, on the edge of the city centre, yet poor air quality, high traffic volumes and excessive waiting times at crossings create a hostile pedestrian experience.

4.8      The new pedestrian and cycling bridge between Jeffrey Street and Calton Road (p24) is welcome and it is hoped that reference to “vehicle free” extends to the currently unsafe junction with Leith Street thereby creating a more pleasant and safer approach to the station from Calton Road.

4.9      On p24 there is reference to “segregated and safe cycling routes”.  It is taken that this means all the cycle routes indicated will be segregated, including Cowgate despite its restricted width.

4.10   Does “full implementation of current Active Travel Plan” on p27 only refer to the cycling parts?   For the avoidance of doubt, the Council should commit to all outstanding walking elements in the ATP.

4.11   Public transport is key to the reduction in private car use and delivery of improved journey times and efficiency for buses accessing the centre (p28/29) is welcomed.  However, it also states that there will be a “reduced volume of buses crossing the city centre without a loss of service provision” with no indication of how his will be achieved.  The service improvement commitment to bus services is focused on the city centre, whereas people need to find it easier to use buses throughout the city.  Bear in mind that individual trips to the city centre may require more than one bus so it is essential that service enhancement is consistent across the city.

4.12   Is it correct to assume that “taxi” is used as a generic term to include all private hire companies?  As there is significant taxi usage in the city, incentives and controls should be in place to ensure vehicles are low or zero emission.  Is it possible to explore this as a condition of licencing?

4.13   The public transport interventions (p30/31) require careful assessment to ensure that they deliver benefits to all and that those who currently rely on these services do not lose out.

4.14   Bus priority can also be enhanced through bus lane extensions and greater enforcement, including parking at bus stops.  These are actions that can be taken now.

4.15   The concept of buses ‘kissing’ the centre needs to be illustrated to show how it will work and to ensure that people don’t have to change buses unnecessarily.  Many existing routes work and are supported because they cross the city centre (e.g. between Western General Hospital and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) so introducing a change of bus may act as a disincentive.

4.16   More detail is needed on the proposed hopper service and the problem it is intended to solve. Likewise with the tram extensions on Lauriston Place and North/South Bridge which are surely unlikely to be delivered in the 10 year timeframe.

4.17   The desired 25% reduction in private vehicle movements in the city centre is noted (p32), but surely we can be more ambitious than that.  Apart from a few exceptions there is little need to bring a car into the city centre or to assume that residency in the centre requires it.  This target has to be revisited as well as consideration given to city-wide targets.

4.18   There is no target for reducing the commercial vehicle movements which contribute significantly to making walking unpleasant.  Traffic passing through the centre should be re-routed without detriment to other areas.  Vehicles coming into the centre will face greater kerbside restrictions, but this has to be accompanied by the rethink in vehicle types identified in the final bullet point on p32.

4.19   Reducing on-street parking (p34/35) is a key feature which is welcomed as it will increase space at a stroke for walking (and cycling) and will reduce car traffic looking for on-street places.  This has to involve more than lip service and a radical removal programme is required.  It must be accompanied by a work place parking levy, as well as a campaign to persuade businesses to voluntarily remove parking provision and replace it with incentives for employees to walk, cycle or use bus/tram/train. There is significant scope to apply this approach throughout the city and dramatically reduce the amount of on street parking in any location where public transport and walking/cycling are practical alternatives.

4.20   The Council has a policy that allows for car free developments, but it has been timid in applying it.   It should be the default position for new developments unless it can be demonstrated that the modes above cars in the hierarchy are not available.  Certainly within the city centre it has to be clear that no new off street parking is created aside from Blue Badge, car club and delivery bays. Otherwise new developments will generate more traffic growth. This must be set out in City Plan 2030. The space saved can go towards more housing (including affordable), more landscaping/gardens and allow for additional developer contributions towards public transport and other active travel infrastructure.   Developments such as the Engine Yard at Shrubhill on the edge of the city centre with its extensive underground car park should not be repeated.

4.21   The creation of an integrated transport and data management centre (p36/37) is noted, but more detail is required on what it involves and how it will operate to ensure it will be effective and provide all the data required.  This is critical as at present there is, for example, no proper monitoring of modal share.

4.22   The operations management plan is essential and it is surprising it does not already exist, but that would explain missed opportunities to enhance the walking experience.

4.23   It is assumed that the management of commercial bins includes the communal Council bins, but there also has to be management of private bins on the pavements.

4.24   The improvements in place (p38/39) are broadly welcomed.  There are however a number of specific comments:

  • The 4 vertical lifts will be an innovation, but it is hoped that their inclusion is based on reality and not vague ambition so as to avoid disappointment if they don’t happen.
  • The designated traffic free streets should be expanded to include Calton Road from the station car park to Leith Street and the eastern section of the Royal Mile.
  • Main Public Space Improvement should include all of the Royal Mile, Calton Road, Leith Street, Cowgate, Market Street, Lauriston Place, all of Princes Street, Waterloo Place/Regent Road and the full length of Queen Street.

4.25   The concept of catalyst areas is a useful means of showing in more detail at this stage what can be achieved, but it is important that these areas do not become the sole focus and the principles of transformation are applied across the entire strategy area. Living Streets Edinburgh welcomes the commitment to develop detailed proposals in close consultation with relevant stakeholders and wishes to be part of this process.

4.26   The diagram on p48 identifies Morrison Street for public realm improvement, but not as a walking route although many people use it as a direct link to Lothian Road. It is a busy and deeply unpleasant street, totally dominated by several lanes of traffic. The public realm improvements will not change this unless accompanied by wider pavements and a reduced number of lanes carrying less vehicular traffic. The rationalization of the Haymarket junction is welcomed, it is currently a nightmare for pedestrians and the improvements must put people on foot first.

4.27   It is appreciated that Lothian Road (p56) is a challenge and the decision to instigate change is welcome. If it is truly to become a tree-lined boulevard then people have to be the focus, yet it appears from the information available that there will still be 4 lanes of traffic. This should be reduced to allow the tree planting on areas that are currently taken up by road with the pavements on both sides widened to improve the pedestrian experience. There is reference to reallocation of traffic lanes on a number of roads, including the West Approach Road, which requires clarification. Again the detail of what is proposed for this area is important and we look forward to involvement in that process.

4.28   The First New Town Strategic Plan (p64) identifies public realm improvements on Princes Street, George Street and parts of other key streets, but then excludes key streets where improvement is also required.   Given that Queen Street, Frederick Street, Hanover Street, and North/South St David Street are all also identified as key streets they should be assessed for public realm improvement, both in terms of improving the fabric (e.g. cobbles on Frederick Street) and giving pedestrians priority. (e.g. the St. David Streets being particularly poor).

4.29   As the strategy is intended to provide a high-quality pedestrian focused environment across this area, it is assumed that the specific active travel routes identified on the plan are focused on cycling. In which case, it would be better to make segregated provision on George Street and The Mound (as currently proposed) and also create similar provision on Princes Street. Rose Street could then be enhanced to create a high quality pedestrian street, surely an early priority given that there is a longstanding commitment which is now many years overdue.

4.30   Despite rationalization of bus services and stops there will still be 4 lanes of traffic/tram. This should be reviewed to identify any opportunity to widen the pavement on the south side of Princes Street that is currently too narrow for the volume of people using it.

4.32   The introduction to the section on the Old Town (p71) correctly identifies that the primary aim is to enhance the experience for pedestrians and the principle impediment is the presence of vehicles in an area that was clearly never intended to accommodate them. Within this context drastic measures are called for and there is an argument for restricting access solely to vehicles necessary for servicing and disabled people. Residency in this part of the city should not be qualification for keeping a vehicle in it, particularly on the street. Comments on other aspects of the Old Town proposals have been made earlier in this submission.

4.31   Proposals for George Street and Meadows to George Street schemes are at an advanced stage of preparation having been subject to consultation. It is assumed that they are compatible with and reflect the ambition of this Strategy.

4.33   The Waverley/Calton proposals (p78) embrace the area covered by the emerging Waverley Station Masterplan.  This strategy has a 10 year timescale and the Masterplan, covering a smaller area, is for a period of 30 years.  Ideally both projects would be implemented in the same timeframe so it may be worth exploring if the Masterplan could be condensed into 10 years, at least the significant and most disruptive elements.  Alternatively, a more realistic timeline for both projects may be 15 years, but in any case delivery has to be aligned.

4.34   Proposals to enhance the walking experience in and around the station are generally welcome, but detail is required.  For example, what does pedestrian priority mean on Waverley Bridge?  Tour buses will be removed, but it is unclear which buses if any will still be permitted, although it was understood from the Masterplan consultation that they would all be removed.

4.35   The issue of service traffic for the shopping centre and station has to be addressed as there is potential for conflict.  The possibility of servicing by rail, including short haul from other stations around the city, should be investigated.  There should be no provision for car parking other than bluebadge holders.

4.36   The eastern end of Princes Street is currently an unpleasant place for pedestrians with a combination of traffic volume, fumes, barriers, narrow footway on southern side and conflict with the large volume of people entering and leaving the station via Waverley Steps.   This Strategy and the Masterplan can address this situation.  Space should be taken from the road to widen the pavement on the southern side, traffic has to be reduced and the public realm enhanced.

4.37   The North Bridge/Princes Street/Leith Street junction is one of the worst pedestrian experiences in the city centre.  It is difficult to navigate and confusing for the unfamiliar.  The plethora of barriers should be removed, traffic reduced, and the pedestrian crossings redesigned to ease navigation and give walkers priority.

4.38   The redevelopment of Edinburgh St James had potential to transform Picardy Place and Leith Street, but that ship has sailed, the opportunity is lost and the works currently underway are the polar opposite of what this strategy intends.  There is still an opportunity to mitigate matters with public realm improvements, including significant tree planting, prioritise pedestrians at all crossings and close Calton Road to traffic.

4.39   With the intended reduction in traffic entering the centre and closure/restricted access in several streets there is likely to be some displacement.  It is possible that this may impact negatively on the Bridges/Nicolson Street, which are understood to already have the worst accident records in the city.  North Bridge is to have reallocation of traffic lanes, but it is unclear how it will be transformed for pedestrians.

4.40   It would be useful to have sight of the traffic modeling that was presumably undertaken as part the strategy to ascertain if displaced traffic would ‘evaporate’ or end up on this corridor.  The issue of displacement is part of the case for tackling transformation across the city and not only in the centre.

4.41   The Innovation Mile (p86) covers an area where walking is not subject to the same level of competition for space, but there is still scope to enhance the experience and that is welcomed. Public realm improvements to Lauriston Place are appreciated, but there are also locations (usually at junctions) where pavements should be widened to accommodate the number of pedestrians.  South Bridge/Nicolson Street requires enhancement and pavements widened.  There would appear to be an intention to remove the rather brutalist over/underpass at Bristo Square which is welcome.  There is no mention of the long standing Causey project which is a gateway to Nicolson Street and the “Innovation Mile”.  It is 10 years over due and should be included as an early priority.

  1. Conclusion

5.1      This Strategy and the actions that flow from it can transform the walking environment in the city. The Council is to be congratulated for instigating the project, now Living Streets Edinburgh is keen to work with the Council and others to realise the ambition within it.

 

 

 

 

Powderhall Consultation – our Response to City of Edinburgh Council

  1. Please accept these comments from Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) in response to the Council’s Powderhall consultation.
  2. Living Streets Edinburgh aims to promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh and to achieve this we want to see:
    • Walking given the top priority over other forms of travel in all Council transport and planning policies
    • Reduction in the volume of motorised traffic and its impact on people using the street
    • Better designed and maintained pavements, road crossings and other pedestrian facilities
    • More effective and joined-up monitoring and inspection of the walking environment by Edinburgh Council
    • Planning policy which encourages dense, sustainable housing over car-dominated development
    • More effective implementation of pro-walking policies ‘on the ground’.
  3. Given its ownership of the entire Powderhall site, and the fact that this will be maintained post-development, the Council is in the position of being able to set an example by planning and implementing development of the site to reflect these objectives in accordance with national and local planning policy.
  4. Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) has clear statements on reducing reliance on private cars and prioritising sustainable and active travel choices (para 46) and promoting opportunities for travel by more sustainable modes in the following order of priority: walking, cycling, public transport, cars (para 273).
  5. The aims of the Local Development Plan (LDP) include:
    • help ensure that the citizens of Edinburgh can get around easily by sustainable transport modes to access jobs and services
    • look after and improve our environment for future generations in a changing climate
  6. The Transport Section of the LDP states that the relationship between land uses and how people move between them is fundamental in promoting sustainable development and its objectives include:
    • to minimise the distances people need to travel
    • to promote and prioritise travel by sustainable means i.e. walking, cycling and by public transport
    • to minimise the detrimental effects of traffic and parking on communities and the environment.
  7. The Council’s Design Guide states that greater emphasis has now been placed on creating places that support the development of a compact, sustainable city. There is support for walking, cycling and public transport, revised parking controls in new developments and encouragement for high density to make public transport more viable.
  8. The Council has recently resolved to consult on a prospectus – ‘Connecting Our City, Transforming Our Places’. 
The prospectus builds on existing national and local policy and states, inter alia:
    ‘By 2040, Edinburgh’s population will be close to 600,000, an increase of 100,000, and the city-region is also growing, accounting for a quarter of the Scottish population. This growth and the potential strain on the transport network and city spaces needs to be managed to improve access to public transport, increase journeys on foot and by bike, and prevent unsustainable increases in car travel.
    We must join cities like Copenhagen, Oslo, Barcelona and other leading cities in reshaping how our city works and become synonymous with urban innovation if we are to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges we face. “
  9. Within this context it is clear that there is both a requirement on and a commitment by the Council to make a break from the traditional car based approach to development and put people first.  Powderhall is an ideal location for this approach to be put into practice as it is close to the city centre and is well served by walking and cycling routes, public transport and car club bays at Powder Hall, Dunedin Street and multiple points on McDonald Road.
  10. An additional opportunity exists at Powderhall as St. Mark’s Path, which bisects the site, is an important walking route as part of the active travel network, linking Broughton Road/McDonald Road/Leith Walk to The Water of Leith, St. Mark’s Park, Warriston and the established path network beyond.   This path is part of the Council’s Quiet Route 20 Craigleith-Leith Walk-Restalrig on City Centre/North Edinburgh Map.  The Council seeks to consolidate and enhance the network of Quiet Routes.  A well-conceived development at Powderhall will contribute to this.
  11. The Council has a delayed programme of works to upgrade Quiet Route 20 at McDonald Road, including new crossings outside the school and a four-way controlled junction with Broughton Road. This should be completed as soon as possible and be in place before the Powderhall scheme is ready for occupation.
  12. Furthermore, the existing rail line to Powderhall is now redundant and there is the opportunity, in conjunction with redevelopment at Meadowbank (also under the Council’s control), to expand the walking route to Leith Walk, Easter Road and beyond and, in the other direction, over an upgraded Water of Leith bridge to St. Mark’s Park, and established paths to the northwest.
  13. In addition to the opportunities presented within and adjoining the site, there is also potential to capitalize on the ease of access to Redbraes Park/Community Garden (which abuts the site), Pilrig Park and the Royal Botanic Garden.
  14. Bus services currently exist on Broughton Road, Rodney Street and Pilrig Street.  A car free development at Powderhall offers an opportunity to enhance these services, as well as increase in car club provision, to benefit new and existing residents.
  15. Further improvements on Broughton Rd at Redbraes and the railway bridge are already needed, especially pavement widening which would assist with traffic calming on the approach to the school.  This development can provide the catalyst for these works and they should be costed into the plans.
  16. It is understood from Council staff at the August 2018 consultation events that the current intention, following earlier consultation, is to pursue a nursery/community use on the bowling green site to the south of St. Mark’s Path and rented housing on the former waste transfer station site to the north.  The housing component will be a mixture of social, mid-market and open market rent with no private developers and no houses for sale.  The Council will lead the development and retain ownership.
  17. This approach is entirely logical given the proximity to Broughton Primary School, the residential character of the surrounding area and the opportunity it presents for the Council to exercise direct control over the creation of an exemplar for sustainable living in an urban context.
  18. Given this background, a car free development becomes an attractive proposition.  There will be costs associated with removal of buildings/structures and contaminated material from the existing Waste Transfer Station.  A car free project will enhance development viability and offset costs by reducing the level of provision for access roads/parking and allowing a higher density development with more units.
  19. In addition to the economic benefits, this approach gives greater scope for an imaginative layout with less constraint on the relationships between buildings, greater potential for creating high quality shared spaces and safe walking and cycling links through the site to the existing network.  There will be minimal additional traffic generated onto the surrounding road network, which will mean that the objectives of the Quiet Route are not compromised and impact on established development will be less.
  20. Having identified the opportunity that exists at Powderhall a radical approach is justified based on the following:
    • Taking a starting point that the development will be car free (as allowed for by Policy TRA2 in the LDP) apart from provision required for disabled residents/visitors and essential servicing.
    • Create an attractive and safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists within the new development with links to the surrounding walking and cycling network.
      In association with the above, identify and implement improvements to off site walking routes. The redundant rail line in particular offers a unique opportunity, especially as development at Powderhall will be within a similar timeframe to the Council’s Meadowbank redevelopment.
    • Take advantage of the location to enhance access by walking to the series of major green spaces via the active travel network.
      The area enjoys a reasonable level of bus services, which must be enhanced and made an even more attractive proposition.
    • Use the project as an opportunity to enhance off-site management and secure improvements to the surrounding road network, including Broughton Road and McDonald Road/Quiet Route 20, to improve air quality and create a more attractive environment for walking and other active travel.
    • Promote the development as car free, make it clear that parking permits will not be granted for adjoining streets, and introduce incentives for walking, cycling and public transport.
  21. There is a real opportunity in Powderhall and other sites within its control for the Council to take a lead and create exemplars for urban living that reflect Edinburgh’s position as a major European city.  Within this context Living Streets Edinburgh would be extremely happy to work with the Council and others during the forthcoming master planning stage and beyond to ensure that Powderhall gets a development that we can all be proud of.
  22. When progress on Powderhall next comes before the Council we respectfully request that this submission be reported in full without editing or précis.

LSEG 10 September 2018

The full response can be downloaded as a PDF document here

Response to City of Edinburgh Council Meadowbank Consultation

  1. Please accept these comments from Living Streets Edinburgh in response to the Council’s Meadowbank consultation.
  2. Living Streets Edinburgh aims to promote walking as a safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh and to achieve this we want to see:
    • Walking given the top priority over other forms of travel in all Council transport and planning policies
    • 
Reduction in the volume of motorised traffic and its impact on people using the street
    • 
Better designed and maintained pavements, road crossings and other pedestrian facilities
    • 
More effective and joined-up monitoring and inspection of the walking environment by Edinburgh Council
    • 
Planning policy which encourages dense, sustainable housing over car-dominated development
    • 
More effective implementation of pro-walking policies ‘on the ground’.
  3. 
Given its role in Meadowbank, the Council is in the position of being able to set an example by planning and implementing development of the site to reflect these objectives in accordance with national and local planning policy.
  4. Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) has clear statements on reducing reliance on private cars and prioritising sustainable and active travel choices (para 46) and promoting opportunities for travel by more sustainable modes in the following order of priority: walking, cycling, public transport, cars (para 273).
  5. The aims of the Local Development Plan (LDP) include:
    • 
help ensure that the citizens of Edinburgh can get around easily by    sustainable transport modes to access jobs and services
    • look after and improve our environment for future generations in a  changing climate.
  6. The Transport Section of the LDP states that the relationship between land uses and how people move between them is fundamental in promoting sustainable development and its objectives include:
    • to minimise the distances people need to travel
      to promote and prioritise travel by sustainable means i.e. 
walking, cycling and by public transport
    • to minimise the detrimental effects of traffic and parking on communities and the environment.
  7. 
The Council’s Design Guide states that greater emphasis has now  been placed on creating places that support the development of a compact, sustainable city. There is support for active travel and public transport, revised parking controls in new developments and encouragement for high density to make public transport more viable.
  8. The Council has recently resolved to consult on a prospectus – ‘Connecting Our City, Transforming Our Places’. The prospectus builds on existing national and local policy and states, inter alia: 
‘By 2040, Edinburgh’s population will be close to 600,000, an increase of 100,000, and the city-region is also growing, accounting for a quarter of the Scottish population. This growth and the potential strain on the transport network and city spaces needs to be managed to improve access to public transport, increase journeys on foot and by bike, and prevent unsustainable increases in car travel. 
We must join cities like Copenhagen, Oslo, Barcelona and other leading cities in reshaping how our city works and become synonymous with urban innovation if we are to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges we face.’
  9. Within this context it is clear that there is both a requirement and a commitment by the Council to make a break from the traditional car based approach to development and put people first. Meadowbank is an ideal location for this approach to be put into practice.
  10. 
The Transport Assessment submitted with the application for planning permission in principle clearly identified the problems that already exist with the surrounding road network/traffic management infrastructure and the unacceptable impact that further development would have.
  11. A radical approach is therefore justified which should be based on the following:
    • Taking a starting point that the development will be car free (as allowed for by Policy TRA2 in the LDP) apart from provision required for disabled residents/visitors and essential servicing.
    • 
Create an attractive and safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists within the new development with links to the surrounding active travel network.
    • In association with the above, identify and implement improvements to the off site active travel network. This should include converting the now redundant rail line to Powder Hall to create a high quality of walk/cycleway to Easter Road, Leith Walk, the wider North Edinburgh Path Network and off road routes to Portobello and Leith Links.
    • 
The Abbeyhill loop line should be included within the active travel network and the rail solum protected to facilitate potential future return to rail use to alleviate congestion at the east end of Waverley Station.
    • 
The area enjoys a good level of bus services, which should be enhanced and made an even more attractive proposition.
    • 
Use the project as an opportunity to enhance off-site management and secure improvements to the surrounding road network to improve air quality and create a more attractive environment for active travel.
    • 
Promote the development as car free, make it clear that parking permits will not be granted for adjoining streets and introduce incentives for active travel and public transport.
  12. 
There is a real opportunity in Meadowbank and other sites within its control for the Council to take a lead and create exemplars for urban living that reflect Edinburgh’s position as a major European city.
  13. 
Within this context Living Streets Edinburgh would be extremely happy to work with the Council and others to ensure that Meadowbank gets a development that we can all be proud of.
  14. 
When progress on Meadowbank next comes before the Council 
we respectfully request that this submission be reported in full without editing or précis.

LSEG 6 September 2018

The document is available as here as a PDF file here

Car-free Edinburgh for Festival for 2016?

Dear Councillor Hinds

Picture (c) Reggie Ticker
Picture (c) Reggie Ticker

Living Streets Edinburgh would like to ask that the Council formally considers the widespread closure of streets during next summer’s festival season.  This year, many of our members noted how many city centre pavements were so crowded (especially in the Old Town) that they were not only uncomfortable, but also felt unsafe. In addition, bus timetables became highly unreliable. Narrow pavements were occupied by hundreds of people, while wide roads were occupied by a handful of vehicles. The situation was exacerbated in streets like the Cowgate, where pavements were also frequently blocked by vehicles servicing venues. Unlike Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games (with similar attendances), there are no special provisions such as Park and Ride.

150811172622IMG_2814As a result, the way that Edinburgh’s streets are used at this time of year has become completely out of balance. We believe that the festival has grown to such an extent that a wholesale review is required to make much of central Edinburgh car-free during the peak festival season. This will make the Edinburgh festivals more enjoyable and successful, with a positive effect on travel, safety, tourism and the economy.

We therefore ask that a report is brought to appropriate Council Committee(s) to recommend measures which will redress this imbalance and make much of the city centre car-free for 2016. This report should consider the extent of street closures to general traffic (apart from buses) and recommend what exemptions might be made (considering issues such as emergency vehicles, taxis, deliveries and disabled parking).

We hope that you will agree to this request and look forward to your reply.

Kind regards

David Spaven

Convenor, Living Streets Edinburgh Group

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