Tag Archives: Edinburgh Council

Objection to Planning ref 21/02434/FUL – Pipe Lane

Living Streets is the UK Charity for Everyday Walking. Living Streets Edinburgh Group aims to promote walking as the safe, enjoyable and easy way of getting around Edinburgh.

These comments on this application are from Living Streets Edinburgh Group.
https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/local-groups/edinburgh

Scottish Planning Policy clearly sets out the hierarchy for transport modes (para 273) – walking, cycling, public transport and finally private cars in that order. It goes on to say that planning permission should not be granted for significant travel-generating uses (para 287) at locations which would increase reliance on the car, where walking and cycling networks are not available, and where public transport to local facilities involves walking more than 400m. Designing Streets: A Policy Statement for Scotland reinforces this policy and clearly states (pg15) that the street user hierarchy should consider pedestrians first and private motor vehicles last. The National Transport Strategy states (pg5) that walking, cycling and shared transport take precedence ahead of private car use. It goes on to illustrate this position with reference to The Sustainable Travel Hierarchy (Fig14 pg43) – walking and wheeling, cycling, public transport, taxis & shared transport, private car. So, the Scottish Government position is quite clear that people walking and wheeling are the priority, with the expectation that this is delivered by developers and local authorities via their planning and highways functions.

The City of Edinburgh Council Local Development Plan 2016 does not articulate or follow this national policy as it should, but there are references within it to providing for walking and cycling, new road space not encouraging greater car use, bringing accessibility by and use of non-car modes up to acceptable levels, opportunities for ‘car free’ housing developments e.g Policy Des 7, Policy Tra 1, Policy Tra 2. The Council has adopted Street Design Guidance which has much useful content and is stated as embracing Scottish Government’s Designing Streets document, but it is not always adhered to in practice.

The recent consultation on CityPlan 2030 has highlighted a wide preference for development of brownfield sites, greater provision for walking and cycling, reduced use of private cars and less car parking provision. The Council is currently proceeding to draft the next Local Development Plan on this basis and in 2020 stated that ‘pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy.’

The COVID-19 pandemic, although a dreadful event, has provided an opportunity for people to take stock and consider what is important to them. There have already been changes to the way we all live and work, and the likelihood is that much of this, as reflected in the CityPlan 2030 consultation, will be here to stay.

Scottish Government Policy has clearly articulated walking as a priority for several years, whist developers and the Council have at best paid it lip service and often ignored it completely. Now that emerging Council planning policy and public expectations are becoming aligned with national policy it is vital that the opportunity is taken to reset the clock and reflect this in all planning decisions.

Having set out the context for consideration of this application, and without commenting on other non-walking aspects, Living Streets Edinburgh Group makes the following constructive comments:

  • The location of the site in Portobello is extremely accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.
  • The site adjoins the seafront and is accessed by a network of narrow streets already congested with parked vehicles.
  • The additional vehicle movements will compound an existing unsatisfactory situation when there is no need to do so.
  • The site therefore justifies a car free development which is permitted by Council policy and it is requested that approval is only granted if the parking spaces are removed, other than for disabled parking, and this will in turn give scope for more landscaping and amenity space.
  • The Council now acknowledges that pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy, so to accord with Council expectations the proposals must reflect this position.

Cut the Pavement Clutter!

In 2019, we launched a project about the problems caused by pavement clutter – and what we can do about it [ https://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2019/10/18/tackling-street-clutter-through-locality-working/ ]. We’re now delighted to launch a new video and report about the project. “Cut the Pavement Clutter” looks at a number of questions:

  • what is pavement clutter?
  • why does it matter? and (most importantly)
  • what can we do about it?

We hope that these resources will be used as widely as possible to raise awareness of the problems which cluttered pavements cause, and to raise the bar in making streets better for everyday walking.  Anyone is welcome to use them freely – for example in presentations, conferences, seminars or staff training events.

Of course, we need more fundamental transformation of many of our streets too, but most streets in Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK would be better places almost overnight, if we could ‘cut the clutter’.

 

The video can be found on our YouTube channel here – https://youtu.be/_owjs7clKfk

The full Cut the Clutter report can be found here (PDF, 5.5mb) – Living-Streets-Edinburgh-Cut-The-Clutter

You can watch the launch event here: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/cuttheclutter . There are contributions by Mary Creacgh, Chief Executive of Living Streets, Cllr Lesley Macinness, Convenor of Transport and Environment Committee, City of Edinburgh Council, and Tom Rye, Professor of Transport Policy, University of Molde, Norway. The event includes a wider discussion of how to design streets fit for everyday walking and was chaired by our Convenor, David Hunter, whose blog can also be found at this link.

Thanks to Paths for All for funding from the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places fund, and to Living Streets Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council for their support for the project.

Shopping Streets – LSE response to Edinburgh Council

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the various schemes to widen pavements in shopping streets (eg Corstorphine, Portobello, Morningside etc). This is a general response to all these schemes, although where we are able to, we will add supplementary comments on specific streets/locations.

First of all, we strongly support the initiative to widen pavements, which in many ‘town centre’ streets are grossly inadequate. This can only be done in many cases by removing on-street parking and loading, except for essential requirements (such as Blue Badge spaces where appropriate). We appreciate that some shops will want to see these parking and loading spaces retained, but crowded narrow pavements cannot possibly be an attractive environment for encouraging shoppers, may of whom arrive on foot or by public transport. Too much space in high streets is occupied by stationary vehicles.

We welcome the acknowledgment of the problems caused by clutter and guard rails and would encourage the council to take a much more vigorous approach to removing or relocating items including unnecessary phone boxes, royal mail boxes, telecoms cabinets etc as well as vertical signage on poles, many of which are no longer required since the Traffic Sign Regulations were changed in 2016.  Decluttering should take account of the various surveys and audits which Living Streets and others have carried out in recent years in many of the locations.

Design details will need to carefully consider and monitor access at bus stops especially for disabled people. We generally support bus priority measures including bus gates.

Where more outdoor space for businesses is provided (eg ‘tables and chairs’) it is essential that adequate clear space is provided for pedestrians and that the benefits to walking of widened footways are not swallowed up by added obstructions. It may be that ‘tables and chairs’ should normally be on reclaimed carriageway space, allowing the pavements themselves to be kept clear.

While we appreciate that these are temporary measures which need to be installed urgently, the extensive use of cones, barriers etc will make many streets look like roadworks, and thus risk making shopping streets look pretty ugly – if we actually want them to contribute to moving discussion forward it’s important that opportunities are taken to make things look better. Suitable gateway features / signage information for the public on the purpose / benefits of the scheme would be useful.

Effective management of schemes is essential, so that cones or barriers that fall over are quickly dealt with. Enforcement of parking and speeding, including a visible role of Police Scotland is important too.

Temporary bike parking should be installed at suitable locations, where they do not add to pavement clutter.

Monitoring of schemes must collect robust data on walking/footfall.

A 5 point plan for City of Edinburgh Council to promote walking during social distancing

Introduction

It is currently impossible for pedestrians to maintain social distancing on many Edinburgh streets, which have pavements that are not wide enough.  As ‘lockdown’ measures are eased, but social distancing requirements maintained with more people on the street, it will be even more vital to increase the amount of safe space for walking. This will be a particular challenge when schools eventually re-open. Wider measures – notably to encourage cycling – will also be needed when lockdown measures are eased to ensure safe, efficient transport, with a likely reduction in the capacity of Edinburgh’s bus network. However, now more than ever, action is needed to ensure that walking’s place at the top of travel hierarchies is put into practice.

This paper focus on five immediate measures to encourage walking.   Many of these measures could be introduced at little cost while the additional £10m funding from the Scottish Government could be used to fund others, including the removal of larger, more complex structures such as the obsolete ‘real-time’ parking displays.

There are a number of resources which the Council has commissioned in recent years which contain specific suggestions to improve the walking environment on streets, such as the ‘Street Life Assessments’, ‘Street Reviews’ by Living Streets Scotland and the recent work by LSEG on ‘Tackling Street Clutter’. We recommend that these resources are revisited and used to guide immediate measures.

 

1) Pavement Widening

We want to see a programme of temporary pavement widening, focusing on high footfall streets such as ‘retail/high street’ and public transport corridors. The classification of streets in the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance provides a ready strategic framework to assist in identifying such streets. This will in places require removal of parking/loading/waiting permissions. To complement this process, the following streets have been identified as potential candidates by the LSEG Committee members and also from social media (see especially:

  • South Bridge/Nicolson Street/Clerk Street
  • Great Junction Street
  • Ferry Road
  • St Johns Road/A8
  • Queensferry Road
  • George IV Bridge
  • London Road
  • Easter Road
  • Dalry Road
  • Milton Road East
  • Lower Granton Road
  • Niddrie Mains Road
  • Raeburn Place
  • Morningside Road
  • Morrison Street
  • Captains Road
  • Liberton Road
  • Burdiehouse Road
  • Frogston Road
  • Comiston Road
  • Colinton Road

 

2) Road closures

In residential areas, many streets could be closed to through traffic, while retaining access by motor vehicles to/for residents through barriers (‘filters’). This will reduce traffic on local streets, making walking and cycling safer. This may apply particularly in residential areas (eg Oxgangs, Bingham, Lochend, Stenhouse etc).

 

3) Guardrails

Guardrails which hem in pedestrians over long stretches of pavement (for example, Slateford Road bridge) are particularly inappropriate at present. The Council already has a presumption against these features unless there is a compelling need, but Edinburgh has a legacy of many such guardrails from earlier, outdated street design philosophies. A programme of removal should be introduced immediately to accelerate the removal of inappropriate guardrails.

 

4) Decluttering

Removal of streets clutter is a ‘quick win’ to aid walking and social distancing. As with guardrails the Council already has a policy of de-cluttering which should be accelerated at the present time. This could include ‘sweeps’ of roads to remove old roadworks debris such as traffic cones, sandbags, old signs etc which litter many streets, and also removal of redundant and empty signage poles (many of which have been notified to locality teams as part of LSEG’s ‘tackling Street clutter’ project).

 

5) Signals

Traffic signals, including signalled pedestrian crossings, should be reconfigured so as to give pedestrians priority – eg immediate ‘green man’, increased crossing time, single crossing of staggered crossings, etc. This will aid walking movement and also reduce the risk of pedestrian congestion at lights, islands, etc.

COUNCIL SLATED FOR CREATING OVER 1,000 NEW CITY CENTRE PARKING SPACES

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: http://bit.ly/3bm3yq3

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

[1] Living Streets Edinburgh Group is the local volunteer arm of Living Streets, the national charity for ‘everyday walking’, see: http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk

[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: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/traffic_regulation_order_tro1929?nocache=incoming-1511839#incoming-1511839

[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: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-planning-policy/

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