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George Street revamp reaches final stage

People-friendly George Street by the Assembly Rooms

A project to transform the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town has reached a key milestone with final designs for a pedestrianised George Street.

If recommendations are approved, the project will move closer to construction starting in 2024.

Developed design proposals, to be considered by Transport and Environment Committee on 3 November aim to create more welcoming, people-friendly spaces, support accessibility, walking and cycling and celebrate Edinburgh’s unique heritage.

Amongst the ‘core elements’ are significantly widened pavements; the creation of a European style cycling street; removal of parking bays, while retaining blue badge 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.

Updated principles for the First New Town operation plan, which will support the area’s transformation, 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 wider First New Town; and methods for enforcing the changes. Further engagement and analysis on the plan will be carried out during the next design stage in the process.

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.

Wider pavements will be a key feature

“The latest proposals build on years of public and business engagement, all of which has improved the design.

“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.

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director, Sustrans, said: “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.”

Core Elements include:

• Wider pavements (approx four metres) on both sides of George Street along the entire street length, increasing accessibility for pedestrians
• Landscaping confined to planters and low hedges, within sensitively balanced landscaped seating areas where people can relax
• European cycling street within the central carriageway of the new street, interfacing with both CCWEL and MGS to create a network of strategic cycling routes
• Redesign of junctions to provide cycling and pedestrian priority while also improving the visual setting around the central statues
• Integrated Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) allowing surface water to drain naturally via the creation of rainwater gardens
• Material finishes of natural stone, developed in close partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland and the Cockburn Association
• Designs and placemaking influenced by woman’s safety and Threat, Vulnerability and Risk assessments

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