Edinburgh publishes key design principles for the George Street and First New Town project
The essential elements of an ambitious final concept for the transformation of George Street and First New Town (GNT) in Edinburgh have been published by the local authority along with an updated future operational plan.
A final design for the project, which aims to create a user-friendly environment, better walking, cycling and road links and a more attractive environment, was unveiled in February. A subsequent public engagement exercise in March revealed broad support for the plans. Work with major stakeholder groups, including Edinburgh World Heritage, Edinburgh essential, Living streets, George Street Association and Spokes and public consultation helped inform basic elements and design principles to underpin final plans.
These include wider sidewalks on both sides of George Street, “greening” and landscaping that respects the heritage of the region, and the creation of a “cycle street”. Fundamental design elements also include the removal of buses and other non-essential traffic from George Street in accordance with the City mobility plan, as well as a reduction in parking spaces to free up space for walking, cycling and wheeling.
A series of proposed operational changes would support the transformation of the area and form the basis for the development of the statutory notification process which is necessary to allow the construction of the project. The operational plan will be further developed during the next project design phase, which begins in September. The proposed operational principles will be finalized in partnership with key stakeholders, local businesses and residents.
Key principles of the operational plan cover prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists, prioritizing blue badge parking, and removing all but essential car traffic from George Street, among other operational changes.
Councilor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment coordinator, said: “We have reached a key milestone as we move forward with this major project to transform George Street and surrounding areas. These fundamental elements for the design and operation of the device will be at the heart of its realization over the next few years.
“This is exactly the kind of transformational change we want to make in Edinburgh. Wider sidewalks, significantly improved cycling infrastructure, and relaxed landscaped spaces in harmony with the historic setting will not only create a safer and more welcoming environment for people, but it will encourage travel on foot, by bike or by wheel. Facilitating sustainable transport is crucial if we are to meet our zero carbon goals and improve air quality for future generations.
Councilor Karen Doran, Vice President of Transport and Environment, said: “We have worked hard to involve the active travel, accessibility and heritage community, businesses and groups in developing these plans, and their feedback has been essential.
“As we move forward, we want to continue to bring all of those who have contributed with us, and we will continue to engage with them as we take the exciting next steps towards project delivery. “
The GNT project is a key part of the Edinburgh City Center Transformation (ECCT) strategy and delivery plan and its formation follows years of engagement and development with the community, businesses and other stakeholders. This included a one-year trial in 2014 and 15.
Its delivery will be closely linked to other major active travel programs planned for the city center, namely From Meadows to George Street (MGS) and City center link from west to east (CCWEL). In addition, it aligns with the recently approved City Mobility Plan (CMP), which aims to overhaul the bus network by 2025, based on the “to not through” principle, and a car-free city center. ‘by 2030.
During GNT’s next design stage, it is expected that enough details will emerge from the design process to allow the necessary statutory authorizations to begin by the end of 2021, under which the authority to build the system would be obtained. . The project is supported by funding of up to £ 20million from the Sustrans Places for Everyone program, with 100% of design costs and 70% of construction costs covered by the grant.
Read the full report, George Street and First New Town – Final concept design and operational plan update, on the council’s website. You can watch the discussion of the report by the transport and environment committee live from 10 am on Thursday August 19 via webcast.