Latest plan published to advance flagship project to transform Edinburgh’s city centre

Posted: 1 November 2022 | | No comments yet

Edinburgh’s George Street and First New Town flagship project aims to transform the city centre by creating more people-friendly spaces that facilitate walking, cycling and sustainable transport across the Scottish capital.

Latest plan published to advance flagship project to transform Edinburgh's city centre

Credit: City of Edinburgh Council

The City of Edinburgh Council has announced that the final developed design elements for the George Street and First New Town (GNT) project, as well as an updated operational plan, have been published as part of the latest phase of the design process – Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stage 3. 

Developed design proposals, to be considered by Transport and Environment Committee on 3 November 2022, have been built with the aim to create more welcoming, people-friendly spaces, support accessibility, walking and cycling, as well as celebrate Edinburgh’s unique heritage.

Amongst the ‘core elements’ of the Stage 3 Developed Design are:

  • Significantly widened pavements
  • Creation of a European style cycling street
  • Removal of parking bays, while retaining blue badge and essential resident parking, amongst others.

Furthermore, 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, RIBA Stage 4.

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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. The latest proposals build on years of public and business engagement, all of which has improved the design. As part of this stage of development, the project team has carried out a significant package of in-depth assessments to address GNT’s impact on residents, businesses, public safety and the economy, amongst other factors, and to ensure final designs take varied needs into account.”

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

If recommendations are approved by Transport and Environment Committee, the George Street and First New Town project will progress to Stage 4, which sets out key processes required for its delivery. This includes the promotion of all necessary statutory processes, such as Traffic Regulation and Redetermination Orders, which will allow construction to commence in 2024. This stage will also deliver the final Operational Plan.