Opinion Former Article

Edinburgh sets out city transformation plans

The Committee will be asked to approve the draft Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy for a six week public consultation to begin next week.

The strategy sets out a programme of measures to prioritise movement on foot, bike and public transport in central streets and to improve the public realm over the next 10 years.

This could include the creation of a city centre tram loop – which would serve the University of Edinburgh – linked to a possible southern tram route over the North Bridge to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

The strategy also proposes a pedestrian priority zone and car free streets in the city’s old and new towns – with a new non motorised user bridge planned between the two – as well as a connected network of segregated cycle routes across the city centre and a free hopper bus to support those travelling without a car.

Improvements to streets and public spaces are also planned to complement the city’s heritage, with lifts and other vertical connections to be provided at key locations to support people with mobility restrictions to explore different street levels.

“By creating public spaces that are more welcoming and enjoyable, making walking and cycling in the city centre easier and safer and improving access to public transport networks we want to equip the city for the future,” said Edinburgh’s transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes.

The proposals are linked closely with ambitions to improve air quality through the introduction of a Low Emission Zone, which are also due to be considered by the Transport & Environment Committee tomorrow.

The zone would comprise of a city centre boundary for all polluting vehicles and a city wide boundary for buses, coaches and commercial vehicles. Implementation of the scheme is expected to start by the end of 2020 and would be rolled out in phases.

Public consultation on the City Centre Transformation Strategy is set to take place between 20 May and 28 June. Feedback will be taken into consideration when preparing the final strategy and a costed 10 year delivery plan, which is expected to be presented in September.

Contractors preparing to extend Edinburgh’s tram network from York Place to Newhaven are due to start ground and site investigation works later this month. The work will allow the 4.5km project’s final design to be confirmed ahead of construction work getting under way.

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