The City of Edinburgh Council has unveiled final proposed concept designs for the transformation of historic George Street.
Detailed designs by LDA Design, with a 3D fly-through by Luma 3D Interactive, offer a glimpse of what George Street and the surrounding area could look like in 2025.
Significantly widened pavements, improved lighting, inviting spaces for play and relaxation, and a cycling thoroughfare, largely car free, make for a more people-focussed setting. By retaining symmetry and removing street clutter alongside urban greening, the designs both protect the area’s heritage and enhance the environment. The impact of heavy rain and floods will be reduced through the sustainable management of surface water, including soft landscaping and areas of permeable surfacing.
The scheme is a key element of the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation, which includes walking, wheeling and cycling connections to the forthcoming Meadows to George Street and City Centre West to East Link routes. It also supports the City Mobility Plan, a ten-year strategy to overhaul transport and mobility in the Scottish capital to deliver a sustainable, net-zero carbon and inclusive future, where travel by active and public transport is easy and reliable.
The final concept designs follow several years of development and engagement with the public and stakeholders to refine design objectives, including community councils and heritage groups such as Edinburgh World Heritage, and business, walking, cycling and accessibility groups. During February and March, further engagement will take place with key groups and the public. Final designs will be brought to the Transport and Environment Committee in April before a statutory TRO process begins
Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “This vision has been years in the making and follows significant engagement with the public and a range of groups representing different interests. It’s essential that its design works for everyone, which is why we’ve spent time ensuring it meets people’s access needs, that it allows residents to go about their daily lives and that it will encourage local businesses to flourish.”
Kirstin Taylor, a director at LDA Design, says that the designers had sought to respond to a wide range of views on the future of the street, and it felt an exciting moment for Edinburgh. “If approved, these designs will make George Street a nicer place to lunch and dwell. There will be significantly less traffic and the street greening will also help make the city more climate resilient.”
Edinburgh World Heritage are highly supportive of the design. “Over time, the proposal has evolved into a simple and elegant design, removing traffic and street clutter, with the potential to enhance the character and authenticity of this significant centrepiece of the first New Town in relation to its existing state. New elements have been carefully introduced and will echo the symmetry and materials of the historic streetscape. Based on the current visuals, we believe these changes will improve the way the street is experienced and valued by putting pedestrians first and allowing them to enjoy the rich heritage which surrounds them.”
If approved, construction work could begin in 2023, with an anticipated completion in 2025. It is expected to cost £32m, with £20m from Transport Scotland via Sustrans.
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3D fly-through by Luma 3D Interactive.