A recommendation for the closure of the top of Leith Street in both directions for all traffic except cyclists for up to 44 weeks is due to presented to the Transport & Environment Committee on 21 March.
At the March NTBCC meeting, a last minute briefing by representatives from the Leith Street Stakeholder Engagement team was made - prompting disappointment (that residents were ‘left in the dark’), frustration with the process and concern over the consequences in equal measure.
The Stakeholder Engagement team did acknowledge that their “stakeholder engagement“ was more communication – resulting in NTBCC being told what diversions would happen. NTBCC were frustrated over the absence of a more useful consultation process with a reasonable time to respond.
Whilst we accept that, for efficiency and public safety, that it will be necessary to close Leith Street for a period of time to enable the work to be carried out and we also accept that considerable work has gone into the diversion routes proposed for bus and general traffic. However, it is unclear to us that a closure for as long as 44 weeks would be supported by an independent economic assessment, and we also have significant concerns on the absence of specific measures to ensure that the spill-over of diverted traffic into residential streets is minimised.
Although there is no formal consultation process, we have nonetheless submitted our thoughts on the proposal for consideration by councillors on the Transport & Environment Committee on Wednesday 21 March – the full submission is available here
This includes several further potential measures to minimise as far as possible the disruption caused by this closure as well as suggestions for continued review and amendments if required.
There will be a drop-in session about the proposed closure of Leith St on Thursday 16 March at 6:30 pm, at Cafe Camino
As well as the normal items, the agenda includes a presentation and Q & A on the revised hotel proposal for the former Royal High School by Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels development team – see planning application 17/00588/FUL. with representatives from Urbanist Hotels, Hoskins Architects and Sorrell Associates.
In addition, given the various news items on the proposed closure of Leith Street (between Waterloo Place and Calton Road) which is scheduled for discussion at next weeks Edinburgh Council Transport & Environment Committee, we will also be hearing from Donald Anderson (who is working with Henderson Global regarding the St James Centre) about the justification and background to the proposed closure of Leith Street for 44 weeks, starting after this year's Edinburgh Festival. More details can be found here.
The 2nd newsletter has been issued by the Edinburgh St James team which covers progress on the pre-demolition work including various modifications to enable John Lewis to trade throughout the demolition of the existing St James centre and beyond as well as utility works. In addition, preparatory work in preparation for demolition is planned over the coming months.
The John Lewis works include a new entrance on Leith Street, upgrading of the existing “prow” entrance and a new lay-by on Leith Street for John Lewis Customer Collections.
The phased removal of the central reservation barrier on Leith Street is almost complete with the introduction of a new temporary pedestrian crossing planned.
Full details of the planned works in the “quick reference guide” can be viewed here. The newsletter also includes details of the scaffolding and propping works and the installation of hoardings to the perimeter of the site in May 2016.
NTBCC has attended various sessions covering the latest proposals for the scheme, including an open meeting in October hosted by the developers of the St James Quarter and subsequently a meeting with the developers and the NTBCC Planning Sub-committee.
This is a report of a face-to-face Planning Sub-committee meeting held in February.
NTBCC is generally supportive of the redevelopment of this site but has concerns over some of the details in application 14/05263/AMC (link to Edinburgh Council's online planning portal).
NTBCC's submission is here (pdf)