Update on George Street, Picardy Place and St Andrew Square

An update on George Street, Picardy Place & St Andrew Square from Iain MacPhail, City Centre Programme Manager at City of Edinburgh Council. Contact details : iain.macphail@edinburgh.gov.uk 

George Street

Summary : year-long trial began on 8 Sept 2014, introduction of a 2 way cycle facility & additional pedestrian space, and a one way system for vehicular traffic.

Trial: Run on an “ETRO” basis, changes can be made during the year in response to driver behaviour or issues that arise. 4 examples of changes being made: bollards, taxi rank, Young St. & animation

Research : CEC has commissioned an external agency to undertake 1200 on-street interviews seeking feedback and satisfaction levels on a range of aspects. The research is fed back quarterly to stakeholders and has been positive to date. Selected responses from on-street interviews:

Note - These responses relate to the look of George Street post-Festival, as during the Festival it is recognised that the street was cluttered with a variety of inconsistent & unattractive pop up events, which was not part of the Council’s project that commenced on 8-9-14. Responses here are from the post-Festival period, from the first 100 respondees – that number is too small to yet be conclusive, so please note these are considered only initial and interim figures for information only.

  • 90% consider George Street is more attractive since the Council’s changes were implemented, and the Festival had departed.
  • 79% think changes have provided an improved pedestrian experience
  • 78% think the changes encourage people to spend more time in George Street
  • 76% think the changes encourage people to walk more
  • Only 8% of responses reported that they drove into the city and parked in George Street itself. All other shoppers and diners either came in by different means of transport or drove but parked in St James Centre, Charlotte Square, Castle Terrace or elsewhere.
  • The number of car parking spaces has only been reduced by 9% in the street (now that the Festival has departed) and only 1% of respondents raised car parking as an issue
  • 53% of respondents think it’s important for some car parking to remain available on George Street (20% unimportant, 27% don’t know)
  • 76% said they felt the changes had made their day more enjoyable, 22% said it made no difference to them, only 2% said less enjoyable.
  • People travel to George Street on foot (23%) by train (19%) bicycle (13%) and car (17%)
  • The most common reasons for going to George Street were dining (29%) browsing/window shopping (29%), shopping (22%), meeting friends/family (21%), drinking (19%) and most respondents gave multiple reasons.
  • 34% said they would spend 1-3 hours on George Street, the most commonly reported ‘duration of stay’

The next quarterly stakeholder meetings will be on 16-12-14,   24/3/15,   23/6/15  &   8/9/15

A minimum of 10% of respondees will be New Town residents (stipulated in the research contract). Quarterly updates are being gathered on traffic numbers (to track any traffic displacement) on the following streets: Heriot Row, Albany St, Drummond Pl, Great King St, Hamilton Place & Geo/Queen

Picardy Place

Summary – a short life exploratory design & working group has been formed, chaired by me.

This group emerged from three closely related major projects, the Leith Walk Programme, Edinburgh Trams (moving towards extending the Tram to Leith) and a Picardy Place Working Group (related to the development of Edinburgh St James) which spent September 2014 producing an indicative development site kerb line and examining the linkages between all of the various city centre programmes : George Street, St Andrew Square, Register Lanes, York Place, Edinburgh St James, Picardy Place, London Road junction & then towards the Leith Programme.

This group has met weekly and my key aim (as chair & facilitator) has been to ensure that technical and design options are not being explored in isolation – each programme needs to knit successfully to its neighbouring area. Exploring design options (with all programmes represented) has brought all these groups together, with the design optioning process getting underway in earnest now, October.

The group has included SusTrans, CEC transport & planning officials, CEC neighbourhood officials, CEC Estates dept, Edinburgh Trams, Henderson Global (represented by their project managers & transport planners), plus architects, transport designers and urban designers.

I have been happy to forward all minutes directly to the chair of NTBCC and will continue to do so, and I am happy to present a candid update to the Community Council on a monthly ongoing basis.

Any options which are produced from this group will become subject to a public consultation.

St Andrew Square

Summary – at the previous meeting of NTBCC the community council received a presentation from developers currently in the process of demolishing and reconstructing the south side of St Andrew Square. Part of their presentation had included an outline proposal for an expanded pavement on the south side of the square. The developers informed the NTBCC meeting they intended to take this proposal to the Council but had not formally done so.

Following the NTBCC meeting, I invited the developers to a meeting, including an array of designers & stakeholders from St Andrew Square, similar to the Picardy Place exercise outlined above.

This is an exploratory design group looking at completing the paving and public realm around the square. Works have been completed on the east side of the square (along the tram line). We will programme the works on the north, west and south sides over the next 2 years, taking into account wider city centre traffic management impact of undertaking each leg & dovetailing with existing development delivery schedules. No settled view has emerged yet on the developer’s proposals.

Any options which are produced from this group will also become subject to a public consultation.