Broughton St. (& South Bridge) : Deputation to CEC Transport & Environment Committee 12 November 2020

Item 7.6 ‘Spaces for People Update ‘

The New Town and Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) welcomes the decision to shortlist Broughton Street for inclusion in the next phase of the Spaces for People initiative.

Broughton Street plays a key role in the neighbourhood as a retail and hospitality venue, as well as an important thoroughfare for this part of Edinburgh. We have concerns, however, that the focus of the changes outlined in the update being considered today does not address the key issues identified in the comments submitted on the Commonplace tool or indeed the issues that have been highlighted by the community. We therefore urge that before any definite plans are developed for this area that there should be further direct engagement between the Spaces for People team and various local interest groups including businesses on Broughton Street. The NTBCC is very willing to participate in, and facilitate these discussions, with the community.

As you will  you will note from our analysis of the comments on the Commonplace consultation map, it is apparent that the greatest concern is pedestrian safety in terms of the opportunity for social distancing on the pavements, the extent of pavement clutter and the speed of traffic. We believe that these issues should be prioritised in any work planned for Broughton Street. In particular, we believe that adding a further controlled pedestrian crossing part way down Broughton Street would not only improve the safety of pedestrians crossing the road but also help in reducing the speed of traffic,
especially that heading downhill from Picardy Place. We note the concerns raised regarding cycling safety but believe that there are better solutions than that proposed to install a segregated cycle lane uphill along the full length of Broughton Street. These alternatives need to be explored further with the local community and in particular those local interest groups representing cyclists.

As a result of the ongoing road works in the area including those for the tram extension, we recognise that the options for Broughton Street are limited in the short term that the Spaces for People initiatives are intended to address. As a result of road closures and diversions, Broughton Street is already taking more traffic than normal, resulting in additional congestion and thus atmospheric pollution. Keeping traffic moving must be one of the goals of any improvements implemented on Broughton Street. This will require a careful review of the use of the existing road space including the number of parking and loading bays especially at the top end of Broughton Street as it emerges into Picardy Place. Any review must also take account of the needs of those people with limited mobility using local shops and cafes in the area, as well as those businesses, but also be supported by effective enforcement of parking and monitoring of pollution levels.

We urge the Committee to support the decision to include Broughton Street in the short list of the next Spaces for People initiatives, but also to require that the Spaces for People team do engage further with the local community, including NTBCC, before any more detailed proposals are issued for consultation or approval.

South Bridge
NTBCC notes that the Committee is being asked to approve changes to South Bridge, which  include some largely unspecified changes to North Bridge. The proposed changes on North Bridge have not been subject to any consultation with the local community. We have previously raised significant concerns about any closure of North Bridge in terms of its effect on congestion, rerouting of traffic on to alternative routes and consequent additional pollution.

We urge the Committee to defer any decision on South Bridge until the impact on North Bridge and adjoining streets can be properly assessed and the views of local residents considered.