Broughton Street Improvements – Proposal for Input into the ‘Spaces for People’ process

The New Town & Broughton Community Council is aware of the many comments submitted through the Spaces for People ‘Commonplace’ interactive tool in respect to improvements on Broughton Street and is supportive of any measures that would make Broughton Street safer for pedestrians and support local businesses.

Now that proposals for many of the designated ‘town centres’ and some other streets have been brought forward by Edinburgh Council, NTBCC  urge the Council to look further ahead and prioritise proposals for Broughton Street as soon as possible and take the opportunity to develop the street as a destination rather than as a thoroughfare.

We note the original proposal by Mark Lazarowicz on social media and his amended proposal which can be viewed here (email response to  NTBCC after seeing the draft minutes posted for the June NTBCC meeting). Mark’s proposals have been a welcome stimulus to debate. NTBCC’s initial view is that there is insufficient space to expand pavements on both sides, as well as retain two lanes of traffic and the required number of loading bays to support the many local, independent businesses - as well as create a proposed segregated cycle lane. In our view, this would result in a cluttered appearance, and encourage vehicles and (northbound) cycles to speed within their segregated spaces.

NTBCC’s current view is that -

  • Traffic should be reduced to two lanes (except at the junction with Picardy Place heading south)
  • Cycles should be encouraged to use the much safer Dublin Street, which also provides a direct link with the North St Andrew Street cycle lane and is the designated NCN 75 route. This would have the added advantage of encouraging cycles to avoid, where possible, the Picardy gyratory. Implementation of the long-awaited crossing at the junction of London Street and Drummond Place should be expedited to further improve this.
  • ‘Dwelling’ should be encouraged in the expanded footway, to attract trade for local business and improve the ambience for pedestrians in what is one of Edinburgh’s most attractive and characterful streets.
  • Pavements should be extended along much of the street on both sides, removing the 13 Pay & Display spaces (retaining an appropriate number of Blue Badge spaces) and, following consultation with local businesses, remove some of the loading bays (from the current 13 on Broughton Street)  to, for example, 4 on the east and 3 on the west sides. Another option would be to consider time windows for deliveries – similar to proposals elsewhere.
  • The pavement could be wider on the eastern, sunnier side to encourage “dwelling” (following a principle employed in the plans for George Street). Extension of the footway should if possible avoid plastic ‘wands’, which are obtrusive and unsightly and can be hazardous when moved out of position by vehicles or high winds.
  • In the longer term, low bollards as deployed on George IV Bridge should be used to prevent vehicles encroaching on pavements. We recommend that all bus stops be retained.
  • The street suffers from speeding traffic and the roadway should be made safe for cycling with physical traffic calming measures in both directions to enforce the 20mph limit. The main enemy of cycling in Edinburgh is speeding traffic.

NTBCC believe these proposals are consistent with the weight of opinion expressed on the Spaces for People ‘Commonplace’ tool for Broughton St. We believe that there should of course be further consultation and discussion with residents and local businesses, preferably by the SfP team. However, given the concerns expressed by some regarding the consultation process, NTBCC will also try to gauge the views of local businesses as well as input from residents’ associations.

Mitigation

With Leith Walk (and perhaps Leith Street as well) to be inaccessible from Broughton Street much traffic from the north-west city centre (Canomills/Bonnington) will seek alternative routes. We ask the Council to take mitigating measures to ensure that appropriate alternative routes are identified, appropriate and signed.

Wider traffic reduction 

As stressed in our responses to the Mobility and City Plans, measures to reduce the number of private car journeys in the central area – already the case in most historical European cities - should be urgently fast-tracked. Parking capacity throughout the Conservation Area should be reduced, perhaps coincident with the Edinburgh St James’ Centre parking becoming available. Many of the  measures proposed in the City Mobility Plan to reduce traffic in the city should be brought forward at the earliest opportunity.