Councillors to discuss ‘pedestrian-friendly’ Picardy Place plans
A new landscaped public space would be created in Edinburgh’s east end under revised plans going before councillors next week. The latest plans for the Picardy Place junction, produced following an extended period of consultation, will be considered at a special meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday.
Feedback from around 1,000 responses demonstrated a strong desire for improved public realm in the area, which has been reflected in proposals for the island site, as well as plans to further increase pedestrian space outside St Mary’s RC Cathedral and at the foot of Little King Street.
Calls for further improvements to provision for pedestrians and cyclists also featured heavily and have been incorporated into the designs as far as possible.
The latest revisions, which are in addition to changes already made to the design following previous stakeholder engagement, include:
- Transformation of the island site into public realm
- Further increasing the quality of public space, particularly in front of St Mary’s RC Cathedral
- Provision for funerals and weddings and the increase in disabled parking for St Mary’s RC Cathedral
- Fully segregated cycling lanes, including through crossing areas, between York Place, Leith Walk, Leith Street and Little King Street
- Improved cycle connections to and from Broughton Street
- Pedestrian crossing outside the Playhouse
- The introduction of a taxi rank outside the Omni Centre
All changes reflect the agreed principles of improving the city’s public realm and ensuring public transport works effectively while allowing sufficient flexibility to examine further improvements in future.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “I believe this design addresses many of the concerns that have been raised and gives a balanced solution to competing demands from residents, businesses and stakeholders.
“What we’re seeking to achieve – and which I believe we’ve managed to do successfully here – is to make the area much more pedestrian and cycling friendly while also ensuring this key junction operates efficiently for our public transport network.
“We need it to be an attractive and well-functioning gateway to Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns World Heritage Site and one which gets the balance right for all road users, whether they’re on foot, cycling or using public transport.
“Creating a new public space in the island site and reimagining the space outside the Cathedral will breathe new life into the whole area, making it much more pleasant to spend time in or travel through.”
Nigel Serafini, Commercial Director of Lothian Buses, said: “Every day we have over 2,000 bus journeys travelling through the Picardy Place junction, which equates to in excess of 100,000 customer movements. This is a significant share of our total daily customer movement.
“Picardy Place is a critical interchange point not only for bus but for other modes of transport catering for traffic from the North and East of the city into the centre. We welcome the work that the City of Edinburgh is doing in order to develop the area, building transportation and travel of all types into place and planning design, in order to futureproof this area, whilst vastly improving the public space.”
If approved by the Transport and Environment Committee next week, the plans will be referred to Full Council on 1 February.