BOLD plans to transform the Causey into an “urban oasis” have now taken a huge step forward thanks to a £300,000 cash boost.
The project to reclaim the square for pedestrians is a third of the way towards its £1.6 million target, with work set to begin within 12 months.
An artist’s impression shows a sunlit space full of kite-flyers, dancers and dog-walkers while a night-time scene sees West Crosscauseway apparently transformed into the Capital’s answer to Ashton Lane, famous as one of Glasgow’s trendiest areas.
The Causey Development Trust (CDT) will introduce traffic-calming measures to “discourage drivers” – though cars would not be banned outright.
The move follows the creation of a temporary tropical island, complete with palm tree-shaped road signs, as part of a 2007 festival when West Crosscauseway was grassed over for three days.
The area has become a notorious city rat-run dominated by an eyesore traffic island.
The latest funding has come from Sustrans Community Links programme but the project has had backing from Edinburgh World Heritage, the city council, Edinburgh University and Central Scotland Green Network.
The Trust’s mission is to transform a “neglected” and “car-dominated” square into a “people-friendly place” celebrating the spirit of the Southside.
It aims to create a landmark community space, enhance the approach to the university and make cycling and walking safer.
Daisy Narayanan, Sustrans Scotland deputy director, said she was “delighted” to be supporting a project that “put people first”.
She said: “The Causey will be transformed from a traffic-dominated space into a safe, attractive place for people on foot and bike.”
Edinburgh World Heritage chairman Willy Roe, who first came to the area as a student, said: “We were hugely impressed by the people involved and their ideas and know that it will succeed. Edinburgh got its life back through the power of community organisations and these plans mean the Causey will become one of the key congregating spaces in the city.
“It’s a perfect way to connect the university and the city and to make history come alive in one of the oldest streets in Edinburgh.
“We know it will be done with such love, affection, care and attention and will become a space for people of all ages.”
Ideas for the space might see it used as a market, a meeting place, for temporary events and Fringe performances.
A water feature and lighting are among the ideas also being considered.
Paving would be changed to define it as a pedestrian zone, and the area’s historical triangular shape reintroduced.
Walls and railings would be removed from outside the churches to bring them into the civic space. Paving would be extended on to church land and also into Quarry Place.
Buccleuch Street would remain open to traffic but at the Causey the paved surface will be raised, making drivers aware they are in a “people space.” Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds pledged that the city would continue to work with the Trust on the transformation which she said would bring “considerable benefits”.