Traders slate Leith Walk plans

Traders have slammed the redevelopment. Picture; Jon Savage

Traders have slammed the redevelopment. Picture; Jon Savage

TRADERS on Elm Row have warned they may be forced out of business after the council revealed plans to relocate loading bays on Leith Walk.

Businesses said a proposed new layout for the thoroughfare will force them to walk at least 100 metres down the road to pick up and bring back delivered stock.

But at peak times, there will be no loading facilities at all.

The latest plans come as part of a wider programme of improvement works aimed at revamping the top of Leith Walk. These include the provision of new cycle lanes.

James Welby, owner of Tattie Shaws, a popular speciality grocer located on the street, said that the revamp could be the “final nail in the coffin” for his business.

He said: “I can’t be expected to lug a tonne and a half of fruit and vegetables 100 metres everyday to get back to my shop. It could end my business. It’s just a nightmare.

“I run the shop myself and I need to make sure things run smoothly – I don’t have time to be walking that far down the street.”

Under the Leith Programme, the city council has put forward plans for segregated cycle lanes in both directions along Leith Walk, as well as alterations to parking and loading areas.

Jennifer Shaw, the owner of Garlands Florist on Elm Row, has also expressed concern and anger over the impact of the planned changes.

She said: “We were shocked when we received the letter informing us about the plans.

“It means will have no loading facilities at all between the hours of 7.30am and 9.30am. That’s when all of our deliveries come in.

“We are really angry and feel as though no consideration has been given to our business. We make flower arrangements for funerals among other functions, and we will have to carry them a fair distance before even getting them into the car.”

Traders and community representatives have until October 23 to raise concerns with the council.

Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said he hoped the council would take note of any objections and described Leith Walk as “a fantastic place” to locate a firm.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport leader, has insisted that the council recognises the “importance of loading and parking facilities” for local traders.

She said: “Plans to transform Leith Walk under the ongoing Leith Programme scheme have been developed in close consultation with the local community. We recognise the importance of loading and parking facilities to businesses and residents and in drawing up plans for this stage, we’ve proposed an increase in loading spaces from eight to 27 along this section of Leith Walk. Three new loading spaces are also proposed for Annandale Street. The plans include a layout to make the junction with Montgomery Street and Annandale Street easier and safer for all users, but especially those on foot.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk