Cash boost to help reclaim Causey for pedestrians

Traffic calming measures would discourage drivers from using The Causey. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Traffic calming measures would discourage drivers from using The Causey. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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BOLD plans to reclaim a historic square for pedestrians have been given a £30,000 cash boost.

The Causey, which connects Chapel Street and West Crosscauseway in the Southside, is currently used by drivers as a quick link with Nicolson Street.

But the Causey Development Trust (CDT) is working to transform the area – which dates back to the 16th century and is now recognisable by the 56 North pub and a large traffic island – into an permanent “urban oasis”.

Included in the plans is the introduction of traffic-calming measures designed 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 the SIX CITIES Design Festival in 2007.

West Crosscauseway was grassed over for three days during the award-winning event. Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, which provided the £30,000, said: “We are delighted to be able to support The Causey project in improving the public realm, at a key point on the southern boundary of the World Heritage Site.

“In 2007, with a bit of leftfield thinking and a dollop of good humour, The Causey demonstrated how the area could be transformed by re-designing it for people rather than cars, and it is fantastic to think we will now be able to see some of those ideas come to fruition.

“We know from our own projects over the years that both the local community and the city as whole benefit from innovative approaches such as this, encouraging people to linger, enjoy and appreciate their historic city.”

David Wood, chair of the CDT, said: “We’re really excited to arrive at a key moment in the journey to permanently transform The Causey into a vibrant public space for people.”

The EWH grant will help develop the design up to the stage of tendering the project, and also with some of the initial work. Public art emerged as a top priority from a public consultation and will be part of the final design. Artist Del Whitticase was appointed to run workshops for local residents, and the ideas generated will help inform the design team.

The city and CDT has appointed a team led by landscape gardeners Ironside Farrar to develop a final design for The Causey, which is expected to be completed by 2015.

Ideas for the space might see it used as a market, a meeting place, for temporary events and even for Fringe performances. A water feature and lighting are among the ideas also being considered.

Groups including Sustrans Scotland, Edinburgh University and the Mickel Fund have also provided funding for the project, which will cost up to £900,000.

The CDT is a local community organisation led by a steering group of volunteers, that grew out of the temporary 2007 event.

THE PLANS

PAVING would be changed to define it as a pedestrian zone, and the area’s historical triangular shape re-introduced.

Walls and railings would be removed from outside the churches to bring them into the civic space. Paving would be extended onto 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.”

Traffic would be stopped from coming into West Crosscauseway.