Green bridge vision to put Leith back on the right track

An artist's impression of the bridge, made from disused railway lines, proposed for Leith Walk
An artist's impression of the bridge, made from disused railway lines, proposed for Leith Walk
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A NEW “green bridge” over a troubled roadway is among ideas put forward as part of a bold new vision for Leith Walk.

The proposed link – which would include walkways and community-run gardens – would connect Pilrig Park to Leith Links in a bid to regenerate the area which has seen so much disruption from tram works, only to be left out of the curtailed scheme.

A £3.2 million fund to restore Leith Walk and the waterfront after they were dropped from the tram project could help pay for the bridge.

Councillors have backed the idea, which is to be taken forward along with plans to create new public squares, a dedicated cycle lane and install new works of art.

Local residents, businesses and a group of architectural students aired a whole variety of suggestions on how to improve the area at a public meeting organised by local groups Greener Leith and Leith Open Space to discuss the future of Leith Walk.

Other issues raised included the need to revitalise gap sites, improve public transport, make sure bus stops are in the right locations, declutter the road of redundant signs and agree better positioning of litter bins.

There was also a suggestion for a register of shops and more flexible planning rules to allow empty units to be used for ”pop up” shops.

Leith Labour councillor Gordon Munro said: “It was very good meeting, very positive, with lots of interesting and exciting ideas for Leith Walk.

“And I think it is quite telling that all the elected members for Leith and Leith Walk were there. It says there is strong cross-party support for improvements to Leith Walk and the idea that something needs to be done to make up for the impact of the tram works have had on Leith Walk, not just on businesses but local residents.”

He said people wanted more than just returning Leith Walk to what it was before the tramworks.

Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, said it had been an inspiring evening. “It was really refreshing to have lots of local people getting involved and coming out with ideas.”

Fay Young, co-ordinator of Leith Open Space, said the community had been told there was money to resurface roads and possibly bringing trees back, but they had wanted a more exciting vision. She said: “We were trying to encourage people to think more boldly.

“It will take time, energy and commitment to make sure some of these things happen, but I feel that energy and will is there.”

Greener Leith now plans to use its website to consult people who could not be at the meeting on the ideas.

And Leith Community council will have a stall at Leith Festival on Saturday to allow people to comment on the plans.