Plan makes city more pedestrian and cycle-friendly

Pedestrians enjoy browsing food stalls in the Grassmarket. Picture: Toby Williams

Pedestrians enjoy browsing food stalls in the Grassmarket. Picture: Toby Williams

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A DOCUMENT which will steer all future development towards pedestrian power and cycling has been unveiled by planning chiefs.

The blueprint aims to redress the balance from car-clogged streetscapes to “shared spaces” and will propel the needs of people to the forefront of planning guidelines.

Considered a “key design framework” for planning and transport departments, the “Edinburgh Street Design Guidance” papers will seek to ensure future developments are geared towards pedestrians.

As such, streets could see pavements widened with new street furniture introduced to populated areas in a bid to enhance its character.

According to the council it aims to reverse a “less co-ordinated approach” to design that had been prevalent in the planning guidelines and adopt a “joined-up” and “holisitic” stance to produce flowing city districts.

Planners point to the revamped Forest Road, near Bristo Square, with its tree-lined streets, extended walkways and reduced traffic as an example of what the paper is trying to achieve. They have also highlighted new shared spaces in Craigmillar.

However some motorists fear the dossier could marginalise their needs. Cllr Ian Perry, convenor of the planning committee, said the greatest impact from the new street design guide would be “less space for cars and more for pedestrians and cyclists”.

“They will be the priority when we are planning streets,” he said. “Obviously new developments make it very easy to introduce these new principles but, with existing streets, we are much more limited in what we can do.

“We don’t want to stop motorists altogether, this is not an anti-motorist thing, this is about priority. We still realise that motor vehicles have to get around the town but this is about changing the dynamic.”

Planners say areas would be considered on a “street-by-street” basis.

John Inman, head of local plans, said all streets would also be classified by ranking of “importance as a link”.

He said: “Not every road is going to be the same, and every road will be treated differently, but we have a framework now. We will look at each road and look at what the special characteristics are and what it is meant to do for the city. It might need better pedestrian crossings or more space to let buses pass quickly.”

Taxi driver Mark Richard, 44, of Polwarth, would prefer more parking spaces to “poorly thought out street art”. He said: “People like me pay their taxes for useful stuff – like being able to park near home – not nice street benches.”