Royal Mile: Traffic ban for parts of famous street

The section between St Mary's Street and Niddry Street will become car-free. Picture: Esme Allen
The section between St Mary's Street and Niddry Street will become car-free. Picture: Esme Allen
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A BLANKET ban on cars using key stretches of the Royal Mile is set to be introduced after Christmas in a move to boost the fortunes of Edinburgh’s most iconic thoroughfare.

Building on the success of the semi-pedestrianised section near City Chambers, planning chiefs are set to introduce traffic calming measures outside Canongate Kirk and create a no-car zone between Niddry Street and St Mary’s Street, though access would be allowed between 6.30 and 10.30am.

Pavements at Lawnmarket would be widened encouraging bars and restaurants to spill out onto the cobbled street but traffic would not be prevented from turning onto the section.

The road at Canongate Kirk will be raised – in a “shared space” philosophy – to the height of the kerb in a bid to create a more pedestrian-friendly district.

An action plan appendixed to a report by Mark Turley, director of services for communities, states the ambitious intention to make Royal Mile the “world’s best cultural living street”.

Mr Turley writes: “In 
addition to the strong support for the proposed traffic calming measures at the Canongate Kirk, there was a widely held view that the measures should be extended up as far as the St Mary Street junction. The action has been expanded to assess the potential for a second phase of traffic 
calming.”

He added that there was “universal acknowledgement” that the issue of trade waste – which is collected privately – had to “be tackled” with the imposition of “stricter” controls and new proposals expected to be brought for discussion by the end of the year.

City planning chief, Cllr Ian Perry, said the new traffic blueprints were designed to revitalise Royal Mile and in particular the stretch beyond the old city boundary past the World’s End pub.

He said: “We want to make it a more attractive place to visit and to live. By increasing the pedestrian space you increase footfall and the profitability of the businesses.

“If you look at the bottom of High Street there’s shops empty there and that’s because visitors and locals often stop when they get past South Bridge. We want them to go all the way down.

“At the moment the Royal Mile is seen as two place: one from World’s End where the old boundary wall was, and further down is the new bit and we want it to look the same all the way up and down.”

Around a million people go to Edinburgh Castle each year and about a third make their way down to Holyrood, but there have been concerns that large volumes of traffic at areas such as South Bridge are making the area less attractive for visitors.

It is hoped the changes will make the entire area more inviting and help boost local businesses.

A Royal Mile Charter is to be drawn up with businesses to tackle graffiti, trade waste and the display of goods outside shops. A series of Spring Cleans have been held to clear graffiti and tidy up the 
street.

A Royal Mile manager has also been appointed and helped create a Royal Mile Business Association.