Edinburgh pub manager petitions to pedestrianise street to help hospitality businesses
A pub manager has launched a petition to pedestrianise a street in a bid to help boost customer numbers as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
Chris Stevenson runs Jeremiah’s Taproom in Edinburgh and is hoping to secure one or two days a week where Elm Row – the street his pub sits on – is closed to traffic.
With hospitality permitted to reopen on Monday with outdoor drinking only, the 31-year-old hopes to use the space as an outdoor seating area for customers at Jeremiah’s and other pubs and cafes in the area.
Speaking to Edinburgh Evening News, Chris said: “It’s great that pubs are allowed to reopen soon, but the restrictions allow outdoor drinking only which puts places with restricted outdoor seating at a serious disadvantage.
"We hope to just have a few days a week where hospitality businesses on this street can use the cobbled area to set up tables and chairs for outdoor service – European style.”
Chris said resident parking will still be easily accessible at either the top end of Elm Row on London Road or the bottom end.
"I have spoken to other businesses and residents in Elm Row and most seem to support the idea,” he added.
"Some businesses, including Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacy, are concerned about parking spaces being used as they are needed for customers with mobility issues and deliveries. But I believe there’s a way we can work around that by just pedestrianising Elm Row on some days, and leave it open to traffic on others, working around their delivery and collection schedule.
"It would be great if it does go ahead and maybe in the future it can be a place for market stalls for businesses in Leith.
"Leith walk is a disaster at the moment, so anything to help traders would be great.”
The petition has 80 signatures so far and will need to reach 200 before it’s considered by City of Edinburgh Council.
Anna Christopherson, who runs pub Joseph Pearce in Elm Row, said she fully supports the petition.
"Having extra outdoor seating will be a huge help to hospitality businesses in the street,” she said.
"We already have a small section, but we would love to have more after the year that we’ve had.
"With the trams being built, there will be less parking anyway down here so I think it makes sense to move to it to pedestrian only. I can just picture how vibrant it could be with people sitting and drinking outside.”
MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith Ben Macpherson said: “Just like proposals to pedestrianise The Shore, I think this petition to pedestrianise Elm Row merits careful consideration. As well as potentially creating more space for outside tables for hospitality, it could enhance the general sense of place for the benefit of all.
"However, I’m sure the Council will need to consider how pedestrianisation could impact access to homes and businesses, as well as other factors. I will follow the petition’s progress with interest.”
A council spokeswoman said: “As the petition has received 80 signatures so far it will be considered at a future meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee.”