Council criticised over revised Newhaven tram extension plans

The trams were originally meant to terminate at Ocean Terminal. Picture: TSPL
The trams were originally meant to terminate at Ocean Terminal. Picture: TSPL
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revised plans to take trams to Newhaven have been unveiled amid calls for more priority to be given to pedestrians and cyclists.

The council says it has used 8,000 pieces of feedback to form the updated proposals – but Conservatives have labelled the consultation “superficial”.

The public consultation was held over the summer, including a series of design workshops to examine key issues in greater detail.

The council’s refined plans are now set to go on public display, along with a selection of new visualisations of how trams could look on the route. The authority will take a decision in December as to whether the tram extension will go ahead.

Transport convener Cllr Lesley Macinnes said: “We’re enormously grateful to everyone who took the time to have their say on our draft proposals earlier this year.

“It was a fantastic response and it’s allowed us to ensure the refreshed designs and plans are truly community-led, reflecting the community’s needs, wants and aspirations for the project – both during and post construction.”

A new road layout has been proposed on Leith Walk between Pilrig Street and the Foot of the Walk – with what the council claims is improved provision for pedestrians and cyclists – as well as a segregated cycleway along Leith Walk.

But Green councillors, who earlier this year demanded more provision for active travel, said the proposals did not go far enough.

Green transport spokesman Cllr Chas Booth said: “I’m glad to see the design improvements which have been made to try to address community concerns, and I thank the council team for listening carefully to local people during this process.

“However, I hope and expect that further improvements to the designs will still be made, in particular in creating safer and more pleasant streets for those travelling on foot and by bicycle, which Green councillors have set as a condition for our support for the tram extension.”

As part of the update, the position of a tram stop has been moved to ensure improved access to Balfour Street.

Conservatives are demanding the council puts the proposals on hold until Lord Hardie publishes his review into the first troubled phase of the tram network.

Conservative transport spokesman Cllr Nick Cook said: “Conservatives continue to oppose the tram extension, the business case for which offers terrible value for money.

“With the multi-million public inquiry ongoing, the council should put the brakes on this project – including its superficial consultation – until the findings are clear.”

Three public drop-in events have been organised to share the updated plans: an exhibition on Tuesday 2 October 2-7pm at Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street, followed by two events on Saturday 13 October from 12-5pm at Ocean Terminal and on Monday 22 October from 2-7pm at McDonald Road Library.

Andy Keba, Sustrans Scotland’s head of strategic partnerships, said: “Linking the community of Leith to the city centre for people travelling on foot or by bike has been a long held ambition for local people.

“Having taken part in a very constructive consultation process over the summer,  Sustrans Scotland are pleased to see this ambition realised in the latest designs for the tram.

“We welcome the inclusion of wide pavements and segregated cycleways along the length of Leith Walk. We hope this is will make it easier and safer for more people to travel by foot and bike between the city centre and Leith.”