Edinburgh roads: 'Radical changes' on way for Portobello High Street and Brighton Place

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Residents in Portobello have been told "radical changes" are on the way as part of the 20-minute neighbourhood project for the area. 

The news came as councillors approved the permanent closure of Brunstane Road, despite 600 objections. Campaigners said the controversial decision, which follows a trial closure of the road since 2022, meant the council was ignoring the views of the majority of local people.

Residents say the Brunstane Road closure has caused traffic congestion in Brighton Place and Southfield Place.Residents say the Brunstane Road closure has caused traffic congestion in Brighton Place and Southfield Place.
Residents say the Brunstane Road closure has caused traffic congestion in Brighton Place and Southfield Place. | Supplied

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They claim the closure has caused a huge increase in traffic on other roads nearby, including Coillesdene Avenue and Brighton Place. 

And Diana Cairns, chair of the Brightons and Rosefield Association, said:"From a democratic point of view it's not a good look when 70 per cent of people have objected to something and they get their views completely over-ridden." 

At a meeting of the licensing sub-committee, Cliff Hutt, the council's head of roads and infrastructure, acknowledged there had been a 400 per cent increase in traffic in Coillesdene Avenue, but claimed it was still an "extremely quiet" street.

He said the trial closure of Brunstane Road had been "extremely successful" and promised there would be traffic calming measures, including speed bumps, in Coillesdene Avenue to deter through traffic.

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But asked about speed bumps for Brighton Place, he said that was not planned at the moment. He said: "Brighton Place is going to be part of the 20-minute neighbourhood and town centre proposals, so coming forward there's going to be much more radical changes to the High Street in Portobello, including Brighton Place."

He said the proposals were still evolving but revealed potential restrictions on through traffic. "There are numerous things being looked at internally just now. One of the things that has been discussed - and this is not on tablets of stone, but one of the things is to make Brighton Place into a bus gate." 

Ms Cairns said the news about a bus gate - a way of excluding general traffic - had come as a surprise.  "Nobody has told us about this and we're left in the dark.  I've been at the meetings they held with community representatives and none of this has been mentioned. 

“I find that a bit bizarre. I suspect it's the usual council trick where they develop proposals behind the scenes and then spring them on you at the last minute when they're fully formed."

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Mr Hutt was asked how the Brunstane Road closure helped towards the council’s 2030 net zero target. He said: “What we’re trying to do is we’re not supporting the private car here,  we’re trying to make it more difficult to move around the Coillesdene area and the Brunstane Road area by private car and trying to get them switch to more sustainable modes of transport.”

But he was challenged by sub-committee convener Joanna Mowat. She said: “We have now this policy, which you’ve very explicitly said is about anti-car, not supporting private car, making it more difficult to move around and moving traffic off residential streets and onto arterial streets.”

And she asked him to detail what council policies supported that and when they were introduced. She said: “I don’t think we’ve talked as explicitly in that way until fairly recently.”

He said it was “all within the City Mobility Plan” approved around 2021. Cllr Mowat said she was not sure she could find any reference to moving cars off residential streets in the policy. Mr Hutt said: “It’s implied, it’s maybe not explicit in the policy but if you look at the City Mobility Plan it’s all about creating places and giving streets back to the residents. That’s what the whole thrust of the policy is about.”

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