Tarmac is flowering in Picardy Place - Susan Morrison

Picardy Place. It's a slightly sad bit of the city. It's like they really never knew what to do with it once they had flattened everything and slapped in a huge roundabout. It was in readiness for a motorway that never happened, a fact for which we should all be grateful.

The Buchanan plan in the early 1960s was a pretty ambitious scheme to punch a motorway right through the city. Had it gone ahead, we would have had six lanes of tarmac, a couple of flyovers and a tunnel under the Old Town, with a bit of Edinburgh clinging to the verges.

Well, who needs nice views, homes for people and a pond in Inverleith park, when you can whizz door-to-door in your Ford Cortina?

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Fortunately, some people got in the way and Edinburgh was spared Glasgow’s fate, where huge swathes of the city vanished before the earthmovers and the wrecking balls to create the M8.

The whole plan was stopped, but Picardy Place was marooned, just a big empty roundabout. They used to put stuff in it, to make it interesting, I guess.

At one point there was a strange ‘kinetic’ sculpture up there. Big metal arms. I believe it was supposed to move and light up, but I don’t recall seeing it ever do anything but look like some sort of massive coat hanger. It looked particularly miserable in the rain.

One day it just disappeared.

Then in the 90s it just became a blank beige circle, like a sort of mini-desert. There were some trees for a while, I think. Recently it turned into a construction camp for the trams. That seemed to last forever.

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Now they have cleared away and a new life has started for the roundabout nobody wanted. Sherlock Holmes has suddenly reappeared.

There’s a bit of landscaping going on. Those low shiny granite walls have been put in, like the ones around the Paolozzi sculptures across the road, so beloved of the city’s outdoor drinkers.

Doubtless in the summer it will look lovely, but I still wonder what happened to the wonky sculpture.