We get Spaces for People, but not for trees - Kevin Buckle

One thing I did not expect from Edinburgh Council was a resistance to having more street trees in the city centre.

By Kevin Buckle
Saturday, 28th August 2021, 7:00 am
The plans for George Street do not feature a substantial amount of greenery
The plans for George Street do not feature a substantial amount of greenery

Again and again there has been widespread support for more substantial greenery in the plans for George Street but nothing more than a few planters ever seem to appear.

What is more, word on the street is that it is heritage groups and in particular Edinburgh World Heritage that is behind this removal of street trees from the plans and while EWH are well known for the distaste for hotels I never really took them for tree haters.

Also given how vocal heritage groups normally are it is very surprising that there has been no public statements from these groups explaining exactly what their issue is with street trees.

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My main concern of course has always been that not enough is being done to address the number of empty shops so I had never really given it too much thought but what it does show again is that while the council is very good at asking people’s opinion it is not so good at actually actioning what people want – always thinking they know better, it would appear.

It was no great surprise this week to hear that Unesco, who are in charge of such things, had said claims from heritage bodies that the Disneyfication of Edinburgh and its overflowing festivals would threaten its heritage status were unfounded.

This of course is standard procedure for heritage groups when trying to get their own way and in this particular case I wouldn’t disagree that things have gone too far on both issues but using an imagined threat to Edinburgh’s heritage status is not the way to go about it.

Meanwhile after my comments about Edinburgh’s views, be it of Calton Hill or Princes Sreet ,several of my friends and customers in the Haymarket area fear they may never see the Pentlands again.

Even those who took a close interest have been taken aback at the sheer size of the development as Haymarket Square takes shape and while some may worry they they will never see the Pentlands again others are more concerned they may never see the sun again!

I haven’t paid close enough attention to comment on the works as such but one thing that seemingly is widespread is that in this post-Covid world developers are just ploughing on with their offices and retail units often with an obligatory hotel without any heed to the changing landscape for these things.

It certainly has to be hoped that this scale of building has not set a precedent for other nearby sites.

While there may not be much left that can be tweaked with the Haymrket development there is no reason why street trees can not be brought back into the plans for George Street and if not then the least the many folk who would like to see the trees deserve is a full explanation.