David Welch: Time to revisit George Street plans

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As anger mounts among traders about the proposed George Street traffic revamp, David Welch is calling for the plans to be revisited

My main concern is Edinburgh City Council must carry out a full and proper consultation with the traders on George Street. From the George Hotel’s perspective, we must ensure that we maintain vehicular access to the front of the hotel. The current proposal doesn’t allow for that. We need to ensure we maintain that otherwise it would be very bad news for the hotel if we didn’t have access for, say, a wedding car, or for a coach party drop-off.

I believe there is a proposal to put the buses back on to George Street. We’re aware that at the peak time this amounts to as many as 500 an hour. Based on when the council did it last time, the pollution levels were very bad on the street because the street is like a funnel as opposed to Princes Street or even Queen Street where you have an open side to the street.

We had a lot of pollution coming into the hotel, a lot of dirt and customers complaining about the air quality. I think it’s directly in conflict with the desire to develop a cafe society if you’ve got 500 buses an hour going past you.

The increased buses causes quite a lot of vibration problems in the hotel. A lot of the properties on George Street are 18th century and the increase in buses will have a detrimental effect on our buildings.

We would not want to see a complete change to traffic on both sides of the street. They are proposing a double cycle route on George Street. My question is what happens when you come off George Street. Where does the cycle route go then? You’re not going to spend the day going up and down George Street on your bike.

With the loss of parking, people still expect to use their cars so I would be interested to know what their proposals are in terms of where people then park.

I think the street has to develop, but I’m not sure this is the answer. Essential Edinburgh have other proposals that need properly aired. The suggestions to develop the street into entertainment zones, reduce the traffic flow and take the buses off George Street seem to make a lot of sense.

• David Welch is general manager at the George Hotel