Council to consult Edinburgh residents on making Spaces for People permanent
Edinburgh City Council is set to launch a city-wide consultation on which Spaces for People schemes residents may wish to keep permanently.
A report, set to go before the council’s transport committee on Thursday January 28, asks councillors to approve a new public consultation and assessment criteria, which officers and councillors will use to judge whether the temporary traffic measures should be kept post-pandemic.
A start date for the consultation, or the means of consulting, have not been published but the transport committee is expecting the results of the consultation to be presented at the committee’s meeting in April.
The assessment criteria includes asking: does the project encourage walking and/or cycling; what are the project’s impacts on businesses; and what are the project’s impacts on disabled street users?
The report reads: “Assessment considerations have been developed to determine if it would be appropriate to retain existing Spaces for People projects, or elements of them.
“In most cases retention would initially be for a limited period on an experimental basis aligned with the economic recovery, in order to monitor how the city’s transport network is used and to ensure that there is protection for active travel modes.
“This is likely to mean the use of Experimental Traffic Regulations Order (ETRO) powers as opposed to continuation of using Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) powers.
“In parallel with the assessment of projects discussed above, it is proposed to carry out a consultation exercise to seek views on the retention or adaptation of appropriate measures.
“Following the consultation and assessment, it is intended to bring an update on this to [the transport] committee in April 2021.”
Liberton and Gilmerton SNP councillor, and convener of the transport committee, Lesley Macinnes, said: “We’re continuing apace with our ambitious programme of Spaces for People measures designed to give people space to physically distance and to provide safe, protected routes for making journeys by foot, bike or wheelchair.
“We’ve had a great deal of positive feedback from people benefiting from these changes and we know from our own monitoring that many of them are having a positive impact on surrounding areas.
“That’s why we’re beginning to think about the potential for retaining some of the schemes implemented as part of Spaces for People beyond the end of the pandemic, though we know this is some way off.
“Of course, any longer-term project would involve a great deal of engagement and consultation with communities – we want to bring the people of Edinburgh along with us.
“But by focusing on an ‘experimental’ approach we would be able to continually monitor and evaluate projects, responding to residents' needs to best serve the public.”
Conservative Pentland Hills councillor Susan Webber said: “It comes as no surprise as this has been my belief from the outset that the measures presented since May under the cover of the emergency legislation, are now being presented for permanency.“From day one this has been my suspicion, and the entire process, of using the emergency legislation to initiate this project, has been duplicitous.“My other concern is the council have hardly got a record of significant consultation responses from anything other than their normal, preferred, self-selected consultees.“If they are doing an accelerated consultation for a scheme of this magnitude that will impact and cripple the city, as we come out of the lockdown - they have learned nothing from East Craigs, and they have learned nothing from Lanark Road, and they have learned nothing from Braid Road or Comiston Road.”
City Centre Labour councillor, and vice convener of the committee, Karen Doran said: “This latest update illustrates the breadth of work that’s gone into designing, reviewing and implementing these schemes.
“It’s with thanks to the Spaces for People team that we’ve been able to get so many interventions on the ground over recent months.
“Of course, we recognise that there have been concerns about some of the measures from community members, and it’s understandable with changes like these.
“We’ve made every effort to respond where possible, and continue to tweak and revise designs, as this review demonstrates.”