Trams to Newhaven project sees residents in Constitution Street 'effectively marooned'
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They said that the new tram route, which has seen the removal of bus stops and banned vehicular access on sections of the road, is forcing residents with mobility issues to walk 350 metres to reach public transport. Residents stated that it has also brought in nuisance lighting and they now fear that noise reverberation will impact on their wellbeing in what is one of the narrowest sections of the Newhaven link with the closest proximity to housing.
In addition to the new design leaving residents ‘housebound’, they added that a promise was made by members of the tram team in November 2019 to reinstate buses and vehicular access. In a letter to the council one resident wrote: “Prior to the extended tram route to Newhaven, we benefited greatly from the bus stop that was practically on our doorstep and we could be picked up outside our front door by taxi, car and, where necessary, wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“Now we have to walk more than 100m to the nearest drop off point and up to 350m to the nearest bus stop. Things will barely improve with the extended tram route as the nearest tram stop at the Foot of the Walk is 200m away. For many of us, these distances are simply impossible.
They added: “I do not want to be housebound but I am afraid that is exactly what will happen to me and many of my fellow residents unless there is some relaxation of the rules.”
A spokesperson for Leith Links Community Council said original plans for the street design included a ‘shared pavement space’ that would allow residents to be dropped off at their door and added that landlords of the premises, Harbour Homes, has a responsibility to protect the interests of their tenants.
They said: “133 Constitution Street was designed for elderly residents with mobility issues to live independently within the community while still having access to public transport links to allow them have an active life.
“Harbour Homes have had many years to lobby and work with the tram team to get this sorted. It can still be fixed. A yellow hatched box on the pavement outside 133 with signage would allow taxi, minibus and food deliveries to be made without blocking the tram route. I would hope this could be quick fix and would hope that other members of the community who use the pavement would accept this.”
A spokesperson for Harbour Homes said they had been ‘unable to influence the council’s decisions’ and had met with engineers over the last three years to find a solution. They said they raised concerns during the tram consultation and ‘have a meeting arranged with residents to check what more we can do to support them.’ They added they are exploring the option of temporary parking at nearby streets and the rear of the building but could not provide a timeline for this.
Councillor Scott Arthur, transport convener, said: “The Trams to Newhaven team spent a great deal of time consulting with the community and stakeholders when developing designs to take the needs of different groups into account.
“While Constitution Street between the Foot of the Walk to Coatfield Lane will be tram-only, we have made sure there’s still parking available nearby. There’s also parking and loading on Coatfield Lane around the corner from 133 Constitution Street and a drop-off point at Wellington Place for residents.”
A Lothian Buses spokesperson said: “The Traffic Regulation Order for Constitution Street precludes the operation of buses between the Duke Street and Queen Charlotte Street junctions. As such there are no plans to operate a bus service on this part of the street in the future.”