REVISED plans for the road layout at the top of Leith Walk have been unveiled after the original proposals sparked an outcry.
The redrawn scheme for the replacement of the Picardy Place roundabout includes a larger pedestrian area outside St Mary’s RC Cathedral which will allow the much-loved Paolozzi sculptures to stay there.
And there is now greater segregation of cyclists and pedestrians after complaints about potential conflicts in “shared” spaces.
The latest proposals come just ahead of public consultation events next week.
Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said the changes demonstrated a willingness to listen and take new ideas on board.
The existing roundabout is being replaced as part of the massive St James Quarter development.
When the original plans for the junction were highlighted by the Evening News in September, cycling and pedestrian campaigners said the design - involving three lanes of traffic on each side of a central triangle – belonged the 1970s.
And transport body Sustrans, which pulled out of the project steering group after its calls for a different approach were overruled, said the multi-lane gyratory traffic system was “unsuitable for the gateway to Edinburgh’s World Heritage area”.
Council chiefs bowed to public pressure and agreed to more consultation over the controversial road layout. And now they have produced a revised scheme which they want to hear people’s views on.
In the revised proposals, the heart of the scheme – the large triangular island with three lanes of traffic on each side – is still there.
But the new drawings show a larger area of public space outside the cathedral, more footway space and a reduction in potential conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists at key points.
The cycle route coming from York Place will now use a segregated cycle lane in front of the cathedral before crossing Leith Street to the cycle lane on the Omni side of the road.
Other changes include:
n The width of traffic lanes has been reduced at various points.
n What was to be shared space outside the cathedral is now footway only.
n A wider footway outside the Conan Doyle pub on the corner with York Place.
n A wider footway from Picardy Place around the corner into Union Place.
n Carriageway reduced to two lanes at north-east corner of the central island.
Final designs are expected to be discussed by the council’s transport committee in the new year. Public views are also being invited on what should go on the island where the roundabout now site.
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “Having allowed more time for public engagement, I am pleased we have been able to accommodate further design changes based on the valuable feedback received to date.
“The desire for more public space, in particular, has come across loud and clear and the latest designs clearly reflect this.”
She encouraged anyone with an interest to attend the public engagement events.
“Comments and ideas gathered will help us to create a final design that best meets the needs of all, benefiting pedestrians and cyclists while enabling the smooth flow of public transport to and from the city.
“We have demonstrated through this process a willingness to listen and to take new ideas on board where possible and we will do so again.”
George Lowder, chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, welcomed the revised scheme:
He said: “Picardy Place is a crucial city-centre hub for public transport with tens of thousands of people travelling through the junction by bus each and every day.
“The challenge for us is to find the best balance between all forms of public transport, active travel and other vehicles. We believe these latest proposals would go a long way to delivering this.”
*Members of the public will be able to view and comment on the latest proposals on Tuesday, 10am–7pm, in the City Art Centre and on Wednesday, 3pm–7pm, in Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church.
Officers will be on hand to explain how the road design has evolved, discuss the ideas and comments made to date and seek views from the public on how the design could be improved.
The revised proposals are also available to view on the council’s online consultation hub, where members of the public will be able to have their say until December 15.