Edinburgh community gets boost for its plans to create 'urban oasis' on Southside

Community plans to create an “urban oasis” in Edinburgh’s Southside have been given a big boost.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 13th June 2022, 3:45 pm

The Causey Development Trust (CDT) has been working for 14 years to make West Crosscauseway and the surrounding area safer, more people-centred and attractive.

Now they are celebrating a “community triumph” after traffic orders crucial to their scheme and promoted by the city council were confirmed by the Scottish Government. These mean the traffic flow at the junction of West Crosscauseway and Chapel Street can be reversed and parking bays removed to make walking and cycling easier and prioritise people over vehicles, while also allowing for the creation of a new communal space.

Isobel Leckie, secretary at the Causey Development Trust, said: “Words cannot express how delighted we are at this news. It has been a long 14 years of grassroots engagement, consultations, fundraising, events and workshops, and working with city council officers and charities to encourage local people and councillors to see what a positive and life enhancing space this could be, with a little reconfiguration.”

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Now the trust plans further consultation with the community on their ideas including cycle lanes, wider pavements and a new pedestrian crossing in Chapel Street, a new public space at West Crosscauseway “Triangle”, a new Toucan crossing at Nicolson Street, and residents’ parking relocated from West Crosscauseway to Buccleuch Place.

A grassroots organisation founded in 2007 by local architect Alison Blamire, the trust is run by volunteers and they can be found on a Saturday on the traffic island at The Causey for their weekly “sit oots” and planter caring sessions.

The trust’s aim is to transform The Causey – defined as the area covering West Crosscauseway from Nicolson Street to Chapel Street and Buccleuch Street – into a “vibrant, accessible and welcoming public space that everyone can enjoy”. And it wants to turn the “barren and redundant” traffic island and its immediate area into “an attractive, unified, useful space”.

Ms Leckie said: “This was the heartfelt project of my close friend, the late Alison Blamire, whose inspiration has encouraged us all the way, and I am just over the moon that we can finally say we are getting somewhere. This all started with a desire to promote health and wellbeing and opportunities for neighbourliness and the community to hold its events, and today that’s what we’re celebrating.”Robert Motyka, a local resident and member of the trust’s steering group, said: “I am so, so happy that finally we can start moving ahead with transforming The Causey. Already myself and many of the local residents use it as a place to meet on the weekends, when we share coffee and conversation, but to reduce the amount of traffic and create a more practical and useable space that promotes wellbeing, well it’s just so exciting. We already have some planters that we enjoy looking after as a community, so I can only dream of what we can grow and create together with a purpose made space that puts people first.”

West Crosscauseway as it is and an artist's impression of how it could look under proposed transformation.

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Another before and after comparison showing how the area might be transformed.