Lesley Macinnes: We're working with Leith residents to make the trams work
When Council approved the Outline Business Case for taking trams to Newhaven in autumn 2017, we promised to devote the next year or so (ahead of a final decision in late 2018) to working extremely closely with local people and businesses to refine the designs and project plans for the Final Business Case. And that's exactly what we have been '“ and are '“ doing.
The response from the Leith community throughout the first phase of our public consultation on the draft plans in the spring was absolutely fantastic.
More than 1,500 people came along to our public information events and over 8,000 individual comments were submitted. The process gave us a huge amount of feedback and ideas from residents, traders and local groups, which the project team have been using over the last few weeks to revisit the plans and work on potential amendments based on the key issues raised during consultation.
Some of these amendments, like the location of the Balfour Street tram stop, have been straightforward to deliver – the new proposal is to move it 60m to the south, with a new signalised junction at Balfour Street, to maintain access for residents in Balfour Street and the streets leading off it.
In other cases, where there are a number of viable alternative options that can be considered to address public concerns, we’ve invited key stakeholders (local residents and businesses, elected members, Lothian Buses, interest groups such as Living Streets and Sustrans etc) to three dedicated design workshops to examine and discuss the various options.
The workshop on 25 June will look at public realm at Elm Row, with the other two workshops focusing on the section between Pilrig Street and the Foot of the Walk, specifically how provision for pedestrians and bikes can be improved.
Of the four options presented at the first of these workshops on 14 June, one was preferred by the attendees, who approved of the widened footways and segregated cycleway on both sides of the street, as well as the potential for parking and loading on each side. This option – known as 3b – was then taken away by the project team for further analysis. It will be looked at again at the final workshop on 27 June and, if it’s approved there, will be incorporated into the final designs in the Final Business Case, which elected members will vote on later this year.
Nothing is set in stone until that point and indeed, we’ll be back out for further public engagement on the updated plans in September.
In the meantime, I’d like to reiterate my very sincere thanks to everyone who’s given their time and energy to help us get this right for Leith and for Edinburgh.
It’s essential that we find an end result that will accommodate the needs of residents, businesses and local communities and your hard work and collaboration are invaluable in getting us there.