Residents in Edinburgh's Comely Bank conservation area want council to tarmac over cobbled streets because traffic causes too much noise

Residents in a conservation area in an expensive part of Edinburgh want the council to tarmac over their cobbled streets because they say speeding traffic is causing too much noise.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 4:55 am

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People living in three streets in Comely Bank submitted a petition to the city council complaining of “distressing and disturbing noise pollution” and arguing it could be helped by a smooth surface.

The petition also called for speed reduction measures in the three streets – Comely Bank Avenue, Dean Park Crescent and Learmonth Terrace.

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Dean Park Crescent.

One of the residents, Chris Bradley, told a virtual meeting of the transport and environment committee: "These three roads have become major thoroughfares for more and ore traffic as time goes by and the covering on the roads is quite badly damaged. The issue we have got is one of noise and the health implications of the noise.”

And he used his mobile phone to go outside into the street to let councillors hear the noise of a taxi going past.

Mr Bradley said: “A taxi can come up Comely Bank Avenue at 40mph in the middle of the night and it wakes me up.

“When I was doing the petition I went round and knocked on a lot of doors and there were many people who were well into the idea of some sort of traffic-calming measures and/or tarmac-ing of the streets. The setts are in very poor condition and we have a huge traffic volume.”

Residents have complained about the noise

Hal Osler, Lib Dem councillor for Inverleith, which includes Comely Bank, said she backed the council policy of retaining setted streets but said one resident using a decibel app on her phone had found an average noise level of 86 decibels and pointed out the level at which employers had to provide hearing protection for staff was 85. She urged an inspection of the streets and traffic speed surveys.

Max Mitchell, a Tory councillor for the ward, said he would struggle to support tarmac-ing over the cobbles but suggested setted humps could help reduce speeds.

And Tory group leader Iain Whyte, who also represents the ward, called for a further report to look at all the issues.

Despite claims about the poor state of the streets, an official told the committee an inspection in September had found no immediate dangers which required a repair.

And a report said physical traffic calming measures were generally only considered where there was either a history of speed-related collisions or average speeds remained excessively high after other speed reduction measures had been tried.

Committee convener Lesley Macinnes said the call for smoothing over the cobbles ran completely counter to the council’s policy on setted streets.

But she proposed noise monitoring should be carried out and rejected the Conservative and Lib Dems calls for a survey of traffic speeds.

She said: "Let’s establish the scale of the issue and that would help us to understand what the next steps might be. I don't believe we should be sending officers down a route when we haven’t established the scale of the issue."

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