Fresh pledge to get Picardy Place junction ‘right’

Plans for works at Picardy Place in Edinburgh have sparked a great deal of public debate.
Plans for works at Picardy Place in Edinburgh have sparked a great deal of public debate.
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THE city’s transport leader has said she is “very serious” about engaging with the public over plans to redesign a controversial junction following concern over a lack of public involvement.

Consultation events are to be held throughout October over what should replace the Picardy Place roundabout as work pushes ahead at the new St James Quarter development.

It comes after the council was called to make a “commitment” to engagement following criticism that a recent public exhibition simply informed people of the plans, rather than consulting them.

Discussing the roundabout at the latest transport and environment committee, Green councillor Chas Booth said there was a feeling earlier consultation “could have been a lot more transparent”.

He told the committee: “I think all councillors sitting round the table will be well aware of the public concern that these proposals have brought forward, not least in terms of the process.

“There’s a feeling that process could have been a lot more transparent, that the consultation event was less consulting and more telling, that ‘this is what our proposals are, what do you think?’

“I think it would be helpful to have a commitment that any engagement going forward will be genuine engagement – listening, not just saying this is where we’re going.”

It comes after the News revealed Sustrans Scotland quit the project’s design working group after failing to persuade the council and developers to take a different approach.

Campaigners branded previous proposals as belonging to the 1970s, saying they were all about giving cars priority.

Labour’s Scott Arthur said he too had “significant concerns” about the previous 
consultation process. “Alarm bells started ringing for me when Sustrans pulled out of the discussions,” he said, pressing the administration on what they felt was the cause.

A final report on the design of the roundabout will be returned to committee in December, with the council saying feedback received would be taken into account.

Transport leader Lesley Macinnes said: “We are very serious about opening up a dialogue with the public, and have already heard a wide range of views on proposals.

“We want to get this as right as we can for all those concerned, and further, detailed engagement will help us achieve the best possible transport solution for all road users.

“Picardy Place is a key interchange for the east of the city, and is well-used by pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and public transport alike.

“Here we have an opportunity to improve this area for each of these modes of transport, so it’s important that we involve all stakeholders in the process of achieving this.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk