CITY of Edinburgh Council have released a doozy of a plan to redesign Picardy Place – the junction between Leith Street, York Place, Broughton place and Leith Walk.
The proposals have jumped right out of the late 1950s. For a start they are set to replace the existing roundabout with a huge island. This will get rid of the trees and flowerbeds outside the Cathedral and the Eduardo Paolozzi sculptures (the latter are thankfully now being moved to the close by and well maintained Hillside Crescent Gardens on London Road), but also reduce the physical walking space in an area that’s always bursting with shoppers, commuters and others.
Even worse is that the increase of overall traffic lanes, which will likely have a real detrimental impact to four main (limited capacity) roads that regularly suffer tailbacks and gridlocks. CEC administration’s own transport strategy plans for a reduction in cars, but I honestly cannot see how, if they plan to widen the pipes and turn our town centre into East Kilbride, with motorways being the new high street.
I don’t believe it can resolve the problem of drivers and bus passengers waiting up to 10 minutes to get through York Place and it takes away space from all other road and pavement users.
The final insult was when CEC confirmed that they had not yet decided on a place to move the Sherlock Holmes statue to, and that it would sit in storage until a plan is in place. The same thing was said about the London Road clock literally over a decade ago, and no one has seen it since. It’s ridiculous such a landmark was again not considered.
Thankfully, CEC do seem to be taking the many pieces of feedback seriously, with small tweaks to the plan, such as not decreasing the pavement as much, but there’s still a lot to be rectified.
There are also (begrudgingly) a few potential positives. CEC currently have a survey online (https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/picardy-place/) until December 15. Please, take a look at the plans and let them know your thoughts before this city commits to another unpopular ‘renovation’.
Jack Caldwell, Leith Central Community Council, Pilrig Street, Edinburgh