THE FUTURE of The Walk was the main focus of a Leith Neighbourhood Partnership public meeting held on 21st March at Lorne Primary School.
Leith Central Community Council was well represented in a diverse audience that came to hear the ‘vision’ offered by City Design Leader Riccardo Marini. Praising the vibrancy of the area, he said that ’culture, creativity and design don’t get the attention they deserve’ in city planning. He also said that a place is a reflection of the culture of the people who live there and asked the audience to consider who and what the Walk is for. He said that the vision should come from the 40,000 who live near to the area and are part of the life that is lived there.
With Leith Walk regarded as one of the top three roads in Edinburgh, after Princes Street and the Royal Mile, Marini stressed that bypassing bureaucracy was essential to get the focus back on to people and the quality of life in the area. Ten thousand vehicle movements a day, and 7,000 pedestrians demonstrate just how popular this main arterial route has become.
Both Marini and Services for Communities manager Mike Penny urged the audience to give their views about what they wanted for the area. They suggested that a series of workshops should be held as soon as possible. But protesters in the audience said that consultations had already been done, what they wanted was some concrete results.
Pedestrianised areas, wider pavements, slower traffic speeds, more provision for cyclists and more services to support local community life were some of the recommendations. More benches where people could gather without having to spend money were also requested.
With further road works planned that will take six months to complete, the Walk is in for another period of austerity before the end of the year. But funds are set aside for a complete resurfacing of the road when all works are complete.
Mike Penny said: “There’s a reducing amount of money that we can spend one way or another. We need your help in identifying the priorities. There are different ways of looking at things. Can we do something with you?”. Riccardo Marini added: “Let’s get the passion back into the Walk.” One audience member said however that the complex issue of traffic management was really the key to all future plans. “If the volume of traffic is at the level you describe, what do we do with all these vehicle movements?” These are the questions to be considered at future workshops.