At the last meeting of LCCC it was agreed to work together with Leith Business Association, Greener Leith and other organisations (hopefully Leith Links CC, the Pilmeny Centre and SPOKES) to come up with a response to the proposed designs for improvements to Leith Walk.
The draft plans have been out since the beginning of December and have been exhibited in Leith and MacDonald Road Library, where copies of the drawings are still available. All the information is also available on the Council’s website.
Over the holidays volunteers have been working hard to compile the Joint Comments to which everyone can add more comments by following the link and using the blue button at the top right. Please exercise your right to do so!
Edinburgh Council has already provided some answers to questions from locals here
In case you are unable to comment but would like to know the nature of the comments here is the executive summary of the 24 page document:
On 21 March 2012 at a public meeting in Lorne Primary School Edinburgh City’s Design Leader, Ricardo Marini, told locals that Leith Walk was regarded as one of the top three roads in Edinburgh (after Princes Street and the Royal Mile). Marini stressed it was essential to get the focus back on to people to improve the quality of life in the area.
We are all strongly supportive of this aspiration and are determined to change Leith Walk’s current function as a motorised transport corridor and put all our efforts into the creation of a successful ‘boulevard’ environment with a thriving local economy. Leith Walk’s improved infrastructure should provide a safe, healthy and clean environment for all users of the road. The use of public and active transport should continue to be encouraged and that of other motorised transport restricted, not least to improve air quality.
With a revised layout of Leith Walk up for consultation, Edinburgh has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a civic space that conforms to the most up to date design principles and that has the potential to become a people-friendly destination in its own right. Let’s not miss this unique opportunity.
Please find below a summary of our Comments:
With many recent local and national guidelines covering public realm design it would have been useful to see a definitive list of the policies and design principles that have informed the draft proposals for Leith Walk. In the absence of this, we highlight some of the wider considerations the council should be taking into account in such a large project.
Improved pedestrian and cyclists’ experience
Local consultation has shown repeatedly that there is wide support for a safer and more appealing walking and cycling environment. We do not believe that the current proposals have exhausted all opportunities for achieving this.
We propose that a 20mph speed limit is applied to the length of Leith Walk. We also call on the council to redesign the major junctions to make them safer and more convenient for pedestrians and cyclists.
Too many people are wary of cycling in busy bus lanes. Our strong preference is for safer cycle lanes along the entire southbound (uphill) length of Leith Walk as our research# shows that only safe cycle lanes can meet local aspirations and drive the kind of modal transport switch that is needed if the city is to meet its own environmental targets.
Improving Air Quality
Parts of Leith Walk suffer some of the worst air pollution in Scotland, which has a severe impact on public health. The council is already having to explore the prospect of charging some road users to enter into polluted areas in order to comply with environmental laws. As an alternative to this potential cost, which will have to be paid by local businesses and public transport users, we urge Edinburgh Council to make a firm commitment to invest in driving a modal shift toward walking and cycling on Leith Walk.
Parking and Loading
To give a boost to traders we would like to see parking and loading on Leith Walk managed with the aim of maximising visitors to Leith Walk. We would like to see regulated, ticketed and fully enforced parking, even if parking remains free of charge. We also call for some spaces to be moved in order to make room for more walking and cycling facilities.
Proposals to locate communal bins for domestic waste on the road, rather than the pavement, are welcome. We would like the Council to consider using same strategy for commercial waste as well in order to cut pavement clutter which is a real problem for some people with disabilities and looks unsightly.
Location of Greenery
We would like to see more specific proposals for new greenery and trees included in the improvement proposals for Leith Walk.
Signage for Leith Walk
To improve Leith Walk as a shopping and tourist destination we would like to see better signage towards Leith and on Leith Walk, emphasising it as a destination in its own right. The recently re-instated Leith Flag should be prominent in the design. There is also a great deal of redundant or damaged signage that needs to removed or replaced.
There is excellent public transport on Leith Walk the use of which we are keen to see further encouraged. Where it concerns the design of the road itself buses should have priority over cars. The road surface should be sufficiently load-bearing to accommodate the weight of fully loaded buses, especially at bus stops.
Car Club Spaces/ Electric Cars
Considering that over 50% of Leith households do not have a car, we would like to see a commitment to more provision for Edinburgh Car Club spaces on, or near, Leith Walk. There should also be provision for electric car charging.
Management and Communication
There should be one person given overall responsibility for overseeing all the works on Leith Walk who should be easily contactable by the general public. There should be a Works Office on Leith Walk to manage enquiries from the public, resolve problems and explain what is happening. There should be greater transparency during the consultation period.
NB. All comments will need to be submitted by the 13th of January, so please submit any feedback AS SOON AS POSSIBLE