George Street revamp plans poised to take a step forward

PLANS to revamp the key Edinburgh street of George Street are being presented to one of the city council’s committees, to decide on their more detailed implementation.

Thursday sees the Transport and Environment Committee of The City of Edinburgh Council adjudicate on the George Street and First New Town project, to re-shape the urban realm of George Street and neighbouring Castle Street, Frederick Street and Hanover Street.

The plans have reached what is known as Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stage 3 – when the architectural, building services and structural engineering designs have all been drawn up and checked by a ‘lead designer’.

Says a council announcement, here: ” If recommendations are approved [by the committee], the project will be able to move to RIBA Stage 4 [how the architectural, structural and mechanical services designs fit together] and, subject to securing all necessary statutory consents, construction is targeted to start in 2024.”

The RIBA Stage 3 designs include:

  • Wider pavements (approx four metres) on both sides of George Street along the entire street length, increasing accessibility for pedestrians;
  • Landscaping confined to planters and low hedges, within sensitively balanced landscaped seating areas where people can relax;
  • European cycling street within the central carriageway of the new street, interfacing with both City Centre West to East [cycle] Link and Meadows to George Street [cycle link] to create a network of strategic cycling routes; 
  • Redesign of junctions to provide cycling and pedestrian priority while also improving the visual setting around the central statues;
  • Integrated Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) allowing surface water to drain naturally via the creation of rainwater gardens;
  • Material finishes of natural stone, developed in close partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland and the Cockburn Association;
  • Designs and placemaking influenced by woman’s safety and Threat, Vulnerability and Risk assessments.

Update, October 30: A huge amount of Twitter chat on the proposals, including persuasive calls for trees, concern about the noise of buskers, the extent of consultation and worries about deliveries to shops.

Picture credit: The City of Edinburgh Council