PLANS have been unveiled for a ‘game-changing’ £314 million ten year transformation of Edinburgh city centre.
Developed by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy (ECCT) has received funding for the first five years of the project through developer contributions, match-funding grants from Transport Scotland through walking and cycling charity Sustrans’ Places for Everyone scheme and the City of Edinburgh Council’s capital programme.
The transformation proposals include vehicle-free streets, a pedestrian priority zone, public realm enhancements, a fully-connected cycle network, a city centre hopper bus, public transport interchanges, reduced access for private cars and the closure of Waverley Bridge to traffic to create a public plaza.
An evaluation process by independent consultants found that the development of the city centre could generate £420 million for Edinburgh over 20 years. However, the plans still need to be approved.
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said, “It’s clear that there’s widespread public support for our ambitious plans for City Centre Transformation, which will be game-changing in terms of the way people move around our city, how services are delivered and the positive impact it will have on quality of life for everyone who lives, works or visits here.
“This is a major project, which will require significant investment, but the project team have worked hard to ensure that funding for the first five years is broadly already in place. There is no doubt that its implementation is crucial considering the benefits that will be delivered – we simply can’t ignore the need to change the way we use our city.
“With our population set to expand rapidly over the next 20 years in the face of various challenges, including the increasingly urgent issue of our climate emergency response, this strategy will help us to build resilience, making sure Edinburgh’s centre continues to thrive, delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for everyone.”
John Lauder, deputy CEO of Sustrans, added, “The City Centre Transformation is a bold, forward-looking step to reduce emissions, improve air quality and deliver a more liveable city for visitors and residents alike. We’re pleased to have supported the development of the City Centre Transformation, and look forward to continuing to work with the City of Edinburgh Council to make George Street and the New Town a place for everyone.”
The City of Edinburgh Council say that they anticipate the funding for the second half of the project will be acquired from developer contributions, the continuation of funding through the Council’s capital programme, and match funding applications to Transport Scotland and Sustrans.