Plans unveiled for first step in ‘transformation’ of Edinburgh city centre

FINAL designs for the ‘flagship’ Meadows to George Street scheme have been published by the City of Edinburgh Council.

The project will see an ‘overhaul’ of conditions for walking, wheeling and cycling on some of the capital’s busiest streets. This includes wider pavements and pedestrian priority areas, as well as enhanced public spaces.

Changes along the route via Teviot Place, Forrest Road, George IV Bridge, the Mound and Hanover Street will be made in a way which ‘respects and enriches’ the World Heritage Site, the local authority said.

Amendments were made to the original designs for the project, following a public consultation carried out in 2019.  Amongst these, the two-way cycle track at Hanover Street is changing to one-way cycle lanes on either side of the road to better tie in with the proposed George Street junction under the George Street and First New Town scheme.

Furthermore, on the back of the consultation a bus gate is also being introduced on Market Street to reduce through-traffic in the area, while footways along the route have been widened further and a new safe cycle crossing over Princes Street tram tracks has been added.

The council confirmed that it is aiming to begin construction on the project in early 2024, and, once complete, the Meadows to George Street work will integrate with the ‘forthcoming’ George Street and First New Town scheme at Hanover Street, which is scheduled for a construction start later in 2024.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said, “The transformation of Edinburgh’s city centre will lead to a truly connected, people-friendly place to live, work and spend time in. The Meadows to George Street project is one of the first steps to achieving this, as well as supporting our net zero goals by promoting sustainable travel, so it’s really exciting to see the final designs.

“We’ve worked hard over recent years to develop proposals which balance the needs of all those who use the street while prioritising safe and accessible travel by foot, wheel or bike. These plans provide a snapshot of how the route will look and operate in the near future, as part of our broader ambitions for the city.”

The project is principally funded through Sustrans’ places for everyone programme, via Transport Scotland. Simon Strain, head of programme of the places for everyone scheme at Sustrans, said, “Sustrans have been working closely with The City of Edinburgh Council over the last few years to ensure designs for the MGS project meet the wants and needs of the people of Edinburgh. It’s great to see the final designs for the MGS project now shared.

“Once complete, the Meadows to George Street project will make walking, wheeling, and cycling across Edinburgh city centre a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, connecting the Old Town to the New Town like never before.”