PICARDY PLACE – HAVE YOUR SAY!

Today, the Picardy Place consultation continues upstairs at 11 Multrees Walk from 10am to 4pm. We urge everyone to attend. 

For those unable to make it, the display boards are supposed to be online at togetherforedinburgh.com early next week. 

We’ve photographed some of the most relevant ones already, and will replace them with clearer images if and when they become available. 

[On the plan above: pink is shared pedestrian/cycle areas; blue is footway; sandy brown is segregated cycleway.]

Have your say

If you wish to express an opinion – and the developers are adamant that this is indeed a consultation exercise not information about a fait accompli – then the developers have provided complimentary paper slips with 4 lines of 9cm each.

Alternatively, you can email them at: esjcommunity@laingorourke.com You must do so in the next few days.

The developers assure Spurtle that all comments will be collated and presented to the Council to accompany a report which will be discussed and voted upon by the Transport & Environment Committee on 5 October.

Reactions

Representatives of the developer told us yesterday that reaction on the day had generally been supportive.

The reactions we’ve heard and read are ones of deep disappointment or active hostility (see Twitter screenshots for examples).

In the interests of balance, we’ve looked for people who have something positive to say, but haven’t found any.

Instead, there is a widely held sense that, despite the Council’s and developer’s stated intentions, the proposed gyratory unduly prioritises motor traffic over cyclists and pedestrians. The passage of cyclists, far from being free flowing, is constantly interrupted. Shared pedestrian and cycle routes please neither group.

Some cyclists also feel the layout is dangerous and incoherent.

This may partly be explained by not all relevant elements of the design appearing on the display boards. For example, there is no sign of the partially segregated two-way cycleway proposed for the south side of York Place. Similarly, the likely tram arrangements are not shown. The image below does not show all the planned Toucan crossings. It all seems a bit of a guddle.

A traffic consultant working for the developers told Spurtle yesterday that cyclist safety was a key consideration in the design, but it would be counterproductive to introduce a bottleneck into the network here which did not cater for the predicted level of motor traffic.

Critics respond that if you build capacity for traffic, traffic will fill it. (Especially if attracted by the prospect of a 1,600 space car park under the new St James Quarter.)

There’s considerable anger that an attractive and popular area of public space outside the Cathedral, shielded from the current traffic’s roar and fumes, is being replaced by highway.

The developers told us today that a similarly shielded area of public realm was possible in the central part of the gyratory. There is a vague aspiration to re-site the Paolozzis here, but no promises have or will be made at this stage.

The presence of this central area arose from the earlier requirement to reposition the King James Hotel. That requirement no longer exists, and yet the space for it appears now to be the principal factor literally shaping the size and layout of the gyratory.

Its development potential is also an attractive financial asset for the Council, although why anyone who didn’t have to would want to visit a constrained site circled by traffic is not particularly clear. Also, how would service vehicles, bin lorries, fire engines or visitors in cars access any such development?

Generally, there is a widespread sense of incredulity that the proposals are being presented as the product of adequate consultation, when engaging lay members of the general public (rather than key stakeholders behind closed doors) started yesterday at 10am, will end today at 4pm, and go before the Transport & Environment Committee for a vote on 5 October.

The Transport & Environment Committee may play for time, ask for modifications, seek various assurances. But the contractors are doubtless applying pressure – they want to start work as soon as possible to make use of the current lull in traffic during the remaining nine months of Leith Street’s closure.

Perhaps the overriding sense among sceptics of the proposals is that somehow Edinburgh is being bounced into a decision too soon. There are powerful forces at work here connected to trams, the St James Quarter, public and private finance. By all means let’s improve Picardy Place, but let’s do it at a pace and level of transparency that allows the public to feel confident the right decisions are being made properly.

Whatever your views, we recommend you write to the developer, write to the Transport & Environment Committee Convener, write to your ward councillors whether or not you live near Picardy Place. This is a proposal which affects all of us. Have your say. 

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Picardy Place
55° 57' 24.9084" N, 3° 11' 12.5232" W
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