Activists, stakeholders and concerned locals opposed to the City of Edinburgh Council’s latest plans for Picardy Place will meet this evening.
The idea is to establish priorities and discuss the best way to promote practical alternatives to the current proposal on offer in advance of the Transport and Environment Committee meeting on 15 January.
This is a closed, planning meeting. Further details will follow. For information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Key will be improved public space in front of the cathedral, and more emphasis on placemaking in line with CEC policies on 'active travel, people and place'.
Meanwhile, Spurtle has been copied-in to a letter sent by Hopetoun Crescent resident Anne Casson to five city councillors: Marion Donaldson, Amy Mcneese-Meechan, Joanna Mowat, Susan Rae, and Lewis Ritchie.
It was written in response to the latest refinement of the Council’s Picardy Place proposal, and we reproduce it below, with permission, for the interest of readers.
As a resident of Hopetoun Crescent, I am appalled at the plans for Picardy Place, and in particular the proposed treatment of the Paolozzi statues/installation.
This world-class set of sculptures is designed to be seen in its current configuration and location. They are a monumental asset of incalculable value to the eastern end of the city and a key part of its heritage.
To split up the pieces and dump them willy-nilly at the side of a gyratory system, and on opposite sides of Little King Street, is nothing short of vandalism. The relationship between the Paolozzi pieces and the cathedral, between the pieces and Leith Walk/Calton Hill, and between the pieces and York Place will be totally destroyed.
There is now space to accommodate the sculpture installation where the artist intended. The council must redraw the plan, to accommodate Cathedral Lane and the Paolozzi installation as they currently stand.
The current plan for the eastern entrance to our wonderful Georgian City has been designed by a set of traffic engineers who have not come up with a sufficiently sophisticated, functional and worthy solution. They offer a bog-standard gyratory system with bits of sculpture shoved in where the footprint provides space.
This is a scandal on a par with the tram debacle. We need to tap into expertise that is ready and willing to help. We should be prepared to find the right solution.
One alternative approach has already been offered gratis. Let's build on that or involve some other entity with professional competence. Let's agree that the Paolozzis must stay where they are and that a tramstop needs to be fitted into the remaining space. There is an elegant solution out there. We are just asking the wrong people to provide it.
Please ensure that the city finds a better solution for this place that works for residents, visitors and art lovers, as well as vehicular traffic.
City Centre ward councillor Claire Miller has also been in touch, outlining her response to the new Council plan as follows:
I’ve been asked by many residents what I’d like to see instead of the design put forward by the Council. I’m no urban designer or traffic modeller, so I have not attempted to create a design of my own. But what I would say is I see good examples of design in other cities where the authorities are taking seriously the need to prioritise pedestrian and cycle travel, followed by public transport, over the private car.
One interesting and new example is very close to home – the new design announced in Glasgow for Victoria Road. In this, cyclists are completely segregated from pedestrians, and both have sufficient space to move around the junction without being squashed into the left-over space once vehicular traffic has been accommodated.
Imagine if the layout at Picardy Place were designed so that cyclists had a designated space with priority over other vehicles, and pedestrians had wide pavements with priority over all forms of traffic. Ah, now, wouldn’t that would be a lovely place to be?
IMPORTANT NOTE: In an earlier version of this article posted this morning, Spurtle mistakenly described tonight's meeting as an open event. In fact it is not. Don't go without an invite.