Cars could be largely banned from George Street in Edinburgh as part of plans to open up the historic thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists.
Pavements would be widened significantly and landscaped spaces and a cycling thoroughfare created to give a European boulevard feel to the street in the city’s New Town, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
There will be disabled parking bays in George Street and parking for delivery vehicles at restricted times, while shrubs and hedging will be added as part of “urban greening”.
If approved, the intention is for construction work on the scheme to start in 2023, with completion anticipated in 2025.
The improvements are being delivered as part of a co-ordinated package of projects under Edinburgh City Centre Transformation, which aims to transform walking and cycling routes and other connections across the city centre.
Lesley Macinnes, the council’s transport and environment convener, said: “These animated concept designs offer an exciting glimpse into what George Street and the surrounding area could look like in 2025 – a welcoming, relaxing and unique space, where people will want to spend time, to visit local shops, cafes and restaurants, and to travel to and through the city centre.
“This vision has been years in the making and follows significant engagement with the public and a range of groups representing different interests.
“It’s essential that its design works for everyone, which is why we’ve spent time ensuring it meets people’s access needs, that it allows residents to go about their daily lives, and that it will encourage local businesses to flourish, particularly as we look to make a strong, green recovery from the Covid crisis.”
The scheme is expected to cost £32 million, with £20 million from Transport Scotland via Sustrans.
The concept design for George Street has been progressed by a design team led by Tetra Tech with LDA Landscape Design.
Simon Strain, interim head of infrastructure delivery for Sustrans Scotland, said: “George Street is one of the most vibrant and distinctive shopping streets in Scotland, thanks to the insightful planning of James Craig.
“We are pleased to be supporting the increased space for walking, wheeling and cycling that this project will create, upgrading one of the city’s key travel routes.
“The new spaces for sitting and relaxing provide both visitors and residents with comfortable spaces where they can rest and enjoy the World Heritage Site.”
In February and March, further engagement will take place with key groups, while the public will be able to see the design for themselves and give feedback.
The design proposal will be brought to the council’s Transport and Environment Committee in April and the required statutory processes under which the scheme will be constructed would begin this summer.
Other plans being delivered through Edinburgh City Centre Transformation include the forthcoming Meadows to George Street and City Centre West to East Link schemes.