Tetra Tech design for George Street revitalisation unveiled by City of Edinburgh Council

City of Edinburgh Council has officially unveiled concept designs by our team at Tetra Tech for the ambitious £28m transformation of the historic George Street.

Through a narrated video fly-through, artist’s impressions, interactive 3D visuals, and organised virtual guided tours, Tetra Tech has collaborated with the architects at LDA Design to demonstrate a photorealistic glimpse of what this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site could look like once complete.

The George Street and First New Town Public Realm Improvements Project will include a package of coordinated works to radically uplift the quality of walking, cycling, accessibility, and public spaces. The project’s design puts people first, protects the area’s heritage, promotes biodiversity and a sustainable environment, while also providing accessible transport links.

All these improvements will reinforce the recently announced City Mobility Plan, a ten-year strategy to overhaul transport and mobility in the Capital to deliver a sustainable, net-zero carbon and inclusive future. They also support various other Council initiatives like the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy, the Active Travel Action Plan, and projects like Low Emission Zones.

Starting this week and continuing in March, the general public will be invited to give feedback informing the final iteration of the designs before submission to the Transport and Environment Committee in April. The required statutory processes under which the scheme will be constructed are due to commence this summer.

If approved, construction will commence in 2023 and finish by 2025, with £20m of the funding coming from Transport Scotland via Sustrans.

Mark Rinkus, Project Director at Tetra Tech’s transport team in Scotland, commented on the project: “The proposed concept design for George Street and the First New Town represents a bold and ambitious step forward for the City of Edinburgh Council in developing a city centre for the future. The design provides an adaptable flexible space that will support the movement of pedestrians and cyclists, supporting economic recovery, and exemplifying great placemaking.”

He added: “Our co-design approach to this project supported our collaborative working with a wide range of stakeholders including a range of other city centre projects.  TetraTech is delighted to have worked with our chosen designers LDA Design and marketing and communications specialist StreetsUK in achieving this pivotal milestone in the George Street journey.”

Some specific key improvements of the project include the following:

  • Inclusive spaces where people can sit, rest, relax and enjoy the street.
  • Plazas that reinforce views of key historic building for the first time in decades, provide attractive spaces, and support appropriately sized events.
  • Widened pedestrian areas to enhance accessibility and movement flow while incorporating segregated space for cyclists.
  • Reallocated road space reducing vehicle impact and prioritsing bus and vehicle access for the most vulnerable. Through consideration of future economy trends and their impacts, the flexible design also allows for adaptable delivery methods that reduce reliance on heavy goods vehicles.
  • Removal of central parking areas to open up street traversal and promote pedestrian access to local business.
  • New urban greenery and removal of street clutter that enhances comfort.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes 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.”

Transport and Environment Vice Convener Councillor Karen Doran added: “I was thrilled to see the concept designs for this project brought to life and look forward to hearing the responses of all those who watch our video or see the beautiful, detailed illustrations.

“This initiative offers the opportunity to transform one of Edinburgh’s iconic streets for the better, creating an accessible, inviting space, where both the historic environment is protected and biodiversity promoted, and where people can relax and spend time on foot, bike or wheelchair.”

To learn more about the George Street project or watch the 3D fly-through, visit the Council’s website.

Additional comments

Edinburgh Access Panel

“EAP is aware that George Street currently presents many obstacles for people with disabilities. We are delighted to be involved in a scheme which will remove so many barriers that prevent a significant proportion of the population, both residents and visitors from being able to participate fully in the many facilities that are available in this attractive central city location.”

Living Streets Edinburgh

“Edinburgh – perhaps uniquely for a European city of its size and history – lacks any significant space in the city centre where pedestrians really come first.  George Street has been dominated by traffic and parking for too long and is the obvious place to put this right in the heart of the New Town. These proposals offer the prospect of George Street becoming a place where it is finally a pleasure to walk in and linger.”

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