Full funding is already in place for the first five years of the 10-year plan, which has been developed by the City of Edinburgh Council.
The Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Strategy (ECCT) involves investment in improved public spaces, inclusive access and the prioritisation of travel on foot, by bicycle and on public transport. A programme delivery plan sets out projects to be implemented during the first five years, including the creation of a pedestrian priority zone in the Old and New Towns.
The ECCT was originally considered by the council’s transport and environment committee in May and has been updated following a consultation held between May and July. Responses to the consultation demonstrated strong support, with 80% agreeing with proposals for vehicle-free streets, a pedestrian priority zone, public realm enhancements, a fully-connected cycle network, a city centre hopper bus and public transport interchanges. Seventy-five per cent backed plans to reduce access for private cars and close Waverley Bridge to traffic to create a public plaza.
Councillor Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said: “This is a major project, which will require significant investment, but the project team have worked hard to ensure that funding for the first five years is broadly already in place. There is no doubt that its implementation is crucial considering the benefits that will be delivered – we simply can’t ignore the need to change the way we use our city.
“With our population set to expand rapidly over the next 20 years in the face of various challenges, including the increasingly urgent issue of our climate emergency response, this strategy will help us to build resilience, making sure Edinburgh’s centre continues to thrive, delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for everyone.”
John Lauder, deputy CEO of Sustrans, said: “The City Centre Transformation is a bold, forward-looking step to reduce emissions, improve air quality and deliver a more liveable city for visitors and residents alike. We’re pleased to have supported the development of the City Centre Transformation, and look forward to continuing to work with the City of Edinburgh Council to make George Street and the New Town a place for everyone.”