Plans to give The Shore a major facelift received a boost on Thursday, when local residents groups voted to approve the final part of a three hundred and thirty five thousand pound funding package that will see a massive reduction in traffic on the street.
City transport chiefs have already drawn up a draft improvement plan for the area which will now be refined through a period of public consultation. They propose that all north bound traffic on the Shore is to be banned, with the exception of buses. This will allow the pavements on both sides of the street to be re-laid and widened, trees to be planted and street clutter to be removed. It is also likely that efforts to clamp down on illegal parking on some parts of the street will be stepped up.
Already described by some local residents as a ‘little Amsterdam,’ the facelift plans allow more space for pubs and restaurants to put tables and chairs outside. It is hoped that this will give a further boost to the well established reputation the area has as a Mecca for food lovers. The surrounding area already boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than any other part of Scotland.
In recent years, the amount of traffic using the Shore has caused increasing concern to both local residents and businesses. In particular, the rising number of heavy goods vehicles and the levels of illegal parking are said by locals to be ruining one of the most historic and picturesque parts of the city. The local residents group even claim that some of the most historic buildings in the street have suffered structural damage as a result.
There has been a two year campaign to reduce traffic levels on The Shore, led by local community group, the Friends of the Water of Leith Basin.
Commenting on the funding decision Don Giles, of the Friends group said: ‘We’re a relatively new group in the area, but we’ve taken a strong interest in this issue. I’ve lived here for a few years now and I’m so glad about what has happened tonight.”
“I think it will improve the Shore, and I think it’ll attract more people and it will become a much more interesting place. I think it’s developing in a way in which I think most people in Leith would want it to develop.”
Nicky Sherry, who is Vice-Chair of Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council and also Chairman of the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership Built Environment Group, said: “I’m excited about the project. Having seen the Shore during rush hour, it is absolute madness.”
“It will be good for everybody. It will be good for business, it will be good for the people who live there, and it will be good for all the people who regularly use it. I love wandering about the Shore, but at the moment it could be better. I think it’s a great project.”
In addition to the one hundred thousand pounds awarded by the local Neighbourhood Partnership, match funding is being provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Leith Townscape Heritage Initiative and the city council roads budget.
The details of the plan will now be debated at the next public meeting of the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership on Thursday the 24th of March in the McDonald Road Library. Once a final design is agreed, council officials estimate that work could start as early as September this year.
Have your say on the plans at the next Leith Neighbourhood Parthernship meeting. You can view the full meeting programme here.