Leith Connection Consultation – LHNCC’s response

The following is the text of a response submitted by LHNCC on 5 March

Leith Connections Project
Survey Response
5 March 2021

Mike Wilkinson
Community Engagement
Leith Connections

Dear Mike

Ref: Leith Connection Consultation Response

I am submitting above following consultation and feedback from committee members and members of the public on behalf of Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council.

1. Design Overview

Foot of the Walk to Ocean Terminal walking and cycling route improvements

There was concern that the proposals area does not include area North of Commercial St. where the waterfront area is! There is also suggestion to route people vis Scottish Govt. site onto Victoria Quay that entry/exit access for Cala Waterfront Development/Port of Leith Housing Assoc. Affordable homes/Holiday Inn Express to signalled traffic junction that will replace current roundabout.

It was pointed out that the proposals viewable online disclose that the cycle route will end at Ocean Terminal but the stretch from Commercial Street to Ocean Terminal remains under design development. As a general principle it was noted that it is undesirable to hold a public consultation on unfinished plans. It was questioned why  isn’t Ocean Terminal shown on the map – it is difficult to see where the cycle route goes as it appears to terminate at Commercial St. The proposals would make more sense if they included the whole area and are not artificially truncated at the official LTN boundary. It would be preferable if the cycle route to follow the Water of Leith basins and make use of Victoria Bridge on its way to Ocean Terminal.

It was agreed that it is overall a sensible solution to a traffic management that has frustrated the Shore area for some time now AND made worse by the lockdown restrictions. More pedestrians and groups of adults with young children in the area have been faced with a rising volume of road users taking short-cuts through the area and this removes the risk associated.

It was felt that the route should encourage pedestrians and cyclists along the Shore to the Waterfront via Victoria Bridge and Ocean Drive as well as Dock Street and across Commercial Street-  as not very attractive section. The Shore requires treatment to protect it from further damage, including the Basin walls . It sounds a minor detail but I’m really worried about the CEC removing historic road and pavement surfaces in the name of ‘smooth cycling and wheeling’ comment from cyclist stating even as a cyclist the cobbled surfaces are hart of conservation area and should be retained. As long as they are maintained and not left to go into sinks and potholes there is no problem.

1. Great Junction Street

This a very busy Street as feeder road from the East to Ferry Road and Commercial Street, but is probably route cyclists and pedestrians may take to Ocean Terminal as more direct if not visitors or locals wanting to enjoy the historic area around the Shore and waterfront and its heritage.

Two way travel for bikes will need to be accommodated with appropriate crossing facilities from Foot of Leith Walk. Cyclist using pavements and at speed are an issue. Separate lanes would be ideal but not rapt expense of pedestrians, particularly if placed between pavement and bus stops. Separate signalled crossings should be provided for cyclists and pedestrians

The planned signalled crossing at Henderson Street is welcomed, but suggestion that pedestrian and cycle crossings should be separate. Concern for pedestrians regarding floating bus stops and distance between stops especially for people with mobility issues and people with various disabilities. Accessing and exiting buses safely are also hazardous for this group. These issues may well restrict accessibility to the Shore and Water of Leith walkway. Removal of clutter is welcomed but communal bins are a major issue and eyesore as the street appears to be only place for them.

2/3/4 Henderson Street/Henderson Gardens/The Shore

The two way cycle path presents same issues regarding buses as above. Also moving bus stop opposite entrance and exit to shopping centre, church hall and food bank is not appropriate. A bus stop opposite The one at The Vaults would be valuable

Closing Parliament Street may make it difficult for residents who need to use their cars as alternative is exiting onto The Shore/Sandport Bridge. Henderson Gardens would be good place for bike racks but there could be problems for homeowners and emergency vehicles if road closed.

There is no mention about whether floating bus stops will be on this route, it only shows cycle path for entire route. will require consultation and planning with residents and businesses that for accessing and exiting for residents in Yardheads and Parliament St. It may be difficult for accessing and exiting for residents in Yardheads and Parliament St. but there are issues currently at Sandport Bridge and The Shore Junction and will require consultation and planning with residents and businesses that exit and access onto The Shore as other routes are quite lengthy. This is also a  location where safety is of a concern is at the corner of Henderson Street and Sandport/the Shore/Tollbooth Wynd

6. Sandport Bridge

The plans for pedestrians and cyclists here is very welcome. There may need to be signed travel ways for each groupIt may be difficult for accessing and exiting for residents in Yardheads and Parliament St. but there are issues currently at Sandport Bridge and The Shore Junction. Good to be close to Coalie Park entrance and also pathway available towards North Shore area. Closing Coburg Street from Ferry road is acceptable but may raise concerns for businesses and residents. There is also a car park there for visitors to walkway that may be maintained as access people with disabilities and mobility issues. The online plans do not give any detail about the restricted access at the junction of Coburg St and Great Junction Street and makes one suspect residents will want to be reassured that access there will be available to emergency services.

7. Sandport Place/Dock Street/Commercial Street

Not a very good route with ALDI car park entrance and exit there and will there be traffic from Coburg Street accessing Commercial Street or will it be able to exit via Ferry Road? Signalled crossing at Commercial Street is long over due at this point. The moving of bus stop from current position as may cause problems for staff using this from Scottish Government and various commercial premises, it can be very busy. The proposed new siting is potentially difficult as pavement on that side of Commercial Street is quite narrow.

Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN)

The proposal designated for this area is unsatisfactory as does not take account of traffic volume as feeder route from East Lothian. There is lack of public transport in this area and some roads have already been closed. High proportion of areas on and near Salamander Street are being developed for high density housing that requires excellent public transport connection to enable LTN. The area also has high levels of air pollution as do other feeder roads including Bernard Street, Commercial Street and Ferry Road. Also very heavy traffic including HGV’s from Seafield Rd and Leith Docks. Use of heavy goods vehicles should be further limited.

As a general issue, the number of potholes in local roads is unsatisfactorily high. Without a comprehensive management plan to deal with these, increasing traffic on main roads can only make this worse. This also affects Buses. Large heavy construction traffic is also an issue especially in relation to air pollution – increases risk while idling

More pedestrians and groups of adults with young children in the area have been faced with a rising volume of road users taking short cuts through the area and this increases the risk associated. The state of the pavements, roads and streetscape need to to be improved on The Shore, should be traffic free and providing a route that incorporates  the rich heritage of the area

When the pavement etc improvements to the South Shore were carried out the Gt Junction St end of Henderson St also had work carried out on the cobbles. It comprised about 300mAt the time it was decided to put in an experimental section of cobbles to see how it would stand up to the traffic. A concrete sub-base was laid and then the cobbled were relaid. That section apart from a sewage manhole is as good as the day the work was completed. So it’s now over 10 years old. Fortunately none of the utilities has messed it up. Stuart Hall was the road engineer who ran the job and he is still with CEC. It means there is a viable alternative to the Shore if its not pedestrianised. It was also expressed that we would hate to see everything converted to tarmac and concrete. There are lovely Caithness slab paving slabs on Constitution St (been patched with tarmac just now but I hope it’s temporary) and sandstone along the shore

Benefits of a low Traffic Neighbourhood

Ideal place is The Shore and Water of Leith walkway.  Victoria Bridge, when renovated, would provide an excellent area for this. More outdoor spaces with seating would help. Green space and blue space improved with more trees and colour, maintain streetscape heritage attractions, provide access to waterfront and manage rubbish on waterway and streets provide water features for the wildlife that is plentiful. The Shore, should be traffic free and providing a route that incorporates  the rich heritage of the area

The Shore (between Tolbooth Wynd and Bernard St) should become a community focus, that all traffic should be banned, pavements extended and the cycle path follow the Shore on both sides of Commercial St down towards and over the Victoria swing bridge. Deliveries to businesses on the Shore should be made at restricted times and buses only divert over Sandport St bridge. Once the tram line opens, it is presumed the number 22 service will be less frequent, meaning fewer buses using the route.The state of the pavements, roads and streetscape need to to be improved on. Comment from cyclist, public transport user, wheeler and walker (and occasional driver). I support the idea of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood to improve the environment and the health and wellbeing of the local community.

There are many opportunities for placemaking and the creation of improved community spaces in and around the LTN: The areas at each end of Stevedore Place – the MV Fingal ‘carpark’ to the west and the area next to the listed cranes and ex-casino (and soon to be film studio). Some of these areas should be being planted with trees and/or converted to greenspace, as per the feedback to the Trams to Newhaven project.

  • The areas around the proposed Skyliner tower blocks and the wasteland next to the adjacent office block could be properly landscaped, with the addition of waterfront ‘pocket parks’.
  • The park outside Aldi supermarket could be much improved.
  • The bridges at Dock Place and Victoria Bridge – could be made safe and could form important and scenic pedestrian and cycle ways to Ocean Terminal for residents and visitors.

General comments and questions

Why does the zone for Leith not extend to the Shore? Where does the displaced traffic go – where is this identified in the plans? For example, will there be much heavier traffic on Ocean Way (incorrectly identified as Constitution St on the map) and Ocean Drive? Why isn’t Ocean Terminal shown on the map – it is difficult to see where the cycle route goes as it appears to terminate at Commercial St. The proposals would make more sense if they included the whole area and are not artificially truncated at the official LTN boundary. It would be preferable if the cycle route to follow the Water of Leith basins and make use of Victoria Bridge on its way to Ocean Terminal.

The sink holes and badly maintained roads and pavements around the Shore area make it very difficult for cyclists, wheelers and people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters. These issues should be rectified and a commitment made to ongoing maintenance before implementing further changes to transport infrastructure. **That is not to say that these areas should be converted to tarmac, as the cobbled sets and natural stone paving is part of the character of the Shore and the conservation area. There are plenty of good examples of well maintained (and conservation area appropriate) roads and pavements in other parts of Edinburgh and it could be achieved in Leith.

There are existing issues around Ocean Way/Ocean Drive traffic. This has been extremely heavy and there are long tailbacks at rush hour. There is a long history of issues (and police records) around ‘boy racers’ and anti-social gatherings of cars along these roads and in the carparks at Ocean Terminal

LTN should work with the Trams to Newhaven project and consider the whole Shore area that is affected by changes due to the new tramline, new residential developments, the much higher density of housing along Ocean Way/Ocean drive (Cala Waterfront, Port of Leith, Skyliner etc). There needs to be consistent and carefully planned street architecture (e.g. around spaces for people) appropriate to the historic area (e.g. bollards, barriers and so on).

Opportunities to improve public amenity and the environment should be prioritised, to improve the health and wellbeing of the people living in the area. The current poor state of pavements and roads should be addressed, in keeping with the historic streetscapes and conservation area.There needs to be consistent and carefully planned street architecture (e.g. around spaces for people) appropriate to the historic area (e.g. bollards, barriers and so on).

There needs to be a great deal of thought put into adjacent greenspaces, to attract people to come and walk through Leith (rather than drive through it as fast as possible). Every space is currently a development opportunity for property developers and this needs to change to be more future facing and sustainable.

Yours sincerely

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Jennifer Marlborough
Secretary
LHNCC

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