Deputation April 2024

Below is the text of our deputation to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Transport and Environment Committee meeting on 25th April 2024. You can also see a webcast of the deputation, as well as the subsequent discussion by the Committee.


to: City of Edinburgh Council, Transport and Environment Committee

by: The Windsor Street, Elm Row, Leopold Place and Montgomery Street West Association (WELM)

in response to: Item 8.2 of the meeting agenda for 25th April 2024: Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven Project Delivery – Report by the Executive Director of Place

About WELM

The Windsor Street, Elm Row, Leopold Place and Montgomery Street West Association (WELM) is a new organisation formed to support and represent residents and businesses in response to long-standing concerns about the knock-on effects of the Trams To Newhaven (TTN) project on our local area. We were formally constituted by our members in October 2023 and we have since been working constructively with local Councillors, TTN and others to address these concerns.

General issue and proposal

Issue: In any project the size of TTN there are bound to be many unanticipated and unintended consequences of the design, both as initially planned and as subsequently altered during construction. Now that the TTN project is largely complete, these knock-on effects have become fully apparent to the communities impacted by them. Below, we raise concerns and propose solutions for some of the specific issues affecting our area around upper and lower Elm Row, on the eastern side of Leith Walk between London Road and Brunswick Street, but we expect that communities along the whole of the TTN route are likely to be experiencing similar problems.

Proposal: The report by the Executive Director of Place rightly highlights the importance of consultations with local residents and businesses before the TTN project, and the insights gained from them. Section 9.3 of the report stresses the need for ongoing community engagement to help resolve outstanding concerns. We believe that there is now an opportunity to consult with, and listen to the concerns and suggestions of, residents and businesses along the whole of the TTN route before finalising the project. This consultation would mirror the one undertaken before the project started and would provide valuable feedback, both to help resolve ongoing problems with the current project and to inform future initiatives. We note from Section 4.41 of the report that some outstanding design/implementation issues will be the subject of further reports due to be brought before the Committee in May and June 2024. We strongly urge elected members and officers to take this opportunity to engage fully with the community to inform the recommendations that will be brought to Committee.

Issues and proposals for the Elm Row area

Business deliveries and loading provision

Issue: Many of the current traffic safety and noise disturbance concerns of local residents stem from the inadequate provision of local business delivery facilities. The current design only provides one small loading bay and turning circle at the end of Montgomery Street to serve more than 50 retail businesses along the whole of upper and lower Elm Row. The loading bay is too small for many of the vehicles that might attempt to use it, and the turning circle is inadequate to allow those vehicles to turn around. In addition, the emergency closure of the junction between Brunswick Street and Elm Row has caused traffic flow problems in the wider area, with no possible pass-through for delivery routes. This leads to perpetual traffic congestion, inconsiderate parking and unsafe manoeuvring from frustrated commercial drivers attempting to make deliveries, causing misery for local residents and difficulties for local businesses. At the moment this situation is made even worse by incomplete yellow-lining and lack of signage preventing proper parking enforcement by traffic wardens, resulting in the area being constantly blocked by parked cars.

Proposal: We note that Montgomery Street/Elm Row loading provision is one of the outstanding design/implementation issues identified in Section 4.40.3 of the report. We urge officers to conduct a full appraisal of local business delivery requirements, including consideration of delivery frequency, delivery duration and vehicle size for each business, and then to design and implement sufficient extra loading bays or permissions on or near Elm Row to relieve the congestion on Montgomery Street. We refer you to the recommendations given in Transport Scotland’s Delivering for all – A guide to managing freight transport in Scotland’s urban centres. We would be willing to assist by canvassing local businesses to ascertain their loading requirements and then pass this information on to officers. We would be happy to be involved with consultations on any draft design proposals.

Proposal: Reopen the Brunswick Street/Elm Row junction, left-turn onto Elm Row only. We believe that this would allow safe use of this junction by vehicles and pedestrians, without the problems of the previous design, and would create a local traffic circulation route that would ease congestion and improve safety through a reduction of reversing movements. The junction configuration would be virtually identical to the new junctions in the West End at Coates Gardens and Rosebery Crescent and no costly reworking of the as-built junction would be required. We note that this junction is one of the outstanding design/implementation issues identified in Section 4.40.5 of the report, and we urge officers to consider adopting our proposal for this matter.

Proposal: Complete the yellow-lining and parking signage of Montgomery Street and the upper Elm Row service road in accordance with already published TROs as soon as possible. Please do not delay this work in anticipation of further consultations and redesigns.

Dangerous driving at the end of Montgomery Street

Issue: Once the upper Elm Row service road was reopened, vehicles began driving over the paved area between Montgomery Street and Elm Row. Temporary barriers intended to prevent this dangerous behaviour have been repeatedly moved or removed by inconsiderate drivers.

Proposal: Install permanent bollards and signage to prevent drivers attempting to cross the pavement between Montgomery Street and Elm Row.

Proposal: We note that the London Road left turn ban is one of the outstanding design/implementation issues identified in Section 4.40.2 of the report. We propose reopening the Elm Row/London Road junction to left turns, so that traffic has less incentive to attempt to divert via Montgomery Street.

Planned redesign of Elm Row

Issue: We note the outstanding design/implementation issue identified in Section 4.40.4 of the report – “Elm Row pedestrianisation” – and we have concerns regarding possible further changes to this area. We are aware of consultations with active travel groups earlier this year on the unsatisfactory placement of the lower bus shelter on Elm Row between two cycle lanes, and understand that there is a proposal to move one of the cycle lanes, resulting in the loss of parking spaces. The views of local residents and businesses have not been sought so far in this proposal. We are concerned that if the focus for this redesign is only on the bus shelter and cycle lanes, then opportunities will be missed for dealing with other outstanding issues, such as loading provision (see above).

Proposal: Consult more widely on draft proposals for the redesign of upper Elm Row. Once again, we would be willing to assist by encouraging engagement from the local community and gathering views on published proposals.

Proposal: Move the bus shelter instead of the cycle lane. We note that a new, upper bus shelter on Elm Row has recently been installed close to the road-edge, meaning users of that stop will not have to cross a cycle lane to reach the bus, and we wonder why a similar placement of the original, lower bus shelter is not possible. This would be much quicker, cheaper and less disruptive than the current proposals.

Damage to road surface and pavements in Montgomery Street and upper Elm Row

Issue: Heavy commercial traffic use of Montgomery Street as a delivery hub, both during TTN construction and subsequently, has caused severe damage to the road surface and paving. While the road has now been resurfaced up to the boundary of the TTN project area, a section of very poor road surface still remains up to the junction with Windsor Street which continues to deteriorate. The footway is also heavily damaged and deteriorating here. Meanwhile, frequent pavement parking by delivery vehicles using the upper Elm Row service road is already causing extensive damage to the newly-laid paving in this area.

Proposal: Resurface the remaining damaged section of Montgomery Street and consider any necessary repairs and strengthening of pedestrian paving on Elm Row as part of the finishing works of the TTN project. We are very concerned by Section 4.43.7 of the report which suggests that repairs to the footway on Montgomery Street have been removed from the project scope, and we urge elected members and officers to find an alternative way to complete these essential repairs to the damage caused as a result of the TTN project.