Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Cars could face complete ban from Edinburgh's Princes Street

Princes Street, Edinburgh Image copyright Google
Image caption Under the proposals, cars would be banned from Princes Street completely

Cars could be banned from driving along any part of Princes Street amid plans to transform the famous route into a public space to tackle its "chaotic and uncomfortable environment".

Vehicles are currently able to turn left from North Bridge onto the east end of Princes Street.

But plans in the final strategy for the council's £314m city centre transformation project would stop cars.

An initial trial would pave the way for a permanent halt to general traffic.

Waverely Bridge is also set to be closed to all traffic and transformed into a plaza, while bus stops on Princes Street will be "rationalised" in a bid to speed up journey times.

Loading for The Balmoral

In a report to councillors, officials recommend that "at the east end of Princes Street, there is no left turn to general traffic from North Bridge".

Council officers said the space outside Waverley Station and Waverley Mall could be improved - to "reflect the setting of surrounding buildings including General Register House".

They added that "access for taxi drop-off to the station and loading for The Balmoral hotel would be retained".

Image copyright City of Edinburgh Council
Image caption George IV Bridge will have cycle lanes and more space for pedestrians

Daisy Narayanan, City centre transformation project director, said: "We would like to do it as a trial to see what the implications would be to other traffic, the junction with St Andrew Square and how it could potentially fit into our east to west cycling route.

"Ultimately we want to make sure the city keeps moving. Princes Street outside of Waverely and The Balmoral is not very pleasant at all - particularly for people with a disability or mobility issue.

"It's about trying to solve a current problem in a way that doesn't impact on people. We need to understand what the impacts would be first."

'Chaotic and uncomfortable environment'

Lesley Macinnes, City of Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, said: "Currently, Princes Street looks like a bus park. It doesn't help us as a city so we have to find a way to make that work much better."

Under the strategy, agreed by councillors last week, Bank Street at the top of The Mound will be closed to traffic, but remain open for buses and taxis.

Traffic will instead need to travel along St Giles Street before being filtered back onto George IV Bridge from the Royal Mile.

Council officials are also proposing to stop Market Street being available as a rat run across the city centre, by stopping it as a through-route - again as an initial trial. Access to Waverley Station would be maintained.

The strategy document points out the need for improvements for pedestrians on Princes Street and North Bridge.

It said: "There are specific challenges at the east end of Princes Street and on North Bridge.

"Around Waverley Steps and The Balmoral hotel, the mix of pedestrians from the station, together with bus stop locations and limited footway space, combine to create an often chaotic and uncomfortable environment."

Story provided by local democracy reporter David Bol.

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