Forth Bridge Experience: South Queensferry residents express safety concerns over parking plans

The Forth Bridge Experience will allow visitors to access a platform 110m above sea level – but South Queensferry residents have raised concerns (Photo courtesy of Network Rail)

 

Traffic congestion caused by a new tourist attraction on the Forth Bridge could lead to safety concerns in South Queensferry, local residents have said.

The Forth Bridge Experience was approved by Edinburgh Council earlier this week, but updated plans for the project came with a provision to reduce the number of parking spaces by half.

The community group Forth Bridge Experience Concerns says that the measure will contribute to more traffic congestion in the town as visitors to the attraction could be forced to park in narrow side streets if the reduced lot is full.

“We were just really disappointed,” campaigner Jeana Gorman told EN4 News. “We were there at the meeting and it sounded like they had real concerns about the car parking. South Queensferry has severe problems with parking, so we were concerned about that to start with.

“The condition they came back with was a new plan for the parking, basically halving the number of car spaces, so that’s just going to spill onto sides streets.

Gorman also claimed that despite Edinburgh Council encouraging people to use more environmentally means of travel, such as by bike, train or walking, it isn’t always possible for them to do so.

“People will chance it and bring their cars and there won’t be spaces, so they’ll park on side streets which will cause all sorts of safety concerns. If ambulances or something are trying to get through and the streets are busy, then they are not going to get through.”

The Forth Bridge Experience will see a bridge walk installed on the 130-year structure. Visitors will be able to access a platform over 100 meters above sea level. Plans will also see a visitor centre built on the South Queensferry side.

Edinburgh Council approved the plans at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday and were backed by planning convener Neil Gardner.

He said to EN4 News: “The committee added a number of conditions to the planning permission to ensure that road safety is protected and improved.”

“We are keen to encourage use of public transport, walking and cycling, whilst promoting visitor spend in Queensferry. The proposal includes welcome investment in public paths to the railway station and connections to the High Street through the rebuilding of Jacob’s Ladder and other improvements which will be useful for local residents and visitors alike.”

Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat was among those on the committee to vote against the plans.

“I regret that the Committee voted to reduce the parking numbers – reducing 30 parking spaces won’t save the planet but will increase the parking problems and have a negative impact on the lives of the residents,” Mowat told EN4 News.

“Councillors will all be familiar with the problems caused to residents and businesses from unrestricted parking and it is a nonsense to add to that problem when the negative impacts of a great new attraction could have been mitigated.”

Controversial City Centre car park awarded ‘listed’ status

This week Historic Environment Scotland (HES) announced that Castle Terrace Car Park will receive a Category B listed status, meaning the car park will be protected by the government and consent must now be given to make alterations to the property.

Picture by Scott Bird

Castle Terrace Car Park was designed and built between 1959 and 1966 as a central car park for Edinburgh’s growing motorist population, with the property remaining true to its original design since its completion. The car park, owned by the UK’s largest private car park company NCP, has been praised for its distinctive Brutalist architecture and is now ranked among the likes of The National War Museum of Scotland, The Cameo Cinema and The Balmoral Hotel.

Historic Environment Scotland defines a Category B listing as:

“Buildings of special architectural or historic interest which are major examples of a particular period, style or building type.”

Castle Terrace Car Park was initially built to deal with the parking problems that came with the 30,000 drivers now crowding the streets of 1950s Edinburgh. It was the first modern multi-storey car park built in Scotland with designers allegedly drawing structural inspiration from Edinburgh Castle which can be seen from the car park.

However, Castle Terrace Car Park is not exactly a revered location among locals, with most residents believing it to be a hub for anti-social behaviour and extortionate parking fees. NCP Car Parks currently charge drivers £31 to park at Castle Terrace for between 6 and 24 hours with some users branding these prices as “daylight robbery” and “the embodiment of human greed”.

It appears that NCP Car Parks might be the only party benefiting from the car park’s listed status which now means that the company will be open to receiving government funding to “support costs associated with culture and heritage conservation”, with maximum grants reaching up to €100 million.

Leith businesses fear lack of support over tram extension

 

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Leith Walk  businesses preparing for the worst. (Credit: Graham Millar) 

 

Traders on Leith Walk voiced their concerns today about proposals to extend the tram-line, which they fear will ‘lead to years of fresh disruption’ to the daily running of their businesses.

Should Councillors vote in favour of the project estimated to cost £207m – equating to £69m per mile, businesses are already foreseeing financial problems as well as the potential infrastructure layout.

A manager of a charity organisation, who asked not to be named, spoke to EN4 News regarding the the loading bays that are directly in front of their shop, which they worry will be removed. Unlike businesses on Princes Street who have entry points on Rose Street for deliveries, etc, those on Leith Walk do not have a second entry point. The manager said:

“They’re going to put a few parking spaces around the corner (on Manderston Street) so that it will mitigate the affect on us to an extent but anybody with any donations will have to park round the corner and bring their donations to us, whereas at the moment, we’re able to have loading and unloading right outside the shop.

“With the road being narrowed to two lanes, the roadworks themselves and putting in the structure, it’s going to affect everybody. I do appreciate the authorities trying to put in measures to lessen the affect on businesses but it will have a massive impact to businesses on Leith Walk. 

“When the information about the trams first came out, we did get the impression there was going to be cash compensation for companies and businesses but I don’t believe that’s going to be the case, therefore, if what the council do offer doesn’t help at all then we’ll just have to live with what’s happening.”

However, the parking situation on Manderston Street is already tight, with motoring businesses that have been based there for over 40 years battling the logistics throughout time and the tram route is expected to bring further difficulties. A worker at Dunwell Coachworks said:

“We’ve always got cars (parked), cars that are either waiting be picked up or get done. You got to park them somewhere but there’s yellow lines all over the place – where do you put them? I believe there’s gonna be traffic lights at the end of the street. I think they should make this a one way street and if they’re gonna put traffic lights there they may put double yellow lines here. We’ll have less parking, I know that…”

 

Mark Gibson of Folly Antiques wrote a letter to the council listing the reasons for the Council not to approve the tram line, one section of it reads:

‘”At a time when many high streets are dying and many more consist of little more than chain stores, charity shops and vacant lots, Leith Walk is bucking the trend. Why?”

Speaking to EN4News, he said:

The final decision by councillors will be made on March 14th.

 

Motorists to face new parking prices in the capital

Edinburgh City Council plan to charge for parking on a Sunday (Credit: David Paul)

Edinburgh motorists are to see an increase in parking fees across several of the city’s busiest parking areas, as well plans to charge to park on a Sunday for the first time.

The charges for on-street parking will increase from between three and 20 percent sometime in the 2018/19 financial year, and Sunday parking charges will be rolled out from April.

As part of the councils ‘Parking Action Plan‘, parking permit holders will also see an increase, with those living in the Central Zone paying up to 8.5% more, which the council says “will cover 50% of the anticipated £150,000 additional enforcement costs, in line with the current contribution to enforcement costs made by permit holders across the central parking zones”.

 

The path to success is to take massive, determined action.

Map Infographic (Credit: David Paul and Jade du Preez)

 

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “As Scotland’s capital, parking here is, unsurprisingly, in demand so restrictions are necessary for keeping the city moving, while also ensuring residents have enough space to park their own cars.”

Parking in the city is “in demand” (Credit: David Paul)

Local business leaders have slammed the plans, saying that it could drive people away from visiting the city in the future. Many businesses rely on passing trade and free Sunday parking, and many could be affected.

Ms Macinnes commented: “By deterring all-day parking and leading to the frequent turnaround of spaces, businesses can experience a higher footfall, while also maintaining visibility and space for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“Importantly, any income raised is invested straight back into our transport infrastructure, helping us to improve roads and pavements but also contributing to better pedestrian, cycling and public transport facilities, in turn encouraging visitors and residents to consider alternatives to the car where possible.”

Some local residents expressed their feelings on the proposed changes:

Midlothian council hope to acquire new parking powers

Midlothian Council are set to be awarded new parking powers in an attempt to prevent drivers from committing parking offences in the city.

This comes from the withdrawal of police enforcement in the county, and the introduction of decriminalised parking, which will change parking offences in the county from a criminal issue into a civil one, meaning the council will issue tickets to those who park their cars on double yellow lines.

Parking attendants will be put in place to monitor parking offences, in hopes to improve congestion through parking restrictions in certain areas and law enforcements such as yellow lines and time limited parking bays.

yellow lines

Parking on double yellow lines will still be an issue, but may soon be in the hands of the council. Image Credit: Google

Midlothian Council Conservative Councillor Pauline Winchester said;

“These changes mean that the roads that currently suffer with cars badly parked should get some reprieve once tickets start being given out.

“There are parking restrictions for a reason, and these are being ignored by a minority of people. The changes should help to make routes clearer for cars and crossing points safer for pedestrians.

“The council will introduce the changes and give affected area residents notice by initially putting dummy tickets on the offending vehicles.”

The decision of whether or not to grant the council these decriminalised parking powers currently lies with the Scottish Government, however it is expected that these will be approved within in the next couple of weeks.

 

 

 

Parking Costs in Edinburgh city centre to increase after new year

Edinburgh drivers face an increase in parking costs as Sunday parking charges come into force next year.

Sunday afternoons will no longer have free parking on Edinburgh’s streets. Charges to park your car in the city centre will be put into place in early 2018.

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Permit holders are set to face an increase in charges. Photograph: Edinburgh Greens Flickr

Parking permit prices will also be increasing in city centre zones. The West End, the Old and New Towns and Fountainbridge areas are among those affected.

Although there is no exact figure stating how much parking permits will increase by, there will be an extra charge in order to fund the measures needed to control Sunday parking.

Local residents already face charges up to £475 under the current rates, leaving some unhappy about the idea of an extra cost.

Natasha Haggo, a permit holder in the city, said: “They’re already about £200, so it is quite expensive, and you’re not even guaranteed a space all the time.”

Parking in the city is a problem faced by most Edinburgh drivers;  and traffic has become a safety hazard for pedestrians, prompting 20 miles per hour speed limits to be put in place across the Capital.

Edinburgh City Council’s Transport Councillor, Lesley Macinnes, believes the parking restrictions that will be enforced will help keep the city less congested.

Tollcross

The Tollcross area will be one of the places affected by the new charges. Photograph: Kim Traynor

She said: “As a major European city, we are committed to keeping the Capital moving, while maintaining safety and accessibility for all road users.

“Parking restrictions benefit businesses and residents by deterring all-day parking and encouraging the frequent turnaround of spaces for visitors and shoppers.

“They also maintain visibility and space for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and open the road for larger vehicles, such as buses and lorries, as well as keeping it clear for the emergency services.”


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