Chambers Street improvement works begin

A major project to improve public realm on Chambers Street got under way today (Monday, 22 February).

Improvements to the streetscape along the length of the thoroughfare, resulting in more space for pedestrians, will include the installation of a new statue of the architect William Playfair outside the National Museum of Scotland.

As part of a partnership project between the City of Edinburgh Council, National Museums Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, a new pedestrianised area will be created outside the museum, allowing for events and performances to take place.

Beginning on Monday, 22 February, work is expected to last approximately 14 weeks, during which time one lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction. In order to facilitate resurfacing and other structural work, sections of parking on the street will be closed off to cars throughout the period.

Transport Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “This project will vastly improve the environment on this iconic street, providing increased pedestrian space and encouraging the public to make use of the area for events and performances.

“We have planned this work to ensure minimal disruption to the public, though we apologise for any inconvenience that is caused as a result.”

The new statue of Scottish architect William Playfair, funded by Edinburgh World Heritage, has been commissioned by Her Majesty's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, Sandy Stoddart, and will stand on the widened footway alongside an existing statue of former Lord Provost, William Chambers, which is also being refurbished.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland, said: “All major cities have a quality public realm and the plans to redefine the use of the public space in Chambers Street will provide just that – an appropriate setting in keeping with the prominence of the buildings and a much enhanced public space for people to meet and enjoy events. This space will create a new focus for cultural activity in association with the Museum and our many partners.”

Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Edinburgh, said: “William Playfair, a distinguished alumnus of the University and great Enlightenment figure, created some of Edinburgh’s landmark buildings. Few architects have made such a far-reaching impact on an urban landscape, yet his work deserves to be more widely known. This new statue, close to one of his greatest endeavours – the re-design and completion of Old College – will provide a fitting tribute to his work.”

Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: “We welcome this project and were delighted to be able to help fund both the Playfair statue and conservation work to the museum’s steps. The project has catalysed the creation of a new high quality area of public space, for people rather than cars, with the impressive architecture of the museum and Chambers Street as a backdrop. We look forward to working on a project to link Playfair’s different buildings in the city later in the year."

Under the improved layout, two lanes of traffic will be maintained along the length of the street.

During the 14-week period of resurfacing work, junctions at South Bridge and George IV Bridge will be required to be closed overnight between 7pm and 6am from Sunday to Thursday. Look out for Information Boards for details of the exact dates of road closures.

Visit the Council website for information on traffic arrangements around the city and follow @edintravel on Twitter for live traffic updates.

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