Next phase of Leith Programme on course to get under way
The next phase of a major programme of investment into Leith Walk is set to move a step closer.
to the City of Edinburgh Council's Transport and Environment Committee
tomorrow [Tuesday 18 March 2014] will detail the circumstances in
which construction work on the section from the foot of Leith Walk to
Pilrig Street could begin soon.
Councillors are to also consider approving some additional works as part of the Leith Programme to take account of the possibility for the tram line to be extended to Leith in future.
A number of objections were submitted during the consultation process on the Traffic Regulation Order advertised for the next phase of the £9.1m Leith Programme scheme.
Although a proportion of these objections have since been withdrawn following alterations to the programme and further consultation with the objectors, outstanding objections relating to loading restrictions in discrete sections of Leith Walk mean that the matter will require a public hearing at a later date.
However, so as not to hold up the whole phase of works for as much as 18 months while the necessary legal process for a public hearing is carried out, councillors are being asked to consider approving the Traffic Regulation Order, omitting three areas where there are unwithdrawn objections to proposed changes to loading and unloading facilities.
In addition, with tram testing and training continuing to make good progress ahead of the launch of passenger services in May, refreshed plans have now been drawn up to carry out the proposed improvement scheme for Leith Walk in a way that would minimise the impact of potential future tram works in the area.
Under the proposals going before councillors tomorrow, in addition to the planned Leith Programme works, two long-standing voids beneath Leith Walk would be grouted (ie filled).
Meanwhile, a cost effective solution would be applied to the part of the road which would house a possible tram line, acknowledging the fact that this section might require to be excavated to install tram track at a future date.
The estimated cost of the grouting and wider pre-enabling work is £1m and a report will be submitted to the Finance and Resources Committee regarding funding arrangements. Please note this is separate from the £9.1m already approved for the Leith Programme.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, said: "I am sure many businesses and local residents in Leith are as impatient as we are to see work starting on the next phase of the Leith Programme, so I'm pleased that with this report, we can expedite the process while at the same time giving the outstanding objectors their right to a public hearing.
"No final decision will be taken on whether or not to take the tram down to Leith until we've had a chance to see how passenger services perform. However, we want to be pragmatic about this. If there is a desire to install tram tracks down Leith Walk at a later date, we don't want the community to have to go through a more lengthy and extensive works period than they have to; better to get some tram-proofing done now while we're already investing time and money transforming Leith Walk."
The operation of the tram will be assessed following the start of passenger services, scheduled for May 2014. A report detailing tram performance and, if appropriate, the possible extension of the line will be prepared for consideration by committee/Council in late 2014.
The timescales, associated with the Edinburgh Tram (line one) Act 2006, require works to be commenced within 15 years of enactment. This means the provisions of the Act, in relation to any extension to Leith, run to May 2021.