Candlemaker Row transformation gives glimpse of proposed changes

Edinburgh’s Candlemaker Row will be transformed this weekend as part of a consultation on major proposals to reshape the surrounding area.

The historic street will be temporarily closed to motor traffic on Sunday (9 June) and brought to life by art installations, circus performances and buskers for the public’s enjoyment.

Under the Meadows to George Street project, which aims to significantly improve walking, cycling and public spaces along the route, it is proposed that Candlemaker Row is pedestrianised permanently – with access only for local bus services, businesses and residents.

On Sunday, people will be able to see what the street could feel like without traffic, as well as finding out more about the broader project plans.

Transport and Environment Vice Convener, Councillor Karen Doran, said: “This event is not only fun for the whole family but will give us a unique insight into how streets in the city can be reshaped and repurposed for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone.

“We want to create a welcoming, people-focused city and, under the Meadows to George Street project, to vastly improve walking, cycling and public spaces. The reimagining of Candlemaker Row is just an idea of how things could be, but we want to know what people think about all of our proposals as part of this major consultation.”

Tierney Lovell, Infrastructure Manager at Sustrans Scotland said: “We want to let people see some of the possibilities when more space is provided for people to spend time in, rather than just passing through from point A to point B. We hope this event will give people ideas of how the changes we’re proposing could create new places for people to relax, socialise and enjoy the city.”

Amongst activities on the day will be a large-scale installation by Open Close, who work to help people reimagine how spaces can be used, which will see the street covered in natural turf and movable seating.

Tamsin Cunningham, Creative Director of Open Close, said: "We are delighted to be contributing to this exciting event in collaboration with Sustrans and City of Edinburgh Council. The work we do at Open Close is focused on using art and creative design to explore new ways to see and experience overlooked or undervalued spaces. This event gives us the opportunity to look afresh at the wonderful qualities of Candlemaker Row and use the interactive installation we have created to imagine the street not as a thoroughfare but as a place to linger, gather and play. 

“We believe that this type of temporary intervention can be a powerful tool in imaging new ways of using the great public spaces in our cities and we're looking forward to seeing how people make use of the street and our installation on Sunday."

Leading mural artist Chris Rutterford will also be painting live alongside several of his pieces on display, while roaming circus performers from Think Circus will be delivering ad-hoc clowning and juggling workshops throughout the day. A programme of six busking musicians will further liven things up.

Proposed Meadows to George Street measures build on engagement carried out in 2018 with the public and stakeholder organisations to find out what they would like to see improved on streets along the route, in addition to other surveys and modelling.

The project is one of the winners of Sustrans Scotland’s 2017 Community Links PLUS (now Places for Everyone) programme, which is funded by Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government. Match funding for the work is provided by the Council.

In addition to Sunday, people will be able to meet the project team and find out more about proposals on Saturday, 22 June, 10am-4pm, at the Mound.

Consultation materials will also be on display and available for comment at the Central Library on 6, 25, 26 and 27 June and at the National Museum of Scotland between Friday 7 and Friday 14 June.

The consultation will run until 7 July and can be completed online.

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