George Street and First New Town redesign

You can view final concept design proposals on our George Street and First New Town website. This includes an animation and virtual tour.

The proposed plan for George Street follows several years of development and engagement to refine design objectives with residents, businesses and stakeholders, including community councils and heritage, business, walking, cycling and accessibility groups.


In 1998, Jan Gehl Architects produced a major report called “Public Space Public Life” for the City of Edinburgh Council. This ground-breaking piece of work advocated prioritising pedestrians and investing in the city centre. The work was revisited and refreshed in 2010 when recommendations were also made to trial changes.

In March 2013, the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee agreed to commence proposals to improve pedestrian space in the city centre and the consequential changes required to vehicle and public transport movements. During 2014 and 2015, the Council trialled new layout and operating arrangements on George Street. Independently run surveys were conducted throughout the trial period and evidenced strong public appetite for change.

This led to initial design principles being developed for George Street with the input of stakeholders and the public. These were approved by the Council in 2016.

In October 2017, it was agreed to widen the George Street study area to include Castle, Frederick, Hanover Streets and the junctions with Charlotte and St Andrew Squares, to recognised the operational interrelationship between the First New Town streets, and the need to address critical design interdependencies with other projects in the surrounding city centre.

From December 2017 to January 2019, the Council led an iterative process with stakeholders and the public to agree the design objectives for George Street and First New Town and produce a concept design.

This process resulted in a report to the Transport and Environment Committee in May 2019 which summarised the outcomes of consultation and sought approval of a draft concept design which included wider pavements, removal of central parking bays, introduction of landscaped seating areas, and a two-way cycle way along the south side of the street.

Initial concept design consultation

The consultation on the initial concept design ended on 25 January 2019 and attracted over 1,900 responses from a wide range of people, groups and organisations. 

Download the report on the outcome of the consultation (PDF)

Design objectives

Participants at the first public drop-in event held during winter 2017/ 2018 helped refine design objectives for the First New Town. The purpose was to help guide the development of a design for the area.

  1. World class place - create a world class place that respects and enhances the World Heritage Site.
  2. Pedestrian experience - enlarge and enhance public and pedestrian space, creating a safe, vibrant place for all.
  3. Sustainable transport - prioritise active travel and access for people with a disability or impairment, with public parking on George Street seen as lowest priority.
  4. Flexible space - develop an adaptable street design, in particular enabling use for appropriate events.

The feedback has also helped to identify many key considerations when developing the design. Linked to the objectives, these considerations will also feed into our City Centre Transformation project.

Download the consultation, key considerations and programme 2018 (PDF, 9 MB)
Download the George Street public life street assessment 2017 (PDF, 17 MB)
Download the executive summary of the George Street public life street asssessment  2017 (PDF, 9 MB)

Download the heritage statement (PDF 3MB)