Edinburgh has an ambitious agenda for change, for a healthier, thriving, fairer and compact capital city with a higher quality of life for all residents.

The George Street and First New Town Public Realm Improvements Project reflects this bigger vision for the city.  It has been developed over a number of years, with extensive consultation, and in response to a range of key city plans including:

  • City Centre Transformation: an ambitious 10-year strategy and delivery plan that seeks to provide a people-focused city centre, which is a desirable place to live, work and visit.
  • City Plan 2030: the new Local Development Plan for Edinburgh which will set out policies and proposals for development in Edinburgh between 2020 and 2030. 
  • City Mobility Plan2021-2030: a ten-year strategy that sets out proposals to transform the way people, goods and services travel around the city.
  • the Active Travel Action Plan:  how we are going to encourage more people to travel on foot and by bike more often.
  • Public and Accessible Transport Action Plan: what we will do in relation to public transport infrastructure, information and integration.
  • Bus Network Review

In response to these ambitious plans, the city is developing several key projects, including:

Watch the animation about the proposals for George Street.

Consultation and collaboration

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. Read about previous consultations and what they told us.

We will deliver improvements as part of a coordinated package of projects under Edinburgh City Centre Transformation. This includes the forthcoming Meadows to George Street and City Centre West East Link schemes, which will transform walking, wheeling and cycling routes and connections across the city centre. 

Recent consultation and engagement

February and March 2021

Engagement with key groups, which informed the final concept design proposals approved by the Transport and Environment Committee in August 2021.

October to June 2022

Continued engagement with key stakeholder groups including Spokes, Living Streets, Edinburgh Action Panel, Essential Edinburgh, Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, New Town and Broughton Community Council and George Street Association to develop final Stage 3 design proposals.

March to June 2022

Engagement with residents and businesses in George Street and the First New Town to help us prepare the an updated operational plan. This focussed on what travel will look like on George Street and other key aspects such as blue badge parking and deliveries.


1998 “Public Spaces, Public Life” published

2011 “Public Spaces, Public Life” refreshed

2013 The Council approves “Building a Vision for the City Centre”

2014-2015 New layout and operating arrangements trialed on George Street

2016-2017 Consultation on initial design concepts for George Street

Oct 2017 study area widened to include First New Town streets

2018-2019 Concept design development – ongoing stakeholder and public consultation

Oct 2020 - Feb 2021 Stakeholder engagement to inform final concept designs

Feb -Mar 2021 Public information material issued for final concept designs

March 2021 Local business and resident engagement

April 2021 Council and Sustrans committees

August 2021 Council Transport and Environment Committee

September 2021 Detailed design commences

3 Nov 2022 Council Transport and Environment Committee Stage 3 Design proposals.

2023/2024 Stage 4 - Technical design

2024-2026 Avertisement of all statutory notices and appointment of a preferred contractor.

Construction start date to be confirmed.

Read more about the timeline and history of the project.

Next steps

Subject to approval of the Stage 3 design proposals by the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee the next key steps include reappointment of the project consultancy team, led by Faithful + Gould, to deliver the next stage of the project, Stage 4 Technical Design, of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work.

Keys outputs during this stage will include a final Operation Plan, advertisement of all statutory notices including road orders and preparation of final technical drawings to enable works to commence on site in 2024.


The project has a total estimated capital cost of £36million with investment secured from Transport Scotland via Sustrans Places for Everyone programme.

It is one of most significant walking, wheeling and cycling projects in Scotland, receiving the highest level of funding through the Sustrans-led Places for Everyone (formerly Community Links Plus) fund.

Funds were initially awarded in in a multi-year agreement in 2019, allowing for the development of detailed and technical designs and progress to construction.

Funding for the project is ‘ring fenced’ and provided through Scottish Government specifically to construct ambitious projects which make it easier for everyone to travel actively.