Computer generated image of how landscaped seating area will look after construction

Sustainability is central to the design and the proposals support our ambition to be a net-zero carbon city by 2030.

Significantly reducing vehicle access will encourage more people to choose sustainable transport instead of the car. While introducing a variety of suitable plants and hedging will help to increase local biodiversity.

Investment in well-planned improvements to the outdoor space, including landscaped seating areas is shown to attract more people to visit and spend time in the area.

Good for people: Urban greening and planting for relaxation and enjoyment

Spending time near nature improves physical and mental health by increasing energy levels and lowering stress and blood pressure. It also aids recovery from illness, therefore reducing healthcare costs.

Read about how nature benefits mental health according to Mind, how investing in nature is an investment in the NHS, Environment Agency Chief Executive - GOV.UK and how nature is prescribed to help health (rspb.org.uk)

Street greening can also increase safety as planting creates safer walking environments by clearly defining the space available for walking and wheeling.

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Good for the economy: Urban greening is good for local business

Commercial streets with street greening show higher income streams than those without as customers are likely to spend more time and money in retail areas with street greening. 

We commissioned Rettie and Co to carry out an Economic Impact Assessment looking at the potential economic impact on the local economy. The report concludes that full investment in the proposals will generate a potential net Gross Value Added benefit of £95 million. The full Economic Impact Assessment is availabe to read as appendix 4 in the Transport and Environment Committee report. 

Well-planned improvements to public spaces within town and city centres have been shown to boost commercial trading by up to 40%. Read more about what Living Streets has to say about the pedestrian pound

Investments in walking environments can increase the value of residential and commercial properties, and of rental income. Read the Living Streets report on investing in the walking environment.

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Good for the environment: Urban greening combats flooding

Soft landscaping including plants and hedging reduces the impact of heavy rain and floods, making Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems more effective, which absorbs carbon, helps filter out air pollutants and can help improve mental wellbeing

Planting regulates water flow, improves water quality, and reduces urban water run-off. Read about urban rain gardens.

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Sustainable urban drainage

Street greening provides an opportunity to increase sustainable drainage. The aim is to reduce the volume and speed of rainwater entering and potentially overwhelming urban drainage systems, which can cause flooding.

Water is held, often in soft, greened areas, where it can infiltrate the ground and re-enter the freshwater cycle. The rate at which surface water drainage re-enters the freshwater cycle is slowed down by the planting, so reduces the risk of flooding. 

Greening within the proposals

Previous consultation showed a desire for street planting within George Street. There are currently over 150 uncoordinated, individual elements of street greening, including small trees and shrubs. 

The proposals provide a coherent approach to incorporating greenery along the street, with appropriate plants and hedging, that will be visually appealing and add colour, seasonal variation and enhance biodiversity. The specific plants are still to be selected, but they will

  • be confined to planters and low hedges in landscaped seating areas
  • only grow to shoulder height to maintain full views of the street while seated
  • vary in form and colour, provide all-year-round interest and enhance the biodiversity value of the street
  • be robust and low maintenance. A maintenance plan will be agreed in next stage of the project (RIBA Stage 4 - Technical Design).

The proposed new seating area highlighting planting and benches.

Our plan for a sustainable urban drainage system (SUDs)

A sustainable urban drainage strategy has been developed for the street which

  • integrates with the unique heritage
  • helps to make the street more adaptable to the impacts of climate change and helps us reach our goal of being net zero carbon by 2030
  • is practical to maintain
  • aligns with the Edinburgh Water Vision 

Cross section of George Street. Pavement to the far left and right, Landscaped seating area second to left and right, Cycle street through the middle.

  1. planting
  2. rain garden soil
  3. permeable liner
  4. coarse aggregate storage layer
  5. perforated pipe
  6. impermeable liner
  7. shingle bedding

A number of drainage elements will be incorporated into the proposals including:

  • permeable paving
  • rain gardens
  • linear channels and slot drains on pavements and central squares
  • kerb drainage units to capture run off from the cycle street.

three images showing different drainage material and approaches.