How the street will work

The Operation Plan proposes how the George Street and First New Town area will work once we have completed construction. 

The plan

  • sets out the access plan for all vehicles and the timings of vehicle restrictions
  • will improve accessibility, encourage active travel, prioritise essential public transport and manage traffic access to the area
  • form the basis of securing the road statutory orders which are needed before we can proceed with construction. We will publicly advertise the statutory notices later in 2023.

We have engaged extensively with stakeholder and community groups, residents and businesses to understand the needs of those living and working there.

On Hanover Street, Frederick Street and North Castle Street, the location of bus stops, parking, loading and disabled bays will be agreed through further business and resident engagement over summer 2023 before we make final recommendations.

Diagram: operation plan key elements shown individually. Locations are interim on side streets. Diagram showing elements of the operation plan or how the street will work.


Diagram: operation plan elements combined. Locations are interim on side streets.

Graphic showing layout of combined operation plan elements


The final plan was approved by the Transport and Environment Committee on 15 June.

Read the full committee report and operation plan


Remove bus services from George Street, retaining services running across George Street from Frederick Street, Hanover Street and St David Street.

Reposition bus stops to minimise onward walking distances to city centre destinations.

Route diversions are being considered as part of the Council’s City Centre Bus Network Review.


Remove general traffic access to George Street, other than blue badge holders.

Essential vehicle access, such as daily deliveries and servicing, will be managed with a daily access window - 7pm to 10am Monday to Saturday and 7pm to 12 noon Sunday.

Outside these times, cyclists and other exempt users, such as blue badge holders, will have priority use of George Street.

Loading on George Street will be consolidated into eight dedicated loading bays, equally distributed along the north and south sides of the street.

Additional space will be created for large goods vehicles (LGVs) within the central, uncluttered squares.


Licensed taxis can access the First New Town area. Access to George Street will only be permitted outside of the pedestrian and cycling zone windows.

Taxi rank spaces will be retained on George Street and in the wider First New Town.

We will do further research on access to George Street for taxis carrying disabled users.

Licensed Private Hire Cars will still be able to access the First New Town but will be restricted from accessing George Street at all times.


We will control vehicle access to George Street outside of the daily access window times using physical restrictions, such as automated bollards.

Access for essential and exempt vehicles during the pedestrian and cycle zone windows is still to be finalised. This includes emergency services, events (weddings, funerals, festivals) postal services, statutory works such as utilities, emergency trade repairs, Council and Scottish government vehicles.

Exemptions will be permitted for coaches, minibuses and other vehicles deemed necessary to support the needs of hotels and places of worship.

Other vehicles will need access permits, including for events like weddings, conferences, emergency trade and utility companies and major planned construction or renovation works.

To minimise potential challenges for accessibility groups, we have prioritised bus stop, taxi rank and blue badge spaces on adjacent First New Town streets, including Hanover and Frederick Street.

As well as blue badge, Dial-A-Ride vehicles will be allowed access to George Street 24/7.

We are also looking into the potential demand and viability of operating a city centre Dial-a-Bus service on George Street, as well as the availability of Shopmobility. We will need to secure funding for both initiatives.


An update to the design is including trees on George Street, agreed following discussion with Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, the Cockburn Association and other stakeholders.

Trees are important to the city’s Net Zero 2030 goal, supporting biodiversity, helping to combat urban heat island effects and supporting our One Million Tree City pledge.

The position, number and type of trees is still to be decided.

Image showing how George Street central square would look with trees.

Monitoring and evaluation

Given the significant changes to how George Street and surrounding streets will operate, we will use comprehensive monitoring and evaluation to assess the impact of the operational changes over 12 months.

We will then assess if any adjustments are needed to support both the design and operation of the street.