Improving Charlotte Square

Charlotte Square improvements

Charlotte Square is a vital part of our plans to transorm the city centre, making it better for walking, wheeling and cycling as well as spending time in and connecting to other parts of the city.

As a strategic link connecting City Centre West to East Cycle Link with the George Street and the First New Town project, Charlotte Square is crucial to our City Cente Transformation plan and Our Future Streets: a circulation plan for Edinburgh, both of which will help us transform how we move around the city centre, our main travel corridors across the city and our neighbourhoods.

Read more about the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation Plan.

Read more about Our Future Streets: a circulation plan for Edinburgh.

We are currently resurfacing the roads in and around Charlotte Square and this work is due to be completed in late March to early April 2024. 

Once this is done, we will complete the walking, wheeling and cycling connection linking the wider City Centre West Edinburgh Link from West Register House to George Street, along with general improvements to the area. This will include

  • Widening pavements and making sure they are accessible to everyone by addressing existing levels.
  • Adding new pedestrian crossings and upgrading existing crossings.
  • Creating quiet areas to stop and spend time in.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the world heritage assets and character
  • Installing segregated cycle tracks beside main roads.
  • Connecting key parts of the city's cycle network.
  • Providing alternative cycle routes which avoid tram lines.

Phase 1

Completed late March.

Charlotte Square and North and South Charlotte Street were part of our 2023 to 2024 road maintenace programme. While developing our design proposals for improvements to Charlotte Square, we decided to deliver some of our future layout changes during the maintenance works, making it less disruptive for residents and businesses and easier to manage.

The road maintenance work started in October 2023 and finished late March 2024.

As part of the City Centre West to East Link project we have already agreed a package of work which includes

  • A trial to reduce from four lanes to three lanes of traffic on Charlotte Street, two northbound and one southbound. Vehicle traffic will be monitored ahead of phase 2.
  • Segregation kerb units to reduce road space on Charlotte Street and the south side of Charlotte Square.
  • Removing two traffic islands on Charlotte Street to help us introduce the other changes.

During the resurfacing work, road markings were reinstated to fit with the next phase. This reduces the need to remove road markings and further resurfacing work. To allow this to work, we have installed lane defender units to reflect the road space layout of future phases.

Phase 2 

Summer to late 2024

To provide safe walking, wheeling and cycling connections between the City Centre West to East Link and George Street, we will refurbish traffic signals to create a dedicated cyclist crossing and close the north east exit from Charlotte Square. This will include

  • Full refurbishment of signals at the Charlotte Street and George Street junction to improve pedestrian and cycling crossings.
  • A new cycle track on the west side of Charlotte Street at the George Street junction.

Phase 3

Programmed for construction late 2026 - 2028

We are developing concept designs for a permanent scheme. The final designs will be subject to securing Statutory Orders and funding.

Current designs include

  • A new operational layout of Charlotte Square including loading and servicing bays, bus stops and parking.
  • Pavement upgrades in high quality, natural materials.
  • Exploring the options to make it easier for everyone to access the area by levelling the pavements around Charlotte Square. This could involve us removing the current steps to return the levels to their previous state from pre-1960s.