Vision For Leith Walk: A Community Led Consultation

Overview This report describes the results and methodology of the Vision for Leith Walk Consultation process that sought to gather local proposals for the future of Leith Walk. The consultation was designed and led by local volunteers from Greener Leith and Leith Open Space community groups, in a bid to ensure that residents had the opportunity to participate in a truly independent, inclusive and accessible process. Since the conclusion of the Vision for Leith Walk process, local council officers have gone on to undertake their own consultation work using a different methodology. The results of the council process have been disseminated as part of a formal council report. The Vision for Leith Walk consultation ran from June the 4th to the 1st of July 2012.

Background It is widely acknowledged that Leith Walk has not fared well from the Edinburgh Tram project. Although the council retains an ambition to complete a tram line to Newhaven, there is currently no evidence of funding, or a timescale, to support the construction of a tram line beyond Picardy Place at present. Given the millions earmarked for public realm work to make good the damage to Leith Walk, many people have recognised that there may be an opportunity to redesign the street in order to ‘future proof it,’ and that this requires the development of a ‘Vision for Leith Walk’ that has the backing of as many local residents as possible. The first calls for a Vision for Leith Walk date back to May 2011. This consultation was conceived in response to an event led by Riccardo Marini, The City Design Leader, held at Lorne Primary School on the 21st of March where it was agreed that detailed, specific consultation was required in order to develop a shared ‘Vision for Leith Walk.’ At that meeting, further detailed consultation was promised by local neighbourhood staff, but did not materialise, at least initially, on a scale or scope that many local people had been led to expect - even though work to let contracts was being progressed which had the potential to restrict the future design of the street. As this consultation has progressed, it has become apparent that Leith Walk could be dug up once again to make good defective utilities work associated with the tram work. It has been suggested that this repair and reinstatement process could go on for as long as two more years. The scale of this second phase of disruption and the further economic woes that this work will bring to the area makes the development of an ambitious, cost effective and widely supported ‘Vision for Leith Walk’ all the more important.

Methodology The Vision For Leith Walk consultation was designed, facilitated and implemented by community volunteers, all of whom live in the area. Whilst the process was managed by volunteers, the core team of volunteers from Leith Open Space and Greener Leith have many years experience of running community consultation processes. More than one of the volunteers involved have received relevant formal training in techniques such as participatory appraisal and Planning for Real. There were three components to the Vision for Leith Walk process: ● ● ● An initial open public meeting A month long online consultation A stall at Leith Festival Gala Day

The basic process for gathering and prioritising ideas was the same across all three components. Participants were given 10 ‘votes’ and asked to use them to indicate which ideas they thought should be given the highest priority by the council. Participants were limited to three votes per idea. Whilst the opening public meeting was used to generate an initial set of 15 proposals, new ideas could be submitted at any time, and additionally anyone could leave comments on any idea on the online consultation. This approach proved open and flexible enough to allow ideas from all three consultation processes to ‘break through’ into the final top 20. It also served to deliver balance in the process and limited the ability of any one particular interest group or demographic from dominating the process. As a final check to ensure that the results are reported fairly, the draft of this report was itself opened up to public scrutiny online to allow people to submit comments and suggest changes.

Initial Public Meeting

The process began with an open public meeting held at Out of the Blue on June 4th. Approximately, 50 people attended this event, including local residents, architects, artists, a number of individual local business owners, and representatives from Leith Central Community Council, Leith Business Association and the Federation of Small Businesses. Every councillor from Leith and Leith Walk wards also attended the meeting, along with the Transport Convener, the local MSP and MP. The meeting was independently facilitated with all participants given an equal opportunity to propose and discuss ideas. The outcome of this meeting was a prioritised list of 15 ideas for Leith Walk. A more detailed report on the opening event can be found on the Greener Leith website here: http://bit.ly/NlXLSJ The 15 ideas that this meeting produced were then used as the basis for an online consultation.

Online Consultation The online consultation was held using a third party platfrom called uservoice.com Anyone could add an idea, vote for their favourite ideas or comment on any of the existing ideas. The consultation was promoted using the Greener Leith website, email newsletter and Twitter accounts. Comments made via the online consultation are reproduced in full in Appendix 1 of this report. 120 people took part in the online consultation. The Uservoice consultation platform limits multiple voting through browser based cookies and user registration. Leith Festival Gala Day On the 9th of June, the 15 ideas from the public meeting, plus a handful of further ideas received via the online consultation formed the basis of the public consultation undertaken during Leith Festival Gala Day on Leith Links. This aspect of the consultation was facilitated by volunteers from Greener Leith and Leith Central Community Council as well as Leith Neighbourhood Partnership staff. Prior to the event Leith Neighbourhood Partnership staff asked for an additional seven “Quick Fix” ideas to be included in the consultation materials at Leith Festival. They were; “Uncovered Street Market,” “Benches,” “Cycle Hoops,” “New Litter Bins,” “Covered Street Market,” “Cleaner Container Bins” and “Trees and Greenery.” As some of these ideas duplicated those generated by the community they made estimating the final number of participants at this event more difficult. In order to prevent double counting, and to maintain a clear separation between the community led consultation and the council led consultation, the volunteer team decided to simply exclude the council ideas from the results presented below. A conservative estimate suggests that 283 people participated in the Leith Festival Gala Day consultation. Report comments The draft final report was posted online and further comments were invited. The handful of extra comments received during this time have been added into the Appendix, below.

Overall Results - Top 20 ideas. In total there were more than 62 separate ideas submitted as part of the process (after combining duplicates.) The top 20 ideas after combining the votes of 452 participants are as follows:

Idea Invest in cycling and walking including separated cycle lanes Do something about the drinkers and drug users in the Kirkgate Green Bridge over Leith Walk Establish a street market to support traders of all kinds More trees and greenery Improve Street Cleaning Improve Shrubhill gap site Support local street artists / more public art De-clutter Leith Walk - bins De-clutter Leith Walk - signage Remove 50% of parking, properly enforce parking rules & use space for cycle lane Publish a public register of shop owners Repair the road surface Improve the visibility, and ensure the value of, public amenities Free public wi-fi to be extended to the Foot of the Walk Improve communication and governance of Leith Walk Audit the current provision of public amenities and the needs of the surrounding community Develop Leith Walk as a "boulevard" for Edinburgh Free and clean public toilets Redevelop the old tram/bus garage opposite Stead's Place as a public square market site

Meeting 44 0 62 18 0 15 25 26 30 17 18 26 0 21 10 45 9 0 0 0

Online 210 69 228 52 137 25 90 69 117 50 74 14 95 8 29 8 0 45 0 0

Gala Day 384 478 158 285 218 237 159 179 51 83 40 86 28 86 70 44 58 3 24 16

Total 638 547 448 355 355 277 274 274 198 150 132 126 123 115 109 97 67 48 24 16

Voting - Where the votes came from

Funding No paid staff were employed to deliver this consultation. Instead a considerable number of volunteer hours supported the organising, facilitating, recording and analysing the data generated by the Vision for Leith Walk consultation. Venue hire costs and materials for the Out of the Blue event were paid for by a donation from the Leith Central Community Council, with additional funding support provided via Greener Leith own funds. The Leith Neighbourhood Partnership provided display boards and the marquee for the Leith Festival event.

Discussion

The original intention of this consultation was to provide a truly independent platform for residents to generate ideas and identify some shared priorities for the future of Leith Walk. Due to the open nature of the process it is not possible to place an exact number on how many people took part in the process. However, a conservative estimate would suggest that at least 458 different people voted in the process, although the real number is likely to be far higher. It is hoped that these results can be used by both statutory, private and voluntary sector agencies to inform the future development of the street. Although it is intended to publish further briefing notes looking at some of these ideas in more detail in the future, it is notable that there are some commonalities between the results of this consultation and an earlier consultation process that Greener Leith coordinated in the Spring of 2010 that sought local responses to the question, What would help you walk, cycle, or use public transport more in Leith? Greener Leith volunteers are keen to work with any partner organisation to help deliver on the priorities identified in this consultation.

About Greener Leith Greener Leith is a registered charity with an open membership comprised of local people, businesses, and a number of 'friends of parks' groups. It is a non-party political body, and aims to promote better public spaces, sustainable development and community involvement in and around Leith. Key current projects include the development of a NESTA funded non-profit local news platform, in partnership with the Broughton Spurtle, a Children's Orchard on Leith Links, and a community owned renewable energy project, in partnership with PEDAL Portobello. The Greener Leith website won best 'specialist hyperlocal' website in the UK Guardian/Talk About Local Awards, and was named amongst the top 50 best Scottish websites by The List magazine. You can find out more at www.greenerleith.org About Leith Open Space Leith Open Space was formed 7 years ago in the belief that we must revive a faith in the democratic process, to give people confidence that their views can actually influence policy and decision-making. It is also a voluntary initiative that brings people together from different cultures and promotes democratic engagement in Leith by organising multi-cultural discussion events, issues based community consultation, and inter cultural collaboration through a series of "World Kitchen" events. You can find out more at www.leithopenspace.co.uk

Photo credits: Vision for Shrubhill house by Iona Street resident Michael Brian. More: http://bit.ly/rThpxg Green bridge over Leith Walk by Leith Architect Pierre Forissier. More: http://www.biomorphis.com Leith Civic Centre illustration by University of Edinburgh students. More: http://bitly.com/LfHTLb

Appendix 1 - Comments The online consultation allowed anyone to add their comments to the ideas that were proposed. All the comments are listed here. Ideas which received no comments are not listed. In addition, a summary of earlier comments received via Twitter after the first Vision for Leith Walk meeting organised by the council is available here: http://www.greenerleith.org/greener-leith-news/2012/3/22/a-vision-for-leith-walk-what-people-saidonline.html Idea - Invest in cycling and walking on Leith Walk inc separated cycle lanes Barney - “I would learn from the Dutch and Danes and out separated cycle lanes down both sides, between the pavement and the road. And I'd put the trees back down the middle :-)” Mary Graham - “It's a shame cyclists feel they must use Leith Walk. It's so busy with traffic it's not only dangerous but so unhealthy deep breathing in exhaust fumes.” Anonymous - “Also, this would have to include making the Picardy Place roundabouts safe for bicycle traffic - otherwise it would be a cycle lane to nowhere!” Anonymous - “Combine this idea with the trees and have a cycle lane down the middle of the street, separated from car traffic by trees, with access for cyclists and pedestrians in and out at each junction, controlled by toucan crossings. The road is such a disaster at the moment, it's a brilliant opportunity to start from scratch and do something really innovative and positive. “ Jeremy - “I suspect any improvement to the road surfacing would be welcomed by all road users - cyclists and motorists alike.” Anonymous - “Leith Walk is my main cycle route to work - the road surfacing is abysmal. It really is like cycling on the moon! “
Anonymous - “The tram will be stopping at the top of Leith Walk, consider provision for cycle parking, for commuters that ride up to last terminus to then tram it and vice versa.”

Idea - Develop Leith Walk as a ‘Boulevard for Edinburgh” Mary Hutchison - “The general point is more about integrating attractive public hangouts/seating. There are lots of options for this, from benches to built features. Encouraging cafe culture helps too, with the advantage that seating is cleared away when premises close.” Anonymous - “I agree with this with the exception of adding benches. The Kirkgate is possibly the way it is due to the provision of benches.”

Idea - Trees... replace the plastic arrows down the middle with an avenue of trees Anonymous - “There used to be trees there (anyone remember?) and they took them up for the trams - at the very start, before we moved away because of the whole huge mess of it all” Mary Graham - “Concern with trees although they would look nice the roots might damage road surface also obscure vision for people crossing road and for motorists to see them.” Mary Hutchison - “Weren't the central trees removed to make way for tramworks? I agree creating an avenue would be a great, lasting feature. Trees really help to "humanise" a street.“ Fiona MacKenzie - “That was tried a number of years ago but the trees expired-or were removed & replaced by the big black balls.if the trees managed to live then the roots may replace the bumpy surface with an even bumpier one.” Idea - Repair the road surface Jeremy - “The post-apocalyptic, crater encrusted state of the roads following the tram "work" is shocking, and an embarrassment to the area. Resurfacing all of Leith walk would benefit motorists and cyclists alike.” Mary Graham - “The road disaster follows on to Constitution Street which was also 'prepared' for trams.” Anonymous - “This needs to be done as soon as possible. The standard of the road, and pavements is a disgrace. This improvement is necessary to attract footfall, new business and investment, and maintain resident property value by making the area attractive.” Idea - Improve the Shrubhill Gap Site S Mitchell - “I think this should be the sight of a community owned/run covered market, much like you get on the continent, e.g. la boqueira in barcelona, mercado central in santiago or les halles in Avignon. There has been an increase in small markets over the last few years (farmers market at castle terrace, food market at OOTB, the stockbridge market) and events such as taste of edinburgh. Shrubhill would be an ideal place for these to have a home. It would be covered, so great if the weather isn't so nice, has room to expand/grow, could have parking provision (for those who still need motorised transport) would increase footfall in the area therefore attracting more trade to exisiting businesses. Access from Dryden terrace/street as well as leith walk. I would happily volunteer to help bring this to fruition. “ Idea - Do something about the street drinkers and drug users who make the Kirkgate a very unpleasant place Grant Mason - “There used to be a dispersal zone to get rid of the drinkers in the Kirkgate. It lasted a few months and then was quietly forgotten. Between the drinkers & the drug addicts hanging around outside Boots, it's not a nice place to be at the foot of the Walk.”

Anonymous - “The Kirkgate is unpleasant with or without drinkers and/or drug users. Is this the thin edge of a big wedge? These people are Leith and a voice and presence in the community. Leith must be for everybody not just the select few that meet a criteria. Ask them what what they want for their walk, they might only want to hang out in a place where there’s a bit of sun...” Anonymous - “It’s a concern that this idea seemed one of the most popular at Leith Festival gala day on Saturday. The other comment is right - should the drinkers and drug users be moved on from the Kirkgate it would still remain an unattractive place and full of shops that reflect the needs of much of the community in Leith. The drinkers would move elsewhere, merely displacing the problem. So, brighten up the Kirkgate - attract some 'better' shops that raise the tone - and provide effective services to address problematic substance misuse.” Anonymous - “Never quite thought these folk were making the Kirkgate unpleasant. If something, quite the opposite, they make it diverse and colourful. To me it is certainly a good representation of what Leith is today, in fact. As the previous comment points out, it's actually the shops and unattractiveness of some of the buildings there that make it 'unpleasant' - although still a great place to hang out if you fancy a morning can of beer and burger, as it seems.” Anonymous - “The vennel next to Lidl going to the car park is used as a urinal in broad daylight - it's disgusting coming across a bloke pissing up against the wall when you're on your way to the shops. It's going to put lots of people off going shopping there.” Mary Graham - “have no objection to the way people choose to live and spend their days. It's when tempers flare or their dogs fight. It used to be nice to have a seat there while out with grandchildren. I agree with other comments as well though. The whole Kirkgate is just a mess now. Two failed attempts at 'Regeneration'. It was much nicer when the arcade was there before they messed it up with ideas that just didn't work. It really could be something special again with some effort put into it.” Idea - De-cluttering - Bins Anonymous - “I would agree that the the bins are badly placed and in poor condition on Leith Walk and adjacent streets. Due to the poor condition gulls gain access and lead to rubbish everywhere once the bins approach full. “Also, due to the high level of on street parking street cleansing on both the walk and surrounding streets cannot be done by street cleaning vehicles and as a result need to wait on a street cleaning team with brushes to come. “I can only speak for my locale, but Pilrig Street, Arthur St and Balfour Street need much attention.” Anonymous - “With the inacting of Zero Waste Regulations, buisness will be forced to segregate recyclable
materials from their waste. This will lead to more bins in the public realm, already a default bin dumping ground.”

Idea - Remove 50% of the car parking on Leith Walk and properly enforce parking rules LivD - “Especially La Favorita - who seem to believe that the bus lane out of hours is their own personal parking space for their delivery cars.” Anonymous - “Taking away parking reduces trade for shops. This idea should be approached cautiously .” Anonymous - “If parking is restricted on Leith Walk it will push parking onto the adjacent streets, many of which suffer from over-parking already. There needs to be an investigation into parking provision in the entire areas surrounding Leith Walk, as much of it is not signed.“ Angus - “I talked to La Favorita about their double-parked cars last winter - it is not just out of hours, the bus lane is frequently blocked forcing uphill cyclists into the flow of traffic, which is particularly dangerous in winter rush hours. However I've noticed that at all times of day, it is not just La Fav who are doubleparking it is very common - and much of the time there is a parking space nearby. Reducing the number of car spaces will definitely not make this problem any better!” Idea - Install free public wifi all the way to the Foot of the Walk Anonymous - “This is both unnecessary and has the potential of damaging our health.” Idea - Unsightly industrial bins Anonymous - “Create a landscape feature which the bins along Leith Walk could be hidden behind.” Mary Graham - “If only that would work. Any kind of coverage for bins would just become another dumping place which no-one would take responsibility for clearing.” Idea - Blocking off or restrict access to some side streets e.g Lorne Street LivD - “Sounds like a good idea (but I have no votes left!) especially as the current pavement-level hump across the entrance makes pedestrians believe that they have priority anyway, causing vehicle/pedestrian conflict.. “ TomG - “While perhaps safer for the school, I suspect this idea will not be so popular with those that live on or by Lorne Street and use it daily for access to Leith Walk, nor for the shops (Co-Op, Chinese supermarket) that have their trade entrance just behind the proposed pavement, and will force all this traffic round Dalmeny and Dickson streets.” Idea - Improve the visibility, and ensure the value of, public amenities Mary Graham - “Maybe we need to be clearer what we mean by "Public amenities"!”

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