Comment: George Street plan will help keep Capital on top

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Steve Cardownie and Lesley Hinds extol the virtues of the radical shake-up of the city centre ahead of this year’s Festival.

By Steve Cardownie

The festivals are often associated with just the Old Town, but that hasn’t always been the case. One of the things that’s exciting about what’s happening in George Street is that it’s helping to bring back some of the festival atmosphere to the New Town.

A more even spread of activities will ease the pressure on the area around the Royal Mile, but it also means that businesses in and around George Street can gain from there being more to attract customers during our peak tourist season.

Another benefit is that we get a chance for more of the continental cafe culture that many of us would like to see in Edinburgh, and that would fit well with the existing George Street vibe.

We’ve already seen the success of last year’s set-up outside the Assembly 
Rooms with the Spiegeltent. Now, there’s the chance to use the whole length of the street for drinking, eating and special events that altogether make Edinburgh such a special place in August.

The festivals are part of what makes the city unique and also make a huge difference to our economy. Without them, Edinburgh would be a poorer place in many senses.

The plans for George Street will help us keep our reputation, keep people coming and keep Edinburgh among the very best culture and visitor spots in the world.

Councillor Steve Cardownie is the deputy council leader and the city’s festivals champion.

‘IT HELPS US SEE WHAT THE FUTURE MIGHT HOLD’

By Lesley Hinds

Edinburgh is blessed with several iconic thoroughfares, with George Street one of the most elegant and vibrant streets in the country.

The plans we’ve agreed with Essential Edinburgh and local businesses are a great example of how we can work together to create better public spaces for locals and visitors.

Thankfully, we’ve been able to plan transport arrangements that maintain parking and keep traffic flowing during the three-and-a-half weeks, starting from August 1.

But it’s not just all about the festivals. Doing events like this helps us to see what the future might hold for areas like George Street.

Any city has to evolve and develop if it’s going to continue attracting people, whether that’s for a day or a lifetime. We will be able to learn from August’s changes – what people liked, what we could do better and what, overall, does it tell us about how the city centre should look like in years to come.

The changes that took place on the Royal Mile several years ago were greeted, by some, with concern. But now I think it’s fair to say there’s a consensus now that it only made the Old Town even

stronger.

George Street has already transformed over the years – for the better – and now we might get a glimpse of the next stage in its development.

Councillor Lesley Hinds is the city’s transport and environment convener.

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