Leader: Leith Walk plans a step in right direction

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THE prospect of major work being carried out on Leith Walk will fill traders and residents with dread.

After the fiasco of the tram utility diversions, which saw the street ripped up and businesses suffer for a line which now stops in the city centre, they could be forgiven for feeling nervous.

But the details of the new plan revealed today may go some way to convincing even the most pessimistic that the city is on the right track.

Traders have already given a cautious welcome to the revised scheme, which is aimed at reviving one of the Capital’s key streets.

Cyclists will also welcome the increased provision of segregated routes and safety improvements at junctions – not least the plans for the London Road roundabout.

And the city council also seems to have taken on board the concerns from locals and businesses which arose out of the initial plans for the revamp.

There is no doubt Leith Walk has huge potential as a bustling shopping and leisure street which is waiting to be realised.

It is also the major link to the waterfront from the city centre, which prompted Sir Terry Farrell at one time to suggest it should become Edinburgh’s answer to Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

We may be some way off that prediction being realised but there is no doubt this is a tentative step in the right direction.

While there is little prospect of a tram link any time soon, the area is long overdue some payback from the city council for the years of pain.

The key now is ensuring these planned improvements can be delivered quickly and with the minimum of disruption.

Crucially, as the project progresses it must enjoy the continued support of local residents and businesses.

Will it make up for the damage which the tram works have caused? Only time will tell.