Promenade vision condemned as blueprint for a 'blandscape'

AN AMBITIOUS plan to create a 17-kilometre coastline walkway from Cramond to Joppa has been dismissed as "bland in the extreme".

The promenade proposal would see the walkway mirror similar projects in Nice, Blackpool and Copenhagen and provide room for walkers, cyclists and even skateboarders to enjoy shoreline activity the length of Edinburgh.

But in a response to the consultation, groups have joined together to pour scorn on the blueprint.

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A formal document produced by Leith Central Community Council and campaign group Joined Up Master Planning – who are also actively opposing Forth Ports' plans to regenerate Leith Docks – slammed the council-led proposal.

"In short, the Edinburgh Waterfront Promenade Design Code is bland in the extreme and lacks any sense of place making scope or future vision," it read.

"There should be a serious attempt to address a strong cultural strategy that incorporates various contemporary public art forms.

"This would then provide scope to introduce interesting street furniture, adding to the range of materials incorporated in custom designed elements such as seating, lighting, paving etc, as well as sculpture and artworks chosen on their merits to be appropriate and animate the visitor experience of the site."

The vision behind the project is for it to become a focal point for life in the north of the city, spanning communities in Granton, Portobello and Silverknowes, as well as the new developments springing up in Leith.

Planned to be unravelled over a 30-year period, the council believe it will become a major draw for tourists, and work will begin with a plaza area being built at Portobello next year.

Included in the features along the 17km path will be barbecue facilities, restaurants, additional plazas, public art and even an iconic bridge joining Leith Docks and Western Harbour.

But despite the promise of the scheme, the two organisations who joined together to formulate a response to the ideas remain unconvinced.

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The statement went on: "It is not stated as to whether cyclists and walkers will be either physically or visually separated along the route.

"The safest approach would be for definition, with an obvious delineation between cyclist and pedestrian and which does not rely on signing, only a difference in paving."

The group also urged the designers not to shy away from "exciting" and outlandish architecture, adding that the plan was a great opportunity for inventive structures.

They added: "Some of the timescales are too long.

"While it is sensible to be realistic, to apply a timescale of 30 years to, for example, Leith Docks sends out a message that it is not a priority while in fact developing an interesting coastal edge adds to the character and quality of the whole site and will assist in building a desirable, more saleable place to live."