City Centre Transformation

Overview of project:

Led by the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh City Centre Transformation is an ambitious plan for a vibrant and people-focused capital city centre which improves community, economic and cultural life. It outlines a programme to enhance public spaces to better support life in the city, by prioritising movement on foot, by wheelchair, by bike and by public transport and aims to deliver:

  • A walkable city centre core right at the heart of the World Heritage Site, enabled by a pedestrian priority zone and a network of connected, high quality, car-free streets.
    • High-quality streets and public spaces where improvements allow for people to be inspired by the city’s unique heritage while they interact, relax or play.
    • A city centre that is inclusive and accessible for people of all ages and abilities, including provision of blue badge parking.
    • A connected network across the city centre of new segregated and safe cycle routes to link communities and destinations.
    • A strategy to review and coordinate buses, coaches and taxis, making it easier to switch between public transport, shared mobility and active travel.

City Centre Transformation is aligned with the Council’s City Mobility Plan.  Low Emission Zone proposals, and City Plan 2030.

Why is the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation taking place?

The need for a change to Edinburgh’s City Centre covers a range of social, economic and environmental factors:

  • A changing climate with the City’s target to reach net zero by 2030.
    • Rising health concerns from inactive lifestyles and poor air quality.
    • A growing and ageing population, alongside high numbers of visitors.
    • Keeping the city centre as a liveable place for residents.
    • Making it easier to move around for older people, those with physical and sensory impairments and young children.
    • Supporting the economy and our outstanding heritage through sustainable travel and high-quality public spaces .

Timeline and next steps:

  • Open Streets: In 2019 Edinburgh trialled a monthly car-free Sunday in the Old Town
  • Pedestrian Priority Zone: A study to improve conditions for walking, cycling and wheeling across the city centre is underway
  • George Street and First New Town: Concept design finalised through extensive consultation, progressing to detailed designs, statutory consents and build between 2023-25
  • City Centre West -East Link: A step change in cycle connectivity across the city centre due to start construction in early 2022
  • Meadows to George Street: Developed design agreed to transform cycling, walking, public space and accessibility on iconic streets such as George IV Bridge.

Key stats:

  • 26,000 people live in Edinburgh city centre
  • 2/3 of commuters into Edinburgh travel by car
  • £310m benefit to wellbeing could be brought about by Edinburgh City Centre Transformation through impacts such as a decrease in congestion, air pollution and increase in people visiting greenspaces.
  • £100m economic benefit could be brought about by the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation through impacts such as increase in spending, walking and cycling, and accident prevention.

More information: