As part of our display in the Central Library on George IV Bridge (running until the end of the month!) we’ve shown parts of old plans and brochures for Edinburgh since the 1940’s. We would like to share some more of our planning past on this blog, to see what City Plan 2030 will follow on from.
The first item we’ve shared is the proposed Development Plan Review from 1965, an update of our very first 1957 City of Edinburgh Development Plan!
This was a early type of consultation document, written to show the main issues faced at the time, and what the planners of the day wanted to do about them, in an accessible brochure. It refers to a number of similar issues to those we are trying to tackle today, such as how growth affects the character of the city, where to direct new growth, and concerns around increased traffic.
Looking at the contents of this Review, they took a very different approach to dealing with these issues than we would today but had a lasting impact and in large part led to the shape of the city as we know it.
City region and population
In 1965 around 476,400 people lived in the city. (mid-2017 estimate – 513,210) The Review set a target to limit this number going over 491,600 by 1985.
Early on, a Regional Plan is proposed to direct at least some growth outside of Edinburgh and keep the population within this limit.
This early hint toward a Regional Plan would eventually lead to today’s SESplan for South-East Scotland, with Edinburgh at its centre. It also sets targets for housing numbers and a plan for where growth should be allowed without pushing people and jobs away from the city.
Major new roads are proposed to reduce traffic jams linked to more people owning cars and cuts to train services. The most radical ideas of the time were plans for an inner ring road, two new radial roads going into the city and a new city bypass.
Of these, only the city bypass was built and part of one radial road – the West Approach Road, but thankfully it’s not the long road link to the M8 that was hoped for. The inner ring road was later cancelled after a campaign from local groups including the Cockburn Association due to the impact it would have had on the historic city and on local housing.
Traffic and congestion is still a challenge, but public transport, active travel and better use of public space is now seen as the way to handle it. The ongoing City Centre Transformation Project and City Mobility Plan will soon share our actions which City Plan 2030 will help to deliver.
Urban renewal and housing
The number of houses required between 1965 and 1985 was estimated at 169,350. At this time there was a focus on new housing in clearance areas which were perceived as having outdated or slum housing.
Clearing and renewing areas of unfit housing was seen as a public responsibility. Comprehensive development areas were drawn up to re-plan entire districts.
One such district is St James Square, which was cleared for the St James Centre, which itself has recently been demolished for replacement by a new centre. St James was always to include new shopping and office space. These plans also made space for the ring road and a modern replacement for St Mary’s Cathedral, which did not go ahead.
In later years there has been regret over the loss of many older districts, but this was driven by a great push for social progress at the time. Today, St James is within the New Town Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site, which goes some way to protecting the special value of our places.
Click on the titles below to download the full brochure for more than what we have covered in this blog post, and the 1974 proposals map for the plan which was approved with some changes since the 1965 Review, such as removal of the New Town ring road section.
The 1965 Review shows how development plans can have a lasting impact on the city for decades to come. As we prepare City Plan 2030 we will be thinking about the impact that planning has and how important it is to involve as many people as possible in helping to shape the final plan.
With more engagement events planned around the city in the coming year, you can sign up for the mailing list by emailing the City Plan team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d like this to be the first of a series of Past Plans blog posts, so if there are any particular plans or planning documents you’d like to see us cover please comment below and we can search the archives to see if we can include it in a future post.