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Charlotte Square public realm plans proposed

December 6 2011

Charlotte Square public realm plans proposed
Plans by Corran Properties to realise improvements to the public realm of Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, have stoked controversy after being submitted for planning.

Designed by Optimsed Environments they call for a ‘rationalisation’ of the existing carriageway to create a new ‘pedestrian space’ via the inatalation of new hard surfaces, lighting columns, signage and street furniture.

A combination of natural stone paving, buff coloured bonded stone gravel and asphalt will be used for the scheme, which does not encompass the actual gardens.

Dr Peter Matthews, a university lecturer on the built environment, welcomed the planned asphalting works for cyclists, tweeting of the existing square: “I’m thinking of nominating Charlotte Square for a Carbuncle prize since it’s such a good racetrack.”


#1 Posted by Sven on 6 Dec 2011 at 12:51 PM
Where is the parking? The footpath around the square immediate to the garden is wide enough already, though in need of repair. Parking spaces are needed in town and we cannot remove any more. The design needs to include the gardens - all or nothing.
Peter Matthews
#2 Posted by Peter Matthews on 6 Dec 2011 at 12:56 PM
To clarify - my comments were on the present state of Charlotte Square and it's use to divert traffic around to Queen Street, not on the Corran Properties plans.
draw it
#3 Posted by draw it on 6 Dec 2011 at 13:15 PM
aye sven, aspire to the golden square in aberdeen then, the true utopian neoclassical carpark..
#4 Posted by OBourne on 6 Dec 2011 at 13:48 PM
"Where is the parking?" Are you taking the mick?
#5 Posted by Brian on 6 Dec 2011 at 13:52 PM
Ashphalt sounds like something in Edinburgh council scheme.
all square
#6 Posted by all square on 6 Dec 2011 at 14:09 PM
This is a curious one, an expanse of paving around a private garden, divorced by roads from the buildings that might lend some activation and life to it. Apart from during the book fastival, who would use it as anything more than a broad pavement? A public space that supports no public activity or amenity is just a paving contract.
#7 Posted by OBourne on 6 Dec 2011 at 14:12 PM
Who actually owns these Gardens?
#8 Posted by djw67 on 7 Dec 2011 at 13:39 PM
Given that Charlotte Square is one of the jewels of the Edin World Heritage Site, its current state (4 lanes of traffic on the South side) is unbelievable. The proposed appoach is similar to much of what has been done in London's Bedford Square (the city's only complete Georgian Square), London and notwithstanding choice of materials etc has to be a good principle. Ideally it will be part of an approach to reduce road markings and excess/unnecessary street furniture too.
sultan of brooneye
#9 Posted by sultan of brooneye on 7 Dec 2011 at 14:11 PM
You only have to walk to the other end of George Street to see an great example of how public space can be activated through simple, considered design. I agree with the latter point made by Sven; the proposal should be comprehensive and include the garden - which would appear to alter the original brief. Unlocking this door for the designers may lead to a much improved solution....
#10 Posted by Sven on 14 Dec 2011 at 09:03 AM
@#4 - Charlotte Square is owned by the property owners of the surrounding properties (as is St.Andrews Square).Parking is required as the square is mainly surrounded by businesses and not retail. It is not used much by the public as there are no shops in the immediate area that would necessitate to cross it.

@#9 - St. Andrews Square is used as you can use it as a route between Muktrees Walk and St. James Centre to Princes and George Streets. As I have just said Charlotte Square has no shops for the public to walk to, so has not reason to become a thoroughfare. Making it an attractive public maintained garden for nearby office workers etc would be welcome as Princes Street Garden gets busy during summer.
#11 Posted by OBourne on 14 Dec 2011 at 10:10 AM
Given that the New Town is one of the greatest examples of urban design in Scotland, if not the world, and that this site lies close to Haymarket and Waverley (and all the bus routes) I really do not think CAR PARKING is the priority here.
#12 Posted by Sven on 14 Dec 2011 at 21:22 PM
OBourne, have you ever been to Edinburgh? There is no city train system - trains serve areas outside of the city, not within. If you live in Morningside or Colinton then you drive. At present there is car parking all around the 3 sides of the square not used as the main road - as highlighted. There is plenty of space for car parking, pedestrians and car users. Edinburgh has a paucity of street parking in that part of town. Princes Street has degenerated due to the council's policy of high car parking charges. The opening of a large Primark is seen as the best thing to happen on that street for decades!

Cars are an integral part of the townscape. However lovely you or I think the square and city would look without traffic, that would also kill it stone dead.
#13 Posted by OBourne on 15 Dec 2011 at 09:45 AM
I have lived and worked in Edinburgh for 8 years. I Live in Morningside and I dont drive; I use one of the best bus services in the UK to get about town.

Cars are undoubtedly part of the townscape, but in a list of priorities, especially in this location, they come close to the bottom of the list.
sultan of brooneye
#14 Posted by sultan of brooneye on 4 Jan 2012 at 12:12 PM

The garden at St.Andrew Sq is indeed a thoroughfare but that is not the sole reason for its popularity; it also has provides the opportunity for a scenic stroll, seating and commerce (through the nicely designed coffee shop within the square). In warmer times every inch of the garden is filled with workers on lunch breaks, tourists and shoppers (oh and people who only want to walk through the space - don’t want to forget those, sven)

At Charlotte Square there is a clear desire line through the garden from the West end bars, restaurants and shops (sygn, indigo, ryans, rutland, whighams, house of fraser - and more) to George St. I think that the combination of the route through with the use by tourists, office workers etc and the creation of formal and informal seating areas with a cafe would create a very similar and prosperous situation to St Andrews Sq.

Additionally I too live in Morningside and wouldn’t consider driving to work in the town centre - I take the very well used bus service.

ps. OBourne - you're points are on the money

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