Pedal on Parliament 2014 Leith Feeder Ride

Pop feeder ride 2013

It’s time to Pedal on Parliament again.

If you’ve never heard of Pedal on Parliament, then you can find out more about it on their website.

Essentially, thousands of people from all over Scotland converge in the Meadows, and then ride together to Holyrood in the hope of to persuading politicians to do more to make cycling safer for everyone.

Every year since the first Pedal on Parliament protest took place, there has been an organised ‘feeder’ ride from Leith, to help local folk who might not be confident in cycling on their own to the Meadows get there more easily. This photo above shows the amazing turn-out we had for the 2013 Leith feeder ride.

Pedal on Parliament 2014 poster

As you can see we had a huge range of ages and abilities turn out on the day, and even the odd politician joined us, so if you would like to take part in Pedal on Parliament this year but aren’t sure how to get there with your bike then you’d be welcome to join the Leith Feeder ride this year.

Leither Grant Mason has kindly agreed to show everyone which way to go, but please bear in mind that he’s a volunteer, and that this is an informal ride. Therefore, please also remember you’re responsible for your own safety, the safety of any dependants you bring with you, and to bring your own puncture repair kits and so on.

Like last year, the plan is to meet outside the Cricket Club on Leith Links at 9.45am for a 10am departure on Saturday the 26th of April.

The ride will then take mostly traffic free paths to the Meadows. The route is quite scenic, taking in Lochend Park and Holyrood Park along the way. There’s also a bit of an uphill stretch around Holyrood Park to get the heart going, but don’t worry no-one will judge you if you get off an push that bit!

Sadly, it still isn’t possible to get there entirely on traffic free paths, so if you do plan to bring young ones, you should know that you will be responsible for them. As the Pedal on Parliament ride finishes at Holyrood, there’s also an assumption that you’ll be able to retrace your steps back to Leith in your own time on the return journey.

Any questions? Add them into the comments to this post and we’ll try to get back as soon as possible.

Victoria Park revamp plan gets funding boost

A £100,000 plan to install two tennis courts and a basket ball court in Victoria Park has received a funding boost, after the Scottish Government announced that they are to foot half of the bill.

The proposals are apparently for the disused former courts area, and so shouldn’t be confused with mooted plans to convert some of the underused bowling greens in the park to other uses as well.

The funding is from the Active Place fund, and is one of the means that the Scottish Government hopes to give the Commonwealth Games some sporting legacy after the games themselves are over. The Victoria Park project is one of 45 sports projects across Scotland to have received cash.

It’s not clear whether the remaining £50,000 required to build the project has already been secured by the council, but nevertheless, now that nearly half the cash has been secured, this will increase the chances that other funders will back the project.

Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: “I am delighted that another 45 projects are set to benefit from the Active Places Fund, as we aim to encourage more people of all ages and abilities to become involved in sport and physical activity.

“sportscotland and the Scottish Government are working closely to deliver a successful sporting legacy from Glasgow 2014, and the Active Places Fund is a key component of that vision.”

‘Micro eco-village’ plans for Rennies Isle revealed

rennies isle eco-lodges

Plans to bring a series of “eco-lodges” to The Shore area have recently reached an important milestone, as the firm behind the idea, SRT Eco-build, has submitted formal proposals to the council for planning permission.

The plans show proposals for three small, single-storey, buildings by the waterside at Rennies Isle. Two would be ‘eco-lodges’ whilst the third building, to be constructed on the site of the former bandstand, would be a “research facility.”

The planning application explains: “The proposal is to create a research facility comprising two Eco lodges and an Eco office and Research facility. The lodges will be offered on short term and long term rentals to the post graduate and doctoral community to allow a high degree of energy consumption and carbon emissions to be recorded in family living conditions, while acting as a living laboratory collecting data with the ultimate aim of improving the lodges to create a zero carbon emission home.

“By utilising the latest technology, and with careful design and construction considerations the energy requirement has been reduced considerably. The use of renewable energy sources such as rainwater harvesting, reduced CO2 emissions in some locations can get close to energy self sufficiency.

“Facilities for cycle parking is proposed adjacent to each lodge. The office and research facility will be sited in the position of the old ‘bandstand’ and the iron columns will be retained as a feature, creating a focal point to this micro Eco village.”

Although not part of this planning application, the same firm is also working up wider proposals that could see a further group of ‘green’ floating offices or houseboats in the water around The Shore, as well as proposals for a floating solar array on the docks adjacent to the Scottish Government’s Victoria Quay building.

Shore floating eco-lodges

You can find more photos of the proposals on the SRT UK Ecobuild website and you can find the planning application for the ‘micro eco-village’ on the council planning portal at ref: 14/01061/FUL

Leith farmer’s market plan surfaces outside Mal Maison

Leith Market proposal

There have been many attempts to set-up a sustainable farmer’s market in Leith but despite folks best endeavors most haven’t lasted more than a few months. The last attempt – which saw an “international food market” sited in the Kirkgate shopping centre made an appearance for just a few days before never being seen again.

Now, Beth Berry, who is also apparently involved in organising the popular Stockbridge Market, has submitted a planning application that is looking to re-establish a farmer’s market around The Shore. Judging by the plans, the market would be focused on two main sites. One in the square outside the Mal Maison Hotel, and another on the other side of the water at Rennies Isle.

There is no indication in the planning application of how frequently the market would take place, but Greener Leith members have often supported the idea of a Leith farmer’s market, and so we can only hope that Ms Berry can replicate the success of the Stockbridge Market in Leith.

You can find the proposals on the council planning portal ref: 14/00623/FUL

Leith tram plans to be considered before end of year

Tram Leith Walk

Recent council papers seem to have confirmed rumours that serious thought is already being given to extending the Edinburgh tram line to Leith, despite senior Scottish Government figures previously insisting it wouldn’t happen for a generation.

But first, there’s the reinstatement works to be got through.

A tender for the next phase of these works covering the Foot of the Walk to Pilrig Street is expected to be finalised within weeks, even though aspects of the design remain in dispute. Work is expected to take eight months, which means it might, just about, be finished in time for next spring.

The ludicrously arcane nature of the Roads Scotland Act means that the unresolved disagreements between local traders and the council can only be sorted out by a £20,000+ public hearing.

Most of the outstanding objections focus on the provision of loading bays and parking spaces on the northbound side of the street.

Businesses including Junkadelic and Woodland Creatures objected to the proposals on the basis that they needed a loading bay nearby in order to receive deliveries. In the case of Woodland Creatures this objection seemed particularly reasonable given the weight of beer kegs – they’re not easy things to lug around.

A funeral director on the street has also threatened to move from the street entirely as a consequence of the new design of the street.

The council responded to these objections by offering to install an extra loading bay just down the hill at 226 Leith Walk, and including extra parking spaces elsewhere, but as some of the businesses still do not deem the proposals acceptable, the council now plans to simply build around the disputed areas in order to avoid any further delay.

Officials estimate that the legal processes associated with the public hearing could slow progress on the reinstatement works by 18 months if they did not take this approach.

If the hearing finds in favour of the council, could the businesses in question have scored a spectacular Pyrrhic victory as this would apparently mean the council would have to come back in a second pass to finish the job?

Leith Walk reinstatement budget passes £10million

On the other hand, perhaps those Leith businesses might know something we don’t.

If the tram route is to be extended down Leith Walk relatively soon perhaps holding up the improvement works is a sensible idea, as all the building works may end being done at the same time.

Afterall, it seems to be anyone’s guess whether the reinstatement workers who are scheduled to work their way up from the Foot of the Walk to Picardy Place over the next few years could end up meeting the tram workers laying rails coming down the street from the New Town.

Politicians still maintain that no formal decision to extend the tram line into Leith has been taken, but papers reveal that the reason for the latest budget increase in the Leith reinstatement process is that further works are to be undertaken to “tram proof” the street.

Specifically, “voids” discovered under the road at Baxter’s Place apparently need to be made safe for trams to run over them at a cost of £1million. This new £1million cost follows the allocation of £3.4million to the Leith Programme by the Scottish Government – ostensibly to remove the London Road roundabout to make it safer for cyclists.

It just so happens that removing the roundabout also fits nicely with the tram design too.

Lastly, perhaps the biggest clue that trams might be coming to Leith sooner rather than later is that officials have admitted that they plan to use a thinner than normal road surface on Leith Walk where the tram rails will run, in an effort to ‘minimise abortive costs.’ This would seem to suggest that council officials expect it to be dug up again almost as soon as it has been laid.

Would all this be happening if any tram extension had really been shelved for another generation?

Timescales

Whatever happens the council has confirmed it has until 2021 to start work on the Leith line before their planning permission runs out, and the Leith Walk reinstatement works aren’t due to be completed until the Winter of 2016, as the works timetable above shows.

In the meantime, expect months and months of more road works. Leithers can also look forwards to the end of 2014, when “a report detailing…the possible extension of the line will be prepared for consideration by Committee/Council.”