Plans to re-imagine Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Gardens are being backed by city residents, according to the results of a public consultation.
The Quaich Project, a public-private partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and the Ross Development Trust, aims to create space for all in the city centre with improved accessibility, dynamic architectural designs and innovative facilities.
Results of the public consultation, held throughout November 2019, show that of the 1,077 respondents, more than two thirds (68%) are supportive of proposed changes to the gardens.
A key aspect of the proposals is the introduction of a Welcome Centre which will provide an improved central, safe and compliant access point, new and accessible toilets, a café and lift access.
In response to the public consultation, 68% said they supported the plans for the Welcome Centre strongly or with some reservations.
The design proposals, developed by a team of internationally renowned architects led by wHY and including Edinburgh-based Gras, also include a redevelopment of the dilapidated Ross Bandstand and amphitheatre.
74% of respondents endorsed plans for a small number of major events being held in the improved gardens to subsidise year-round community use of the bandstand replacement.
89.7% of those who completed the consultation online or at one of 11 face-to-face information sessions across the city are Edinburgh residents. 74% of the total number of respondents answered that they would visit the gardens the same amount or more after the transformation of the city centre greenspace.
Respondents also represented a cross-section of the city’s population, with a relatively even spread of age groups, from 15% of the 1,077 those taking part in the 25-34 age bracket, 18.1% aged 35-44, 19.2% in 45-54, 19.1% in 55-64, and 17.1% aged 65 and over.
The Quaich Project also ran a dedicated youth consultation in tandem with the main public consultation, seeking the views of 8-17 year-olds.
Participants had the opportunity to have a say on the designs, naming of facilities and possible activities for the gardens. 214 young people took part, 78% of which said they’d be likely to visit West Princes Street Gardens more often if there was somewhere to eat and drink. 83% also said they would visit the gardens more after the proposed changes are made.
David Ellis, Managing Director at The Quaich Project, said: ““The results of the public consultation on the designs have been incredibly encouraging. As the product of four years’ of engagement with stakeholders and the people of Edinburgh, the designs presented at the most recent public consultation will transform West Princes Street Gardens, making it more accessible, open and useful for all.”
He added: “While the results of the consultation are positive, we appreciate that – as with any proposal of a similar scale – some people still have reservations. West Princes Street Gardens is a place for everyone to enjoy, so feedback from the public consultation will feed into the further development of plans.
“We believe that West Princes Street Gardens has the potential to be one of the best public spaces in the world, and we thank everyone who took part in the consultation for their input and contribution to make that vision a reality.”
The Quaich Project, along with its architects and designers, will take feedback on board and refine plans before presenting them back to the public in Spring 2020.