Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is one of the most iconic streets in Scotland, with Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace at the other. In 1723 Daniel Defoe described it as:-
“The largest, longest and finest street for Buildings and Number of Inhabitants, not only in Britain, but in the World…”
Today, the Royal Mile is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, pubs and historical monuments, as well as forming a major focal point for the annual Edinburgh Festival, however reviews may not be quite as fanciful – council leaders have admitted parts of the thoroughfare have become “dreadful” to visit.
The Mile has become a series of poorly maintained congested spots, overrun with ‘tartan tat’ as well as being a victim to the endemic problem of high street closures, with several units lying empty.
Aside from being one of the capitals most popular tourist spots, the importance of the Mile must also be recognised from the point of view the people, the families, who reside there – for many the street has become a place to ‘negotiate’ rather than live, work or grow-up in.
In response, councillors, experts and community members met yesterday to debate the Royal Mile’s revival, in a charette chaired by Diarmaid Lawlor, Head of Urbanism at A&DS.
Some of the measures proposed include a “spring clean” initiative to try to remove graffiti and unnecessary clutter as well as tidy up rundown closes; increased pedestrianisation; stricter controls over the lease of shop units from the council; and limiting the through-flow of traffic including bus tours.
The Royal Mile Charette process demonstrates a simple methodology of successful placemaking in a wider context:-
the need to harness political support (and ultimately accountability);
the development of a simple mandate through public forum and collaboration, in particular from the communities living within;
to translate the mandate into a series of actions over the short and long term, and to
implement the short term measures quickly and use these as the catalyst to drive the ongoing process of improvement and long term measures
Mission to make Edinburgh’s Royal Mile fit for a king (The Scotsman)
Businesses, locals and experts thrash out Royal Mile action plan (STV)
Improved Royal Mile suggested (Herald Scotland)