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The Causey: Transforming a place
by Isobel Leckie
Secretary, Causey Development Trust
The Causey project consists of the potential transformation of the street, West Crosscauseway, and its traffic island, in the Edinburgh Southside Conservation area, from its existing vehicle dominance into a fine public place that prioritises people’s health and wellbeing, and encourages active travel.
14 years ago, Alison Blamire of Arcade Architects, as part of the Six Cities’ Design Festival, with volunteers created an event transforming the street into a Tropical Island for three days. The intention of the event was to highlight how our streets have prioritised vehicle movement at the expense of health, wellbeing, neighbourliness, heritage and community. Local people and visitors immediately saw the street’s potential as a place for people and the charity Causey Development Trust emerged with a steering group of local people.
Local engagement and consultation
Subsequently, with Ideas Workshops, consultation, exhibitions, and community events, 50 in all, Causey Development Trust, with input from Ironside Farrar Landscape Architects, has delivered a design which better meets the need of residents, businesses and the local community.
The street becomes a pleasant link to green places like Holyrood Park and The Meadows and a respite from the bustling Nicolson Street. The design adds mandatory cycle lanes, wider pavements, reduced traffic flow and speed to encourage active travel. It also creates a new public space encouraging neighbourliness, supporting wellbeing and hosting appropriate community events. It highlights the heritage of the street – one of the earliest paved, or causey’d streets in Edinburgh – and respects its surrounding historic buildings. There are at least 60 A listed buildings within a 10 minute walk from the Causey.
A cleaner, healthier environment
In 2007 the damage to our health from vehicle emissions, and the detriment to every day walking and cycling from vehicle dominance was uppermost in our thinking as well as the disadvantage experienced by non car owners. Our need for a cleaner, less polluted environment is now more pressing than ever and the reduction in vehicle movement proposed in the design supports this. CDT regularly promotes Clean Air Day Scotland at The Causey.
Support from others
The Causey project enjoys support from Edinburgh University, Edinburgh World Heritage, Scottish Civic Trust, Living Streets Scotland, Living Streets Edinburgh and The City of Edinburgh Council. Next steps are to work with Sustrans and City of Edinburgh Council to deliver the capital works necessary for this transformation.
In the intervening 15 years, and most urgently in Covid19 times, the need for our City’s streets to be designed for more, safer, walking, wheeling and cycling is more urgent than ever and is evidenced in the City’s plans for City Centre Transformation, City Mobility Plan and Low Emission Zone and desire for 20-minute neighbourhoods. The Causey project aligns with all of these.
Alison sadly died far too young. We’ve carried on with her inspiration because the need for better streets for people, as Covid 19 shows, is greater every day. Uniquely, The Causey is an exemplar of community regeneration for transforming urban spaces for people and a model for engaging a local community in a pro-active process instead of just constantly complaining about what’s wrong or missing.
Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative (ECSC) : How it all begun
by Dr Johanna Carrie*
I hope that many of you will have heard of the Edinburgh Community Solar Coop . Now it has more than 500 members, PV on at least 30 city-owned roofs, and the electricity generated makes a welcome contribution to cutting the city’s carbon emissions.
I am not writing to give details of the Solar Coop as it is now, but rather to share how it started.
In 2007 Mark Lazarowicz, then MP for Leith, saw the wind turbines offshore of that city when travelling home from Copenhagen. He thought ‘We could do that’. He brought together a group of people, most local to North Edinburgh and shared his vision.
I joined that group early, although not right at the start. The original idea was wind turbines in the Forth to contribute to the energy supply to new housing on the waterfront and in the Granton area. Then in 2008, the financial crash hit. The housing development was not about to happen. Plans had to be changed. A member of the group worked for E4A. E4A is a social enterprise that assists communities in setting up electricity generation projects. He suggested we consider solar power. That proposal was taken to Andrew Burns, then leader of the council. Further discussion gave us permission to install PV panels on 24 city-owned buildings, mainly schools. E4A worked with us to produce a share offer. People brought shares, providing the capital for the project. These members earn a dividend, but the Solar Coop earns enough to have a community benefit fund. The Solar Coop has had a successful second share offer.
North Edinburgh Arts are one of the recipients of the Community benefit fund. They are thriving and currently considering the potential of a local cluster of district heating infrastructure, which may become part of a citywide heat network scheme.
Small beginnings can grow to make a difference in moving the city towards Net Zero.
*Dr Johanna Carrie is a Trustee of Our Future Edinburgh, a Transition Edinburgh Steering Group member, and lead activist in Fairmilehead Energy Hub. She was a board member of the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative as well as a former board member of Harlaw Hydro. Johanna has been interested in sustainability since the 1970s and she is passionate about energy issues. She enjoys the company of her nine grandchildren and is delighted to have two little great-grandchildren. Saving our climate is for their futures.
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Our Future Edinburgh is a registered Scottish Charity (SC051287)