Holyrood Park is one of Edinburgh’s biggest assets.
It is home to Arthur’s Seat, hosts many public events – including a screening of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in 2022 – and welcomes millions of people each year.
But roads through the 650 acre space are also busy routes for motorists in the capital.
These roads already close during the weekends, but a new public consultation into the park suggests they could be restricted more often, or shut all together.
However, transport experts have raised concerns that such a move, especially at a time where measures such as a low emission zone are coming into force in the capital, could only serve to move congestion to other areas of the city.
Holyrood Park is managed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which has launched the consultation.
Documents detailing suggestions from HES on how to optimise the space state: “Steps will be implemented to very substantially reduce, or remove all, vehicular through traffic from the park to significantly reduce conflict between users and vehicles and improve the quality of user experience in the park.”
HES ranger and visitor services Manager Martin Gray said: “There’s a number of proposals across a broad spectrum of areas across the park, the roads is one but there’s stuff around landscape, there’s stuff around facilities, there’s stuff around access in general.
“We’ve made a suggestion around the fact that we would like to see the park have less vehicles in it, and that be in the format of some further restriction on access for physical vehicles but not necessarily for other people by other means.”
This consultation is set to run until December and a full strategic plan is expected some time in 2024.
But the proposals on traffic have certainly garnered the most attention, due to the roads through the park being a popular cut-through for many motorists.
There’s concern that if these routes were to close it would cause issues as traffic is displaced, especially during rush-hour commutes.
Neil Greig, a policy advisor at the transport charity ‘IamRoadSmart’, said such a move would be “very short-sighted”.
“These are busy roads, they’re used all the time, they’re very easy access to different parts of the city, they provide options for traffic during major events for example,” he said.
“There are lots of other things they could be doing that could keep the park open and also still allow the cars to access as well.
“It’s always been difficult to drive around Edinburgh, these proposals just add to that.”
Historic Environment Scotland say they’ve had a positive response so far to the consultation and are set to hold a number of public engagement events before it closes.
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