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Submitted by Editor on

Frustration about Picardy Place congestion and the charmless new ‘Fantasy Island’ at its centre ignited on social media over the weekend.

Over 50k X users viewed Spurtle’s brief attempt at positive thinking and later observation that sitters in the space are obliged to face outwards towards the traffic rather than inwards towards some unimaginative planting.

In the frustration that followed, several people asked for reminders about how we came to end up with this deeply disappointing blot on the city’s public realm.

Below, we link to some of Spurtle’s coverage of the issues over the last 14 years. Some may dispute whether it's  a complete or authoritative account, but it's certainly an authentic version of how events were perceived by individuals and community associations from the bottom up.

For additional source material at the time, we refer readers to Picardy Place Redesign at

Now, for all our careful qualifications above, what emerges is the clear sense that, from the start, problems here were entirely predictable and repeatedly predicted. What also emerges is that public and private-sector 'planners' (loosely defined) had a pre-existing agenda from which little deviation was ever to be seriously considered, regardless of promises  made to Edinburgh residents and voters.

No wonder so maNy locals regard the Picardy Place we see today as an ugly stain on this city's streetscape and ON the effective application of planning democracy.


Intimations first emerged in May 2017.

Perry on the St James Quarter: Director of Development briefs locals, 24.5.17.

Spurtle did some digging and found that outline plans for a three-way junction had been posited as early as July 2009.

Picardy Place – What little we know, 1.6.17. 

Spurtle was alarmed by confirmed plans for a huge gyratory in August 2017. For the first time, we voiced concerns that proposals had been stitched up behind the scenes for a long time, and that public consultation on them would prove illusory and fruitless.

Picardy Place plans at last: Time to resist gigantic gyratory, 16.8.17. 

A one-way information event was announced in September.

Picardy place is changing: whether you like it or not, 14.9.17. 

Council U-turns on bad plans and flawed prices

Picardy Place reactions, 2.20.17.

Edinburgh Council’s Executive Director of Place met locals in October. He described plans for the area as ‘not perfect but an optimal compromise’. He conceded that, by the terms of the GAM deal, the Council was hamstringed in any effort to back out of the gyratory.

Picardy Place in the spotlight: Lawrence meets local in lively discussion, 10.10.17 

ZONE Architects offered two counter-proposals later that month.

Time for T on Picardy Place? 13.10.17.

Picardy Place counter-proposal, 25.10.17. 

Dr Scott Arthur (later to become Convener of the Council's Transport & Environment Committee) mentioned Spurtle coverage of the issues in his blog post on 2 December. Council design concessions were like putting lipstick on a pig … it was still a pig.

The Picardy Place predicament – place, movement or both? 2.12.17

Opponents of the gyratory formalised their case in early December.

Picardy Place manifesto launched. 6.12.17.

In December, former Planning Convenor Trevor Davies offered this illuminating account of how unresolved conflicts around uses allowed traffic engineers to seize control of the space.

The long view on Picardy Place, 8.12.17.


In January 2018, supposedly ‘key revisions’ responding to public concerns emerged in a 34-page report to the Transport & Environment Committee.

 Final plans for Picardy Place? 19.1.18.

The latest plans drew measured but deeply critical comment from ‘big hitters’ in a joint campaign.

Quiet, considered, politely damning, 24.1.18.

Councillors on the Transport & Environment Committee overwhelming voted in favour of a gyratory.

Oh joy, it’s a gyratory, 25.1.18.

Picardy Place – What went wrong and how do we fix it? 8.2.18, 

Some minor concessions followed in March. T&E Convenor Lesley Macinnes said, unconvincingly, ‘It is sometimes difficult to fully envisage what designs can bring in reality but the end results will, I hope, truly deliver for local residents and everyone else who will visit this lovely part of Edinburgh.’

Picardy Place plans now nailed down, 18.4.18.


A curious hush.


In January 2020, a general commitment to public engagement in the design of the central island was agreed Details and timeframe were unclear.

Public’s ideas sought on Picardy Place island. 10.1.20.  

Locals discussed aspirations for the island, amid rising scepticism about Council’s willingness or ability to respond.


No news not necessarily good news.


What next for Picardy Place? 26.1.22.

By September, it had become apparent that – as most observers had long suspected – Council consultation on the future island’s design was meaningless.

Picardy Place consultation shambles, 1.9.22.


Not for the first time, 'final' plans (not yet fully realised) were announced.

Pie-in-the-sky island crash lands at last, 1.6.23

With the final design now in place, Spurtle tried to exercise sunshine, poetry and positive thinking.

Sunshine on Picardy, 14.12.23.

– before noting that users of the space were forced to face traffic.

An interesting feature, 15.12.23