Cargo bikes to support deliveries and special vouchers for local shops are part of a £2.4m package of Support for Business measures helping local traders along the Trams to Newhaven route.
Work started in Constitution Street and Leith Walk on 18 November and the Council's Trams to Newhaven project team has been working very closely with local traders to maintain the appeal and vibrancy of the area.
Customers buying a specially commissioned £5 itison voucher can redeem £10 worth of goods in participating businesses, with the scheme now up and running in 19 businesses in and around Constitution Street, including shops, bars and restaurants. Vouchers were launched in November and the initial allocation sold out within four days. Since then additional vouchers have been made available, including extending the offer to businesses on Queen Charlotte Street, Bernard Street and Assembly Street. A second campaign will launch in January for Constitution Street area businesses, helping to drive footfall and generate revenue during a month where businesses often see a post-Christmas drop in trade.
The voucher initiative is the first such scheme itison has run. It will be rolled out to other businesses along the route from Picardy Place to Newhaven as the construction programme progresses to other areas, with vouchers to be made available for Leith Walk businesses from spring 2020.
Additional business support
Alongside the itison scheme, the project has launched its own multimedia 'open for business' campaign to promote Constitution Street to residents and visitors as a place to eat, drink, shop and spend time, with ads running on social media throughout the works, wayfinding signage, in-shop promotion and street art all part of the marketing drive. This is in addition to the businesses' own #strongconstitution digital campaign, which the project is also helping to promote.
A logisitics hub - one of five that will be established across the new tram route - has been set up in Mitchell Street to help businesses manage deliveries and dispatches, as well as assisting residents with bulky deliveries, while on-street customer service staff are on hand to provide advice and support.
Measures to keep the area clean and attractive are under way or planned through street art, busking points, window washing for worksite-facing businesses and a dedicated full-time street cleaner to keep things spick and span.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said:
"We're doing as much as we can to help the businesses along the tram route while works are ongoing - we know it's a challenging time and we share their desire to maintain the attractiveness and vibrancy of the area between now and the day trams begin running to Newhaven. I'd like to thank all the businesses whose vital feedback on what help and support would benefit them most has directly informed our Support for Business plans and we continue to work together to make sure everyone is taking advantage of the opportunities on offer. I'd also encourage residents from all over the city to show their support for the fantastic range of shops, cafes and bars in and around Constitution Street.
"This is a time of significant transformation for Edinburgh and the tram project is one of the major drivers of the carbon-free, connected and accessible future we are working hard to achieve for the Capital. It's an absolutely pivotal moment for the city and we need to do everything we can to get this right for Edinburgh - for today's residents, and for generations of residents to come."
PROJECT PROGRESS UPDATE
The first phase of works got under way on 18 November 2019.
Work so far on Constitution Street has included planing of the road surface and digging slit trenches to confirm the location of utility services in the ground. In addition, the road has begun to be excavated in order to create the space for the tram track to be laid.
Works on Leith Walk have included trial holes being dug to confirm the location of utility services and the ongoing establishment of a city-bound running lane.
Archaeological work has just started, under the supervision of the City Archaeologist. Monitoring of test trenching has unearthed artefacts dating back to the 16th or 17th centuries. In one of the trenches the archaeologists have discovered a piece of whale bone, a rare discovery in Leith. The main archaeological excavations in Constitution Street are expected to start in early 2020.
Planning permission and listed building consent have both been granted to take down the graveyard wall at the A-listed South Leith Parish Church, which is in a poor state of repair and needs to be reinforced before being rebuilt in the same location. The statue of Robert Burns will also be deconstructed and refurbished by specialist monument experts before it's returned to Constitution Street as part of an improved public realm at a later stage in the project. Work on taking down both the wall and statue is anticipated to take place in the final weeks of 2019.