Future of the High Street summary report

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Summary Report

Future of the high street


Contents

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Project Overview

07 08 10 12 15 16 18 20 22 24 26 34 36 37

Project Team Advisory Board Data, Design, Collaboration Timeline: Aims, Methods, Outputs Project Process Collaborative Evaluation Project Summary - In Numbers Key Project Questions Overall Findings: High Street Challenges/Opportunities Overall Findings: Pilots Outputs Decision-making Diagram Lessons Learned Future Perspectives

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Engagement 40 42 44 54 58 62 66 70

Overview Co-design Reflections Digital Tools Survey and Workshop Findings: Challenges Survey and Workshop Findings: Opportunities Gorgie Dalry Pilot Dalkeith Pilot Toolkit of 6 Ideas for High Street Tweaks


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Public Life Studies

86 Gorgie-Dalry Baseline Public Life Study 102 Dalkeith Baseline Public Life Study 118 Pilot Impact - Comparative Analysis

“Streets and their sidewalks - the main public places of the city - are its most vital organs” - Jane Jacobs


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Project Overview: 07 08 10 12 15 16 18 20 22 24 26 34 36 37

Project Team Advisory Board Data, Design, Collaboration Timeline: Aims, Methods, Outputs Project Process Collaborative Evaluation Project Summary - In Numbers Key Project Questions Overall Findings: High Street Challenges/Opportunities Overall Findings: Pilots Outputs Decision-making Diagram Lessons Learned Future Perspectives


Project Overview The ‘Future of the High Street’ was a collaborative project involving digital engagement, placemaking and rapid prototyping on two Edinburgh region high streets, to test ideas addressing local business and built environment challenges. The project adopted an open project process, aiming to share findings about both the piloted potential solutions to high street challenges, as well as the project process combining data and design with a broader audience. This was done through monthly blogs and films, a webinar and research paper. The Future of the High Street project was led by the Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with New Practice architects, the Edinburgh Living Lab and Data Driven Innovation initiative. The project is part of The University of Edinburgh’s ‘Design Lab’ — funded by the Scottish Funding Council. It was one of 4 demonstrator projects exploring how a collaborative data-and-design approach can address key contemporary challenges and deliver positive impact. It follows on from the Edinburgh Futures Institute Smart Places series of events in 2020.

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Over the course of 6 months, project ‘Future of the High Street’ (Jan-July 2021) combined citizen engagement and co-design with rapid prototyping, urban data and research.

the high street was used, its vibrancy, footfall and desirability as a place to visit and spend time, as well as 72 user experience interviews with residents and businesses.

The aim? To better understand key high street challenges and opportunities, and pilot two small-scale ‘tweaks’ with potential to support the high street as a successful, vibrant and liveable place as we emerge from Covid-19.

In Gorgie-Dalry, project legacy involves liaison with the local authority to delivery of a number of permanently installed benches in strategic high street locations (informed via project insights) to support public life and accessibility. In Dalkeith, ongoing legacy involves development of a Tactical Urbanism Kit, hosted/operated by a local organisational partner as a lending library of open-source CNC-milled outdoor furniture to support town centre social, economic and cultural activity.

A Toolkit of 6 ideas for these ‘high street tweaks’ was developed through conversations, surveys and digital co-design workshops with businesses, residents and organisations from two high street project locations - Gorgie/Dalry in Edinburgh and Dalkeith. Two ideas were selected to be rapidly prototyped, piloted and evaluated on-site. The team worked with local stakeholders to consider the unique context of these two high street locations, and the specific challenges and opportunities a pilot should respond to. We used two comparative Public Life Studies to evaluate the impact of these pilots on the way

Throughout the project we aimed to openly share our findings and learnings, via blogs, films, webinars and advisory board sessions. This is also the intent of this report, which we hope contains elements that may be of use to a variety of professionals and high street stakeholders going forward.


Project Team

Project Delivered by:

The project was unique in combining research and practice, with design outcomes genuinely responsive to data-driven insights and stakeholder engagement. The partnership and collaboration between a project team comprising University of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute and architects New Practice was critical to this. Extract from project team blog | Jan 2021

Overall project management, as well as research and data-driven insights were primarily led by the Project Lead and small team within the Edinburgh Futures Institute at the University of Edinburgh. This included blogs, films and research papers reflecting on and openly documenting the project process, public life studies to input spatial insights into project decision-making and support pilot impact assessment, and in developing a ‘Collaborative Evaluation’ approach to understanding project and pilot ‘success’. New Practice led engagement and piloting, working closely with diverse stakeholders through digital co-design workshops, youth activities and a co-design process to refine and build pilots. Collaboration between this interdisciplinary team provided a mix of skills and experiences to support the project.

With support from: Edinburgh Living Lab

Edinburgh Living Lab


Advisory Board

Advisory Board

The Future of the High Street’s Advisory Board provided a collaborative, supportive space to share the project process, as well as others’ work and best practice on this topic. Board members were invited due to their experience and expertise in either: • The two specific high street places the project focussed on (Gorgie/Dalry in Edinburgh, and Dalkeith in Midlothian), and/or • Cross-cutting broader themes relating to high street and retail vitality, digital placemaking, co-design and prototyping for the built environment, or using data and design approaches to address place-based challenges and work collaboratively toward possible solutions. Each of the 6 monthly one hour sessions focused on a different theme - relevant to the project work currently underway or in development. These included presentations and discussions on themes including: • • • • • • 8

Digital Engagement during a Pandemic High Street Challenges/Opportunities Co-design Evolving business models & economic activity Evaluation and Public Life Studies Piloting Future Possibilities

“The project has been great to step into on a monthly basis and the generosity of the project speaks to me. So many projects are undertaken for the purpose of the narrow output and then lost. Whereas this project is about inspiring and enabling many others to follow - in a spirit of generosity and humanity.”

Jo Morrison, Calvium, the Association of Collaborative Design and UK High Streets Task Force

“I’ve enjoyed seeing the value of creating evidence-based prototypes in testing and evaluating the impact of small-scale changes to the high street.” Dr Matthew Jones, Birmingham School of Architecture and Design


Thoughts from the Advisory Board


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Data and Design

Collaboration

The Future of the High Street project collected new data, as well as reviewing and incorporating existing urban data. For example, to input into the initial project stages during January and February 2021, a series of baseline datasets were collected about Gorgie/Dalry high street and Dalkeith town centre. These included land use, character and facade studies of these two high streets, the types of businesses present, their opening hours and status during lockdown. These studies help provide context and understanding about the current status of these high streets.

The project also took a deliberately collaborative and open approach more broadly - with more partners, organisations and stakeholders invited to become involved as the project progressed.

A large number of existing reports and previous consultation summaries were also reviewed and distilled into the key challenges and opportunities identified for both high streets. This was important to respect both this prior work and citizen time and input that had already gone before, and allowed the online survey for this project to put forward our understanding of current high street challenges/opportunities for review and priority ranking, rather than starting from scratch again. In addition to all the qualitative data gathering during the engagement process, evaluation of the pilots is another key way data integrated into this project. Two baseline Public Life Studies were conducted in May for both Gorgie/ Dalry high street and Dalkeith town centre. Another was completed in June with prototype pilots in situ to allow comparison of impact on footfall, dwell time, interviews about place quality etc. Through robustly evaluating pilots, we gained valuable insights as to what worked and lessons learnt, as well as an evidence base to understand whether the pilots might be helpful for other high streets.

Monthly Advisory Boards included 35 representatives from 18 relevant organisations across Scotland and beyond - from the Scottish Government and Connected Places Catapult to UK High Streets Task Force, as well as key organisations relevant to the two local project locations (e.g. City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils), and other practitioners/leaders in this field - (e.g. Calvium, CoLab Dudley and Scotland’s Towns Partnership). This allowed us to build a professional community of interest around this topic, share best practice and learnings, forge connections and relationships, and discuss and seek input on the live project process. 7 advisory board meetings featured 11 presentations of members’ diverse knowledge/ work and 10 project team presentations. 7 monthly project blogs, 28 project team diary extracts, 6 short films and 1 webinar publicly shared project activities, findings and activities - from ‘digital engagement during a pandemic’ to ‘jargon-busting: data and co-design’. These opened a wider dialogue resulting in additional informal collaborations. Open-source project outputs (e.g. Public Life Studies, Toolkit of 6 Ideas, Project Report) extended this collaborative ‘working out loud’ approach - sharing the most requested and useful insights helpful to other professionals and organisations, including the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Data and Design Lab’.


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March How can we build on residents’ and businesses’ in-depth lived experience of key high street challenges and opportunities to reflect on emerging findings? And how can we work together to explore the feasibility, desirability and potential benefit of possible ‘high street tweaks’ to include in the toolkit and decide to test in June?

Timeline: Page Header Aims, Goes Here Methods, Outputs

We did this via:

Question/Aim

February

January What is the current status of the high street? And how can we best foster collaboration with others?

Methods / Outputs

To explore this, we:

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• Conducted high street facade, land use and character studies to provide baseline datasets, and reviewed previous local consultation reports for our two high street project locations. • Invited representatives from 20+ relevant organisations to monthly Advisory Board sessions. This allowed us to build a professional community of interest around this topic, share best practice and learnings, forge connections and relationships, and discuss and seek input on the live project process. • We started to prepare communications and engagement materials for local stakeholders.

How can we best use a remote and digital engagement approach to involve local high street stakeholders despite Covid-19 restrictions? This led to: • The High Street Tweak website as a digital ‘shop-front’ for local engagement with the project. • Conversations by email, phone, and social media with local high street organisations and businesses. • An online stakeholder survey via Survey Lab and digital participatory mapping to spatially locate key opportunities and challenges for the high street based on lived experience.

• 7 digital co-design workshops using Whereby, Zoom and Miro, and 2 outdoor youth engagement activities (involving prototyping and Google Earth fly-throughs), as well as interviews, conversations and discussions with other stakeholders. • Developing a ‘Collaborative Evaluation’ approach to guide active project decisionmaking based on a collective understanding of what ‘success’ would look like. We developed 5 indicators or principles, incorporating both project aims and stakeholder perspectives expressed at workshops, advisory board meetings and project discussions. These were: » Open Learning and Collaboration » Meaningful Contribution » Professional Exchange » Local Participation » Critical Reflection


June How can we pilot and prototype - at a small scale, achievable on our project timescales - two of the ‘high street tweaks’ that best respond to the context of the two project locations? How can we understand if they were successful? How can we support project legacy?

April How can we openly share our learning and findings? We did this by: • Throughout the project, 7 monthly project blogs, 28 project team diary extracts, 6 short films and 1 webinar publicly shared project activities, findings and activities - from ‘digital engagement during a pandemic’ to summaries of ‘challenges and opportunities for the high street’ and ‘jargon-busting: data and codesign’. • In addition, 6 ideas for ‘high street tweaks’ were visualised and presented as an open source booklet of small scale ideas to deliver meaningful impact for high streets. These collaboratively developed ideas responded directly to project findings.

May How can we create a useful, shareable, baseline dataset resource giving insights into how people are currently spending time or moving around the high street? How can we design this so that we can also use it comparatively to evaluate pilot impact in June? We achieved this via: • 2 Public Life Studies of the two project high street locations. These provide a robust baseline dataset of the current public life and user experience of these two high streets, including footfall, stationary activity, pedestrian movement and place quality research.

• The most promising two ‘high street tweak’ ideas were rapidly prototyped, piloted and evaluated on-site. These aimed to produce some immediate benefit for high street businesses and the high street more holistically as a place, whilst exploring potential for longerterm adaptation, resilience or improvement. • Two comparative Public Life Studies evaluated pilot impact on high street usage, vibrancy, footfall and desirability as a place to visit and spend time through direct observation research and 72 user experience interviews. These found an increase in public life and improved perception of the high street as a place to spend time.

Future Perspectives Ongoing project legacy was established by setting out a framework of aims, intent and resources enabling New Practice to continue working alongside key local stakeholders to deliver permanent iterations of the TUK and bench seating beyond project end. This increased impact and also helped mitigate challenges of timescales to enable a more embedded co-design process, and secure planning permissions.


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Project evaluation Open Learning • learn how high streets can better serve local community • share ideas and learnings with other professionals and high street stakeholders • generate new datasets that can benefit other organisations For example, the baseline Public Life Study datasets (for pilot comparative analysis), and this report, have been made publicly available and learnings shared with local stakeholders. Local Participation • inclusive digital engagement • stakeholders have input in the design process • provide space for diverse perspectives • pay attention to who is missing For example, at both pilots local businesses and organisations were involved in pilots (e.g. via high street window illustration and co-locating benches in Gorgie-Dalry, discussion with adjacent business owners and organisational stakeholders in both locations) and resident engagement on the day. Professional Exchange • fostering new working relationships • learning from each other within the project team, advisory board and beyond • share knowledge about best practice • lay the grounds for future collaboration

For example: Pilot learnings have been shared publicly. Pilots fostered new relationships and collaborations. Meaningful Contribution • participants learn from each other and as part of the project • positive effect on local businesses • contribution to long-term success of high streets • help make high streets appealing as destinations For example, pilot legacy of permanent benches (Gorgie-Dalry) and realised, operational Tactical Urbanism Kit (Dalkeith) hosted by local partner. Window illustrations and additional seating providing rest stops for users on the day of the pilot in Gorgie-Dalry. Critical Reflection • dynamic and creative response to changing circumstances • reflecting on the decision-making process • consider what worked well and lessons learnt • sharing findings For example, via project team reflections on lessons learned shared via monthly blogs, a research paper, and ‘backward flow diagram’ exploring the influence of different insights and engagement in decision-making leading to pilots.


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We received many compliments for the illustration and on at least one occasion someone popped in because they noticed the lovely drawing in the window. Displaying local creativity is crucial, as it personalises the small business and brings it closer to the customer. It also helps distinguish independent businesses from larger chains, for whom priorities lie outside of maintaining the community spirit. For this reason we also display artwork from local artists. Wonderful project, definitely generated interest in people and was lovely to look at!

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These contributions have been documented and synthesised in the middle band of this table, grouped under 5 Key Indicators of project success listed in the outside band. These criteria are not a conclusive list, however: they serve as a means for sharing the processes of evaluation that developed among the project team and participants for others to learn from, adapt, improve or critique in the ongoing collaborative work to improve UK high streets.

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In order to reflect on and learn from this process, the metrics for overall project evaluation have been drawn from the priorities, concerns, values and queries voiced by participants through the techniques for collaboration described on the opposite page.

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Evaluation must be an ongoing and collaborative process for co-design to work successfully: meetings, discussions and workshops serve as space for participants to share and debate their visions of what a successful project should ‘look like’.


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part-time 6 month employee positions created / fixed term contracts extended to form the University project team delivering this work.

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main collaborating consultancy (New Practice) given work as part of this project.

prototype benches from one pilot day were gifted to a local volunteer organisation for immediate reuse.

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‘high street tweak’ pilots tested on site in June with permanent legacy being established with local partners.

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high street hospitality businesses benefited from window illustration, illustrated pen portraits and/ or sign-writing to support their marketing as part of pilots and/or a prize-draw recognising businesses’ time contributed to the project.

“We loved the illustrations done on our window. It still looks amazing. We’ve had lots of people commenting how lovely it is. Lots of people stop as they walk past to look at it. So nice to have someone spend time to put their artwork in the window. Would totally take part in this again.” CJ’s Cafe, Dalry Road, Edinburgh

Open Learning

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final publicly available report sharing findings about key challenges and opportunities for the future of the high street, and pilot impact.

short films openly communicating key project ideas and findings

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open source Public Life Studies datasets created for GorgieDalry and Dalkeith high streets in the Edinburgh city region

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Project Page Header Summary: Goes Here In Numbers

Meaningful Contribution

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public blogs sharing of the project process and learnings

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booklet sharing 6 ideas for ‘High Street Tweaks’ - small-scale interventions that would address key high street challenges, incorporating perspectives from local high street residents, businesses and organisations.

attendees at summary project webinar, including public Q&A


Professional Exchange advisory board members/ attendees, across 7 monthly board sessions, featuring 11 presentations from the project team and 9 activities sharing knowledge amongst attendees.

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upcoming book features this project

“Arising out of this project we (Midlothian Council planning) have made contact with University of Edinburgh geospatial team on their work on 20 minute neighbourhoods, and will be developing this further as we prepare our next Local Development Plan” Colin Davidson, Midlothian Council

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unique organisations were involved in the project advisory board (including Scottish Government, 3 local authorities, UK High Streets Task Force, Architecture & Design Scotland, Connected Places Catapult and other industry, businesses, organisations and universities).

1408 reads of project blogs

Critical Reflection

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Development and application of a ‘collaborative evaluation’ approach, that incorporates the project participant perspectives in setting principles and indicators for what ‘success’ should look like.

Local Participation

70 209 80 7 72 4 passers by engaged in facilitated discussion about pilots

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user interviews about the high street as part of Public Life Studies

businesses directly contacted via email/phone/ social media

digital co-design workshops, with an attendance of 20 people, including 8 businesses

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digital engagement tools tested and reflected on

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businesses directly engaged through pilot events

youth activities outside involving high street prototyping and engagement

research paper written reflecting on the project and its approach to co-design and ‘co-evaluation’

backward flow diagram communicating the decision-making process

“Your communication of the project through varying media and in a staged manner has been stellar. The project has been great to step into on a monthly basis [via the Advisory Board] and the generosity of the project speaks to me. So many projects are undertaken for the purpose of the narrow output and then lost. Whereas this project is about inspiring and enabling many others to follow - in a spirit of generosity and humanity.”

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other organisations have included discussion of the project in their own blogs

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monthly advisory board webinars with relevant UK-wide professionals including presentations and discussions

Dr Jo Marrison, Director of Digital Innovation and Research at Calvium, ‘Expert’ at High Streets Task Force and co-Director of the Association of Collaborative Design


Key Questions There were a number of key questions that the Future of the High Street project aimed to add some insight to. Some of these were clear from project outset, and some evolved and became apparent as the project developed. These were: • How can we identify the most pressing short and long-term challenges for the high street as a place and for its businesses? • How can we quickly test possible solutions, adaptations or tweaks to create opportunities out of these challenges, or at least mitigate them? • Can small-scale changes have a big impact by being nimble, responsive and targeted to key issues? • How can we combine place ‘data’ and collaborative ‘design’ to inform and improve outcomes? • How can we incorporate diverse perspectives so that the piloted ideas recognise different experiences of the high street? • How can we share our learnings so that these short term pilots can have longer term legacy? • Can small-scale changes to the built environment create meaningful improvement for the high street?

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How can we identify the most pressing short and long-term challenges for the high street as a place and for its businesses? How can we quickly test possible solutions, adaptations or tweaks to create opportunities out of these challenges, or at least mitigate them in some way? How can we share our learnings so that these short term pilots can have longer term legacy? Can small-scale changes to the built environment create meaningful improvement for the high street?


Overall Findings: High Street Challenges / Opportunities A core part of the Future of the High Street project involved developing an understanding of what current challenges for the high street are, and where there might be opportunities to make the high street a more liveable, accessible, vibrant and successful place. These summary findings are based on survey responses, conversations and workshops with businesses, organisations and residents local to the two project locations - Gorgie Dalry Road (an urban linear high street in Edinburgh) and Dalkeith town centre (a more consolidated high street in a town to the South-East of Edinburgh) in early 2021. In addition, general insights and common themes about challenges and opportunities for the high street are based on both these discussions as well as insights from our project advisory board and ongoing project discussions and dialogue.

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Common High Street Challenges

Overall Opportunities and Trends

• Uncertainty around Covid restrictions, social distancing requirements and consumer behaviour changes relating to the pandemic are making it hard for some businesses to remain viable, adapt and/or plan for the future. • Pre-existing logistical and financial challenges for businesses have been exacerbated by Covid. For example ownership/rent, business rates, licenses, insurance, contracts, planning, staff costs. • A need to improve the overall place quality of the high street’s public realm. In particular to make this a more attractive, inclusive, accessible and vibrant destination and place to spend time. Specific challenges relate to litter, maintenance, noisy traffic, a poor pedestrian environment and lack of vegetation. • Creatively reimagining and realising a different / alternative / better future for the high street. Rethinking what a high street is and how this can be created collaboratively whilst aligning with consumer and market demand.

• Improve the UX of the high street as a destination and public place. Particular demand for an increase in trees/planting and public seating to enhance accessibility and social meeting. • Improve walking/cycling infrastructure (cycle lanes, wide pavements, easy roadcrossing, bike parking) to support access to high street businesses. • Support exploration of alternative business models, community and flexible spaces. • Building on and strengthening local identity, supporting and increasing visibility of local makers and independent businesses. • High street businesses pivoted during lockdown to create alternative customer experiences / channels for supplying their goods and services. Can hybrid models of takeaway/sit-in hospitality, goods-collection services, and shops operating online/offline purchasing and local delivery be further built on? • Expand the high street’s offer to celebrate in-person experiences. People come to the high street for experiences, services or products they can’t get online. This behaviour was consolidated by Covid restrictions. How can this create new offers and high street business models?


Gorgie-Dalry Findings

Dalkeith Findings

Challenges • Business challenges due to changing Covid rules, reduced footfall and a need for more outdoor seating. • Pedestrian experience on the high street is not currently prioritised. • A desire to improve local shop frontages and the aesthetic of the high street. • Demand for more trees and greenery. • Lack of bike parking restricts potential customers’ ability to stop and shop. • Perceived lack of maintenance. Issues around dog fouling, fly-tipping, litter, street cleanliness, graffiti.

Challenges • Perceived run down appearance of buildings and public spaces. • Demand for greater variety of shops, cafés and spaces outside to spend time. • Finding appropriate and affordable business premises and infrastructure. • Demand for planting, green space, seating and other public realm improvements. • Demand for more street lighting.

Opportunities • How can we create ‘sticky places’ within the public realm that support public life and a vibrant high street destination? • Social and community spots to meet outside • Demand for improved aesthetics and user experience, including more greenery, seating areas, attractive building frontages. • Improvements supporting walking and cycling (wider pavements, easier road crossing, bike parking adjacent to business frontages, cycle lanes). • Better support and promotion of local small independent businesses • Build on the high street as the heart of Gorgie/Dalry’s strong local identity

Opportunities • More seating, planting, lighting, social spaces to make the high street more attractive as a destination/place to spend time and with a cared for aesthetic. • Supporting resilience and visibility of smaller independent shops, cafés, local producers. • A more varied high street offer, including coworking, community and cultural spaces. • Improved facilities and high street infrastructure (including clean accessible public toilet facilities).


Overall Findings: Pilots

This summary includes a brief overview of each pilot, it’s aim, result and impact. More detailed information about each pilot, and its impact, is available in sections 02 and 03 respectively.

Dalkeith: Tactical Urbanism Kit Aim: To explore demand for a Tactical Urbanism Kit, test out a number of these street furniture parts, and refine what plywood WikiHouse/Open Desk CNC plywood parts should be included to best support local businesses, organisations and resident groups using this to activate the town centre. Result: This one day weekend event extended wider public conversation, included hands-on demonstration of the assembly/deconstruction process, and tested several seating elements adjacent to high street frontages to test the impact of Tactical Urbanism Kit parts on public life, dwell time and usage. Pilot Impact: • User interviews showed the Tactical Urbanism Kit prototype furniture was seen as a positive change to the area, potentially attracting younger people, and improving the experience of older people and children visiting the high street. • Overall, interviewees scored the pilot’s positive impact on the aesthetic appeal of the high street relatively highly (average 3.6 out of 5). • Business owners in particular felt this provided useful temporary infrastructure

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for their clientele to sit and relax outside shops, or wait for their appointments. Whilst positive about the pilot, high street users felt there were bigger core issues for the high street (significant built environment renovation and improvements and a greater diversity of shops) that were beyond the scope of the pilot. Public life and dwell time increased, with observed numbers of people spending more than 5 minutes in public space on the high street increasing from 56% to 75% and from 28% to 54% in both research locations adjacent to the Tactical Urbanism Kit pilot. The Tactical Urbanism Kit parts provided a series of nodes of activity that increased public life in these localised spots.


Gorgie-Dalry: Prototype Seating and Business Illustration

Result: We tested prototype bench seating in three key spots along the high street chosen via our baseline Public Life Study, stakeholder surveys and stakeholder input, and two illustrators created live window illustrations and pen-portraits of local cafés and shops. Pilot Impact: • The majority of street interview respondents saw the pilots, especially the benches, as a positive element in the high street. They were valued as attractive spaces for social interaction and providing much needed rest spots for older people. • Dwell time with seating prototypes in place near Dalry Gait increased dwell time from an average less than 1 minute to up to 5 minutes, with the pilot seating actively used during that time. • Numbers of people engaging in public life and stopping to spend time on the high street adjacent to pilot seating and

illustration increased by 100% near Dalry Gait, and 43% near Orwell Terrace. The seating pilots received relatively high scores for improving people’s desire to visit the high street and stay for a longer time (average 3.0 out of 5) User-submitted overall place score for the high street increased 31% - from 5.2 in May to 6.8 in June with the pilot in situ - with other factors (weather, number of open shops) likely contributing to this as well as the pilot. The researcher-evaluated overall place quality score increased to 6.7 out of 10, from 5.5 adjacent to the pilots on Dalry Road near Orwell Terrace - the highest along the length of the high street. Place quality scores increased at all other pilot seating locations too - particularly for indicators relating to places to sit outside (increase of 100% in Dalry) and opportunities for conversation and recreation (50% increase) but also place quality as a whole. These increases contrasted the control locations along the high street where there was no significant change, indicating the pilots had a significant impact on overall place quality.

We received many compliments for the illustration and on at least one occasion someone popped in because they noticed the lovely drawing in the window. Displaying local creativity is crucial, as it personalises the small business and brings it closer to the customer. It also helps distinguish independent businesses from larger chains, for whom priorities lie outside of maintaining the community spirit. For this reason we also display artwork from local artists. Wonderful project, definitely generated interest in people and was lovely to look at! Justina, Chapter One Cafe

Aim: In Gorgie-Dalry the pilot aimed to create seating and spaces for outdoor socialising and rest to provide more ‘sticky places’ that encourage people to spend time in the public realm. We also wanted to find a way to creatively support and promote local businesses whilst improving the attractiveness of the built environment.


Outputs Key project outputs included: • Summarised findings about key challenges and opportunities for the future of the high street shared via blogs, films and final report. • A booklet sharing 6 ideas for ‘High Street Tweaks’ - small-scale interventions that would address key high street challenges, developed in collaboration with local high street residents, businesses and organisations through a co-design process. Available via the project website. • Two open source Public Life Studies datasets for Gorgie-Dalry and Dalkeith high streets in the Edinburgh city region. Emailed to interested local partners, including the local authority, and made publicly available via the website. • Two ‘high street tweak’ pilots tested on site in June - delivering immediate benefits whilst in situ and ongoing longer term legacy now being implemented. • Sharing of pilot impact learnings relevant for other high streets nationwide via the webinar, blogs and this report. • Sharing of the co-design and data-driven project process and learnings with other professionals via 7 blogs and 6 films. • 7 monthly advisory board webinars with relevant UK-wide professionals including presentations and discussions - sharing knowledge and building collaboration.

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7 monthly blogs featuring 28 project team diary extracts, 6 films and 1 webinar helped to document, reflect on and share the project process and working ‘out loud’


A summary film and 5 short monthly films documented and shared the project process.


A booklet of 6 ideas to tackle common high street challenges. These ‘high street tweaks’ are small scale interventions that could deliver meaningful impact. This openly shared resource was developed through digital co-design workshops, surveys and conversations with local businesses and other stakeholders in two high street project locations in/near Edinburgh. 28


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Footfall Stationary Activity and Dwell Time Business Activity Age+Gender Demographics 5

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A researchers were positioned at key locations across the high street. Locations were chosen based on insights around key areas of iinterest from the project’s public online stakeholder survey, insights from conversations with the local authority and 10 9 ensuring a balanced and varied distribution of 8 high street locations. 7 Research was conducted on the busiest day of 6 the week - Saturday, with the following research 5 activities taking place for 10 minutes each at 3 4 timeslots (9.30am, 12.30pm, 4pm) in each of 3 the 4 locations simultaneously:

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The same methodologies, techniques and Overall score 4.1 research team members were used to gather data in each location to ensure consistency. Each researcher was thoroughly briefed and trained in the methodology for each of the Public Life Study techniques and activities, and a descriptive prompt was added to researcher pack recording sheets so that the appropriate methodological detail could be double checked as needed on the day to ensure reliable results. This consistent and thorough research methodology provides an excellent baseline set of data, giving a clear picture of how the town centre high street is used by pedestrians and its current level and diversity of public life. This means that - in addition to the insights presented here - this method can be repeated in the future following any improvement works, piloting or other changes to the area to give a follow-up post-evaluation study for

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For more information and insights from the wider Future of the High Street project, please also see the summary project report.

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or less in indicators 1, 3 and 4 (due to heavy traffic and narrow pavements without drop kerbs), with all indicators scoring less than 6. Location A received average scores across all indicators, with the exception of indicator 9 which received an average score of 1.25.

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Report produced by Jenny Elliott, Shawn Bodden, Daniel Muñoz-Zech and Ben Murphy as part of EFI’s ‘Future of the High Street’ project.

Location B scored highest with a 7.9 average, and high scores (>7) across all but one indicator (3). Whilst location C was similarly high with an average score of 7.2, it received scores of >6 for all indicators. In Dalkeith for the May observations, location D ranked the lowest with an average score of 4.1. It scored 3

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9 This study was completed by the Edinburgh 8 Futures Institute as part of project ‘Future of 7 the High Street’ in 2021, funded by the Scottish Funding Council. This report includes6 analysis of data collected on Saturday 22 May 52021 in 4 Dalkeith town centre to provide a baseline 3 understanding of public life and how the high 2 street is currently used by pedestrians. 1

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The methodology was based on the approach advocated by the Gehl Institute, but has been tailored to fit the project context (for example including additional ‘business activity’ exercises), to test out use of digital software Procreate, and iteratively adapted and improved based on hands-on on-site experiences and learnings.

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Public Life Studies include a mix of direct I AY observation methodologies and interviews with ST passers-by (revealing their user experience of VING + CO O FM FORTof the high street). Together this Mmix - Qresearch UALITY O methods helps reveal both how the street environment currently functions in terms of public life, pedestrian movement and more C: Jarnac Court holistically as a place.

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These included research on: footfall 10 stationary activity Research Methodology dwell time 9 5 tracing studies business activity8 6 overall place quality 7 High St (East) 1 userD: experience interviews 12 at Tait St 2

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A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]

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A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

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A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021

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These research reports analysed 1 Jarnac Courtare using the howB: people high street 12 2 currently and any change with pilots 11 in-situ.

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

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Each of the four research locations within the high street are assessed individually by the team of researchers. A score out of 10 is decided based on observations and experiential qualities noted whilst in the field. A mean average score is then calculated for each of the four locations to accommodate consideration for different researchers’ experience of the high street at that location as a place. An average for the high street across all locations is also calculated.

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The overall place quality of the high street is assessed using an evaluation structure based on Jan Gehl’s ‘12 Quality Criteria’ (Cities for People, 2010). This place assessment framework is based on 12 criteria indicative of an environment conducive to public life.

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Public Life Study

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AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

A: Dalkeith High St (West)

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

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Overall Place Quality

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9.30AM

In addition, between timeslots, each researcher conducted semi-structured street interviews with passers-by, assessed each of the 4 research locations against Gehl’s 12 Quality Criteria for Public Life, and took notes on their user experience observations whilst on a ‘test walk’ along the whole high street.

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Footfall Stationary Activity and Dwell Time Business Activity Age+Gender Demographics

Two Public Life Studies of each high 61 street created open source datasets and research helpful to project partners, whilst providing an important baseline for pilot evaluation.

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Report produced by Jenny Elliott, Shawn Bodden, Daniel Muñoz-Zech and Ben Murphy as part of EFI’s ‘Future of the High Street’ project.

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A fully briefed team of 4 researchers were positioned at key locations across the high street. Locations were chosen based on insights around key areas of iinterest from the project’s public online stakeholder survey, insights from conversations with the local authority and ensuring a balanced and varied distribution of high street locations. 9.30AM 12NOON Research was conducted on the busiest day4PM of the week - Saturday, with the following research activities taking place for 10 minutes each at 3 timeslots (9.30am, 12.30pm, 4pm) in each of the 4 locations simultaneously:

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For more information and insights from the B GORGIE ROAD wider Future of the High Street project, please AT WHITE PARK also see the summary project report.

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lry

The same methodologies, techniques and research team members were used to gather data in each location to ensure consistency. Each researcher was thoroughly briefed and trained in the methodology for each of the Public Life Study techniques and activities, and a descriptive prompt was added to researcher pack recording sheets so that the appropriate methodological detail could be double checked as needed on the day to ensure reliable results. This consistent and thorough research methodology provides an excellent baseline set of data, giving a clear picture of how the town centre high street is used by pedestrians and its current level and diversity of public life. This means that - in addition to the insights presented here - this method can be repeated in the future following any improvement works, piloting or other changes to the area to give a follow-up post-evaluation study for

comparison. This was done on the Future of the High Street project - enabling us to check DALRY how pilot prototype seating and other elements ROAD AT influenced public life. DALRY GAIT

Da

This study was completed by the Edinburgh Futures Institute as part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ in 2021, funded by the Scottish Funding Council. This report includes analysis GORGIE AT collected on Saturday 22 May 2021 in ofROAD data SMITHFIELD STREET Dalkeith town centre to provide a baseline understanding of public life and how the high street is currently used by pedestrians.

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS AT 3 TIMESLOTS

The methodology was based on the approach advocated by the Gehl Institute, but has been tailored to fit the project context (for example including additional ‘business activity’ exercises), to test out use of digital software Procreate, and iteratively adapted and improved based on hands-on on-site experiences and learnings.

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Gorgie Dalry high street

Research Methodology

DALRY

ROAD AT Public Life Studies include a mix of direct DALRY GAIT observation methodologies and interviews with passers-by (revealing their user experience of the high street). Together this mix of research methods helps reveal both how the street environment currently functions in terms of public life, pedestrian movement and more holistically as a place.

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There was an under-representation of pedestrians observed being carried (e.g. in a sling or buggy), supported by a walking stick, or rolling using a wheelchair at the two Dalry Road locations and to a lesser degree along Gorgie Road. This may indicate a less accessible environment for these users at these locations. This is supported by prior Public Life Street Assessment (2017) data indicating a desire for more seating and reduced street clutter to improve the accessibility of the street in these locations.

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Footfall was highest at lunchtime on a Saturday at all locations along Gorgie-Dalry high street, with the exception of Gorgie Road at White Park where late afternoon was busier. Typically mornings were the quietest for footfall at all locations along the high street.

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The researcher stands with their back against a wall and counts the number of people walking past an imaginary line in front of them on the pavement on that side of the road over a 10 minute period.

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There is more footfall the further East along the high street you go, with Dalry Road slightly (x1.14) busier with pedestrian traffic than Gorgie Road and highest footfall at D. Footfall increased closer to the Haymarket and city centre end of the high street compared to the western Gorgie section of the high street.

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Key findings

Footfall information is helpful as higher footfall contributes to public life, the sense of a vibrant street environment, provides people watching opportunities and can also support adjacent businesses through increased visibility and commercial oppportunities. By also recording the number of pedestrians ‘supported’ using a wheelchair or stick, carried in a buggy or sling, ‘rolling’ via skateboard or scooter or jogging it is also possible to gain insights into how accessible the high street is for different users and pedestrian movement types.

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284 286 262is a What 238 Public Life Study?

Overview:

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NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS AT 3 TIMESLOTS

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Mean daytime footfall (pedestrians/hour)

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Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Project and pilot evaluation framework: ‘co-designing evaluation’ shared via blogs and a research paper

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Pilots on two high streets prototyped two small-scale high street tweak ideas- testing and discussing these with stakeholders on-site and evaluating their impact on public life - to feed into location and refinement of their legacy.

Tactical Urbanism Kit prototype, Dalkeith


Seating prototypes aiming to improve public life and high street accessibility were tested in 3 locations along Gorgie-Dalry high street. 32


Window illustration and business portrait illustration was piloted to support local businesses’ marketing. - Gorgie-Dalry high street


Design Decisions Where did the Future of the High Street project come from? • Edinburgh Futures Institute’s ‘Smart Places’ workstream and event series 2020. • ‘Future of the High Street’ is one of a number of ‘demonstrator projects’ funded by the Scottish Funding Council as part of the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Data and Design Lab’. • Project aims, approach and deliverables set out in the project proposal developed by the Project Lead in EFI - shaped by previous experience and funding aims.

This ‘backward flow diagram’ reflects on how stakeholder engagement, research insights, logistical/time/budget constraints and other factors fed into project decision-making, including where the 6 ‘High Street Tweak’ ideas came from and which pilots went ahead (or not) and why. 34

Gorgie-Dalry Challenges: • Covid uncertainty, reduced footfall and hospitality needs more outdoor seating. • Need to improve shop frontages and high street aesthetic. • Demand for trees, greenery and rest spots.

SurveyLab online survey and participatory mapping of challenges and opportunities for Gorgie-Dalry high street

3 digital co-design workshops using WhereBy, Zoom and Miro, and stakeholder conversations via email, phone and social media.

Opportunities: • Improve high street UX (planting, seating). • Improve walking/ cycling infrastructure. • Support local indie businesses. • Celebrate in-person experiences, identity and heritage.

6 High Street Tweak Ideas: Engagement and prototyping activities with young people

Outdoor projection Summer daylight Expense vs benefit

Dalkeith

Challenges: • Perceptions buildings/public spaces are run down. • Finding appropriate, affordable business premises/ infrastructure. • Demand for substantial public realm improvements.

SurveyLab online survey and participatory mapping

I w Complex permissions Time-scale

In progress by others

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Parklet Style Seating

Space for Display/ Performance of Local Creativity

4 digital co-design workshops using WhereBy, Zoom and Miro, and stakeholder conversations via email, phone and social media.

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Art/Heritage Trail Installations

Digital pilot Already in progress by others

Opportunities: • More seating, planting, lighting, toilets and social spaces to make the high street more attractive as a destination/ place to spend time. • Support local independent businesses. Promote a more varied high street offer (coworking, community spaces).


Tenement window boxes Street level impact preferable

Public Life Study of place quality and the high street.

What is the project legacy?

Issues (cost/ who) keeping updated

Collaborating/ commissioning time-scale

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Local Commercial Directory/Guide

Heritage/ Identity Media Content

Public Life Study of place quality and how the people are using the street environment. Keeping updated+ duplication

Window illustration (Chapter One, Clock Cafe, CJ’s Cafe) to support local businesses + public realm aesthetics. Prototype seating for outdoor socialising / rest spots (to improve accessibility, public life and dwell time).

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Tactical Urbanism Kit

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Container version? Planning complications

Keeping updated+ duplication

The pilot tested and sought feedback on a Tactical Urbanism Kit - a kit of small scale, easy to assemble street furnishings.

• Publicly available outputs including a report sharing key findings, a booklet sharing 6 ideas for ‘High Street Tweaks’, two open source Public Life Studies datasets for Gorgie-Dalry and Dalkeith, 7 public blogs and 6 films sharing the project process and learnings on key topics. • Two ‘high street tweak’ pilots tested on site in June with ongoing legacy, including New Practice working with One Dalkeith to further refine and produce a permanent Tactical Urbanism Kit, and with City of Edinburgh Council to explore installation of several permanent benches co-located with businesses/community art where possible to promote public life and accessibility along Gorgie/Dalry high street.

Key

Engagement / research activity Opportunities Challenges 6 Ideas for High Street Tweaks Pilots Insights Ideas

Illustration: Victoria Rose Ball


Lessons Learned • The value in reflecting on and sharing the project process through blogs, films, and other outputs. • The benefits of an adaptable plan and responsive project programme. • The value of embedding a ‘collaborative evaluation’ approach from early in the project to support and guide live decision-making. • The importance of communication with project stakeholders throughout the codesign process. • Testing of a range of digital engagement tools and approaches as an alternative to inperson engagement during a pandemic. • The benefits of merging research and practice through a diverse interdisciplinary project team. • The potential for small-scale tweaks to the built environment to create meaningful impact. • The challenges for co-design and delivery given a short 6 month project time-scale. • The importance of building in legacy from early in the project through shareable and well documented outputs. This was especially important given the ‘hard stop’ at project end due to all University staff involved in project delivery being on short-term fixed employment contracts tied to the project. 36


Future Perspectives So what does the future of the high street look like? The high street is often the social and economic heart of a neighbourhood. Project findings support the notion that high street health depend on creating and maintaining a place that is liveable, vibrant, successful, accessible to all and desirable as a destination. It needs to be both a place to move through and spend time. We need to leave aside the perception the high street is just retail or shops. Instead, the high street can be thought of as an ecosystem comprised of public space, the activities and businesses that occupy adjacent building frontages, and which has a wider cultural and social importance within a neighbourhood.

Future Demand for the High Street

Project-specific Pilot Legacy

Project findings showed common trends in terms of future demand for the high street to:

The prototype seating and window illustration for the Gorgie-Dalry pilot provided marketing benefit to businesses, increased public life and improved accessibility for a wider range of users. Going forward, New Practice are working with City of Edinburgh Council to explore installation of up to 4 permanent benches along the length of the high street based on data-driven project learnings about preferred seating locations. Where possible these will be co-located with key community arts and heritage trail locations to support access, and will involve local participants in embedding creative elements within the seating.

• Focus on experiences that can’t be found online. • Shift perceptions of the high street from ‘retail’ to a social meeting place. • More variety of high street shops, services, and experiences. In particular: » More independent shops, cafés and restaurants. » Flexible spaces for community, coworking or multiple business uses. » Cultural venues including the arts and theatre. • Public realm improvements to benefit the high street more broadly as a place and destination, improving footfall and dwell time to also improve the commercial offer. In particular: » More attractive and inclusive pedestrian infrastructure. » Social leisure spaces on the high street and mix this with a commercial offer. » A better mix of outdoor public and cafe seating. » More planting and ‘greenery’. » Less car traffic. • Demand for social and seating spaces within the public realm that support connection and community. A recognition that the high street is a key social connecting place.

In Dalkeith, New Practice continue to work with One Dalkeith, a community development trust, to establish a Tactical Urbanism Toolkit. This will comprise low cost, easy-to-assemble furniture and other components that can be used by local organisations, businesses and residents to make use of public space in new or unusual ways. For example, deck chairs to turn a public square into an outdoor cinema space, movable planters to green public space for an event, or tables to host an outdoor banquet. Pilot legacy includes the procurement of a range of initial components and tools, and supporting One Dalkeith to establish behind-the-scenes infrastructure, including a lending system for local organisations. Part of this process will include further involvement of local people in the design and fabrication of additions to the toolkit through co-design and co-fabrication workshops, using open source technology.


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Engagement: 40 42 44 54 58 62 66 70

Overview Co-design Reflections Digital Tools Survey and Workshop Findings: Challenges Survey and Workshop Findings: Opportunities Gorgie Dalry Pilot Dalkeith Pilot Toolkit of 6 Ideas for High Street Tweaks


Engagement Overview Overview: The High Street Tweak process included a variety of tools and approaches to engagement. It involved local stakeholders in both GorgieDalry and Dalkeith project locations. This included a project website, online survey, engagement with local business stakeholders through telephone and social media conversations, online co-creative workshops, in-person events and two pilot events in each project location. This page summarises the numbers of participants engaged through each of these processes.

Method

Engagement statistics

High Street Tweak was the primary general public facing identity for the project. A website was established to act as the main space to share information on the project and how to get involved with the variety of engagement activities included in the project. The website and events were promoted across social media, both organically and through promoted posts targeting local residents in each project location.

Website: 816 total unique website users

Participants could engage in the process through a range of activities which offered multiple levels of involvement and available time, ranging from a short online survey, to online co-creative workshops. To encourage participation from local business stakeholders, New Practice undertook a thorough mapping of local businesses and reached out directly via email, telephone and social media messages, contacting over 200 businesses across Dalkeith and Gorgie Dalry. Alongside this, the project team joined a variety of local forums online, including Community Council meetings, sharing information on the project and ways in which to take part.

Overall: • • • • • •

Dalkeith: • • • • • •

61 survey participants 68 businesses directly contacted via email/ phone/social media 12 workshop participants (total at 4 workshops) 4 business participants in workshops 3 total creatives (illustrators/photographers etc) sub-contracted 1 business directly engaged through pilot events

Gorgie Dalry: • • • • • •

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80 survey participants 209 businesses directly contacted via email/ phone/social media 20 workshop participants (total at 7 workshops) 8 business participants in workshops 9 total creatives (illustrators/photographers etc) sub-contracted 4 businesses directly engaged through pilot events

29 survey Participants 141 businesses directly contacted via email/ phone/social media 8 workshop participants (total at 3 workshops) 4 business participants in workshops 6 total creatives (illustrators/photographers etc) sub-contracted 3 businesses engaged through pilot events


Website:

816 Total participants:

Survey:

Dalkeith:

Gorgie Dalry: of which, 33% were business participants

of which, 50% were business participants

178 total

132 total

3 1

users

Creatives sub-contracted (Illustrators / photographers etc.)

Business engaged through pilot events

6 3

Creatives sub-contracted (Illustrators / photographers etc.)

Business engaged through pilot events

11

17

minutes seconds Average time to complete


Co-design Reflections Overview: A key focus of the Future of the High Street project has been exploring co-creative approaches to design development, within the context of high street challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and longer term trends. This has been embedded by the project from the outset. However, the practical challenges of delivering a design project during a time of crisis, and in shifting circumstances with regards to public health measures means that the project team have had to work reactively to engage local stakeholders. In this section, New Practice reflect on the topic of co-creation and how this has been manifested in the project.

The Future of the High Street project was developed to offer local stakeholders a key role in developing design concepts in collaboration with the project team, trying where feasible to embed a co-creative approach to the generation of outcomes. As design practitioners and architects dedicated to connecting people to decision making processes that impact the built environment, New Practice have worked across a range of previous projects that run the scale of levels of stakeholder participation. Sherry Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation acts as a totemic analysis of the relationship between facilitators and stakeholders for practitioners working in this space. It defines a range of scales of influence and control that stakeholders have over decisions and outcomes, from a complete lack of input on development, to limited consultative approaches, through to the development and implementation of change by stakeholders themselves. Later critics have explored the limitations of this model, noting that ultimate control of processes and outcomes does not necessarily reflect the desires of all communities, and that capacity to take on these sorts of relationships to development are not evenly distributed.

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The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the challenges of citizen participation in development of the built environment. At the core of these challenges are the practical implications of the pandemic for the sort of complex and comprehensive collaboration that is required to undertake change processes in the face of the day-to-day concerns of people from diverse backgrounds and communities. What does this mean for the approach taken by the project team in developing activities and approaches to ensuring that local people are a part of the development of the pilot activity in the Future of the High Street project? In devising approaches to collaborate with and engage local stakeholders, it was critical to be empathetic and understanding of the limitations on time, resources and energy available when much more critical and urgent challenges were presented in daily life. This meant creating multiple avenues for participation at varying scales of involvement, from the digital survey to more involved online workshops. It also meant reaching out to key stakeholders, including local businesses, directly to inform them of the process and share the potential benefits of engaging with the project. One particular frustration as a design practice reflecting on the delivery of engagement process


in the built environment profession during the pandemic has been an emphasis on highly technical products and services that lack more basic thought around the barriers to access and digital literacy challenges that many people experience. While there is much opportunity to innovate and develop novel approaches in this space, the project team within the Future of the High Street project has sought to create spaces that are inclusive to diverse communities through a focus on technologies that are largely familiar to the majority of people. The non-linear nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ebb and flow of restrictions, has meant that some of the initial hopes of the project team to allow more hands-on and in-person engagement opportunities did not materialise. One key reflection on the practical realisation of this project has been the challenge of creating a digital alternative to the creative, deliberative space of an in-person meeting or workshop. Digital tools have evolved rapidly over the course of the Pandemic, and this project has been a fascinating opportunity to explore their opportunities and limitations.


Digital Tools Overview: A range of digital tools were used across this project. These ranged from a website to tell the story of the project, to surveys to gather data and ideas, to the use of more novel forms of digital cocreation tools, like digital whiteboards. This section details some of these tools, and provides a rationale for why they were selected, how they were used in practice and what can be learned from how effectively they worked.

Delivering this project in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic represented a significant challenge in finding open and effective ways to involve local people in co-creative and engagement activities. New Practice have made use of digital tools in a number of previous projects, with an emphasis on using remote tools to learn more about people’s perceptions of place and of predefined design proposals. Co-creation involves more involved forms of engagement and facilitation with stakeholders, that go beyond a simple exchange of information and opinion. It requires the creation of space for deliberation and the embedding of design workflows that transform a range of opinions and ideas into concrete design proposals that can be tested and explored in detail. In more traditional in-person events and workshops, designers and architects might work around a table to local stakeholders, using design tools like drawings and diagrams to work in dialogue. Through Charrettes and other co-design formats, ideas, opportunities, and challenges would be translated into design proposals to be discussed, discarded or developed further. However, even outside the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, these processes can provide challenges to participation, requiring significant time for

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participants to fully engage in. There exists a challenge for facilitators of these processes to try to remove barriers to access and to ensure that a diverse and representative community feels able to participate. The Covid-19 Pandemic represented a twofold challenge to effectively engaging and facilitating a meaningful two-way process with local stakeholders. First and most importantly, the early months of 2021 represented a time of significant restrictions for people in Dalkeith and Gorgie Dalry. Ongoing restrictions on travel and gathering, and on the operation of local businesses had to be central to the development of any engagement process. For local stakeholders, the continuity of everyday lives; going to work, spending time with family and friends, was already interrupted by the upheaval of restrictions. Within this context, it was critical to consider the burden on peoples’ time in taking part in a highly involved co-creative process. To ensure that local people could find a way of engaging with the process that fitted around their lives, a range of tools that provided varying levels of time commitment were necessary. To reflect this, New Practice developed two primary remote tools to allow local stakeholders


to take part in the project - one that would require a limited amount of time and effort to take part in the form of a digital survey, and the other a more deliberative and facilitated space in the form of a online workshop hosted by video conferencing software and making use of digital whiteboarding tools. In a more practical sense, social distancing restrictions meant that it was vital that any and all tools used were remote, to ensure the safety of both the project team and participants. This posed a challenge in how to facilitate the sort of complex, deliberative and creative conversations that represent ideal co-creative design practice. If it was not possible to gather around a table and work collectively to shape drawings and other design materials, what novel digital tools might be used to replicate as best as possible this sort of creative experience? How might New Practice and the project team effectively facilitate and translate the creativity of local stakeholders while physically distributed across central Scotland. The Future of the High Street project offered an opportunity to learn through experimentation with novel tools, offering an overarching evaluation framework that supported the design processes.


Digital Tools: Website ‘Shopfront’ Overview: A range of digital tools were used across this project. These ranged from a website to tell the story of the project, to surveys to gather data and ideas, to the use of more novel forms of digital cocreation tools, like digital whiteboards. This section details some of these tools, and provides a rationale for why they were selected, how they were used in practice and what can be learned from how effectively they worked.

Project Website New Practice developed the High Street Tweak website to act as the primary space to share information on the project and recruit participants for the project survey and online co-creation workshops.

How this worked in practice: In previous projects, New Practice have made use or a range of website creation tools, from directly coding in html and css, to the use of tools like Squarespace.

The website was launched at the start of March 2021, providing information on forthcoming engagement activities, and a link to a project survey, offering an opportunity for participants to answer a range of questions on their perceptions of the challenges and opportunities for their High Streets.

For the High Street Tweak website, New Practice worked in Webflow, a browser based web development platform that mixes a ‘what you see is what you get’ interface with tools to allow more sophisticated customisation of underlying code.

Why we used this tool: New Practice have included the use of websites in a range of previous projects. They have proven an effective tool for telling the story of a project; sharing information on why a project is taking place and how people could become involved. In the context of the Future of the High Streets project, providing information on the link between the co-creative process of High Street Tweak, and the overarching ambitions of the Future of the High Streets project was a vital component of this narrative.

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The website was developed through an internal wireframing process, before being built in Webflow. To simplify use of the website, a one-page structure was used, encompassing information on the purpose of the project, how to take part, including links to registration for events, a space to sign-up to a mailing list, and contact information. What we learned: The project website was well used across the project duration, totalling 816 users. As design practitioners rather than web developers, Webflow proved a valuable tool, offering an intuitive interface that allowed scaling levels of customisation.



Digital Tools: Survey + Mapping Overview: A range of digital tools were used across this project. These ranged from a website to tell the story of the project, to surveys to gather data and ideas, to the use of more novel forms of digital cocreation tools, like digital whiteboards. This section details some of these tools, and provides a rationale for why they were selected, how they were used in practice and what can be learned from how effectively they worked.

Project Survey The digital survey offered participants in each project location an opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas on challenges and opportunities facing the High Streets in Dalkeith and Gorgie Dalry. Why we used this tool: The purpose of the digital survey was two-fold. To inform later project stages, including the cocreative online workshops, it was vital to develop an understanding of peoples’ perceptions of their local High Street - the challenges it faces in the face of Covid-19 and longer-term pressures, as well as opportunities that might feed in to the development of the pilot project process. Secondly, addressing the challenges that many local people might face in becoming involved in more complex and time-consuming form of engagement with the project, it offered a space for people to engage with the project in a 5 to 10 minute duration. How this worked in practice: New Practice have used online survey tools in a range of previous projects and have made use of a number of platforms and services to develop these. One of the central aspirations of the digital survey was to allow local participants to identify on a map key locations that they felt represented

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challenges or opportunities that the project might address. This was the key driver determining which survey tool would be selected. New Practice explored a number of alternative tools which embedded community mapping services. These included Commonplace and Mapping for Change’s Community Map tool. Ultimately, both of these tools, while offering robust and sophisticated participatory mapping tools proved too costly within the context of the project, with a requirement to seek separate licenses for each project location. Having explored a number of alternatives, Surveylab was adopted to develop the final survey. While this tool did not contain a specific community mapping tool, it made use of a heat map tool. Originally devised for market testing of products, this tool allows participants to select an area on an image and provide written feedback. For the digital survey, a map of each project location was included. What we learned: In total 86 people provided responses across the two project locations. The limitations of the participatory mapping tool meant that only one location could be selected per participant, which limited opportunities for knowledge sharing.



Digital Tools: Video Conferencing Overview: A range of digital tools were used across this project. These ranged from a website to tell the story of the project, to surveys to gather data and ideas, to the use of more novel forms of digital cocreation tools, like digital whiteboards. This section details some of these tools, and provides a rationale for why they were selected, how they were used in practice and what can be learned from how effectively they worked.

Video Conferencing With the opportunity to meet local people in-person and host more traditional design workshops, video conferencing was key to facilitating co-design workshops with local people in both project locations. For most, these tools would have been completely foreign 18 months ago. However, video conferencing tools have played a vital role for people during the Covid-19 pandemic, for both business and social purposes. Why we used this tool: Co-creative activities with stakeholders require a high degree of deliberative interaction, creating a meaningful two-way conversation between participant and facilitator. Video conferencing tools represent the best alternative to creating this level of interaction when meeting in-person is not possible. How this worked in practice: There exists a plethora of video conferencing software options available. Some are browserbased, allowing people to take part using only their web browser, while others, like Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, require dedicated software to be downloaded and installed on all participants’ devices. Initially, browser based tools were preferred. It was felt that these offered a lower barrier-to-entry for prospective participants, who may not have dedicated software installed on

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their devices, if not required for work purposes. Whereby, a browser based tool was used for the initial round of co-creative workshops. This tool included in-built support for Miro, a digital whiteboarding tool (detailed overleaf), which allowed participants to interact with this tool while remaining in the same browser tab. The advantage of this was less risk of participants losing track of the workshop across multiple tabs, and an ability to see participants webcams while working. However, while this worked well in the initial two workshops, it became clear that there were technical limitations to Whereby. In particular, as with other browser based video conferencing tools, it placed a significant load on the processing capabilities of users devices, in one instance leading to a participant being unable to take part until an alternative solution could be devised. The project team revised the approach, and adopted the use of Zoom, which participants expressed a preference for. What we learned: It is clear that a far wider than expected crosssection of the public have experience of using video conferencing tools during the pandemic, and as with other forms of engagement technology, working with what people are familiar with is key to widening access.



Digital Tools: Whiteboard Overview:

Digital Whiteboarding

A range of digital tools were used across this project. These ranged from a website to tell the story of the project, to surveys to gather data and ideas, to the use of more novel forms of digital cocreation tools, like digital whiteboards.

Digital whiteboards are online spaces for idea sharing and project development. They replicate the in-person processes of working around paperbased tools, including the use of post-it notes, sketching over imagery, and diagramming. Design practitioners are accustomed to using these physical tools to generate concepts and ideate them towards detail development, and digital tools like these were already increasingly popular before the Covid-19 pandemic.

This section details some of these tools, and provides a rationale for why they were selected, how they were used in practice and what can be learned from how effectively they worked.

Why we used this tool: It was critical as part of this project in finding novel technologies that would allow a level of remote engagement with stakeholders in both project locations that facilitated meaningful two-way conversations and offered a level of deliberation and ideation that might generate co-created outcomes. As design practitioners, it would be common for this sort of process to take place in facilitated workshops, with participants gathered around design materials like drawings, sketches, models and diagrams, using these as a basis to advance design ideas and make shared decisions. Digital whiteboarding tools have been adopted by design practitioners working in remote teams for some time, and this project offered a chance to explore how they might function in workshops with non-professional participants. 52

How this worked in practice: New Practice had some limited experience in making use of one digital whiteboard tool, Miro, in advance of the Future of the High Streets project, and had found it promising in engaging participants without design professional experience. A number of alternative tools exist in this space, but all offer similar functionality - a scrollable digital space, with the ability to drop in a range of elements including notes, images, and annotations, in collaboration with other participants. Having adopted Miro as the tool to be used in the co-creation workshops, New Practice developed a structured facilitation space, both to act as a plan for a range of iterative activities, and to offer the space to capture ideas and comments from participants. Initially, it was hoped that workshop participants would engage in Miro itself, adding their own notes. In practice, while some participants did do so, it primarily functioned as a space for project team facilitators to capture spoken comments from participants discussing their ideas and thoughts within the video conferencing space. What we learned: Ultimately, it is the quality of the conversation between facilitators and participants that generates the most valuable insights and progress within co-creative workshops, and as with in-person workshops, some participants may be inhibited in making use of design tools themselves.



High Street Challenges

Survey and Workshop Findings Dalkeith: The outset of this process involved work to establish key challenges for the high street, both in terms of the direct and current impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and longer term shifts in public and commercial activity. These identified challenges would help to shape how participants were engaged through later co-creative processes and the range of potential outcomes to be explored in the pilot activities. Across our two engagement sites, there were a number of key challenges identified. The following is based on findings from our survey data, online workshops and engagement with local businesses.

The four most prevalent issues for Dalkeith survey respondents were: • • • •

the appearance and state of buildings; a sense of safety in the town centre; street cleansing and litter control; and outdoor and green spaces that are welcoming.

Qualitative elements of the survey uncovered a need for more varied, or independent shopping options, with some respondents stating there are too many of the same kinds of shops (such as hairdressers or charity shops), and that this lack of variety dissuaded visitors. For example, one participant discussed the ‘Need for broadening shopping variety options to encourage increased visits to the High Street’. Echoing the statistical data, some made notes on the appearance of the high street, with comments such as the ‘run down’ look or the need for better street lighting. Others made comments which spoke to the social life of the area, with suggestions for community and leisure spaces, such as a ‘community space for activities/ gatherings’.

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A number of participants raised issues relating to transport including a lack of (free) parking, safe cycle routes and reliable public transport. As one participant said, there is a need for ‘parking spaces to attract people to use the centre, adding that the local bus service connecting Dalkeith to surrounding villages was ‘poor’. These findings were consistent with conversations that took place in the online workshops. Workshop participants focussed on the challenges related to key public spaces with the town centre of Dalkeith. Similar to survey participants, the location of Jarnac Court was central to conversations, with a focus on its existing state of repair. Participants noted upcoming plans being developed by Midlothian Council to renovate the space and surrounding buildings. Workshop participants also explored Covid-19 specific challenges for community groups and organisations in delivering their work and activities during pandemic restrictions.



High Street Challenges

Survey and Workshop Findings Gorgie Dalry: The outset of this process involved work to establish key challenges for the high street, both in terms of the direct and current impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and longer term shifts in public and commercial activity. These identified challenges would help to shape how participants were engaged through later co-creative processes and the range of potential outcomes to be explored in the pilot activities.

The four most prevalent issues for Gorgie Dalry survey respondents were:

Across our two engagement sites, there were a number of key challenges identified. The following is based on findings from our survey data, online workshops and engagement with local businesses.

Alongside the above, qualitative elements of the survey uncovered a strong theme around cleanliness, litter and fly tipping, e.g. ‘Dog fouling, dumping of large household items and litter are a big problem here’ - similarly, others mentioned graffiti, and improving the look of shopfronts.

• • • •

Slowing and reducing traffic / prioritising pedestrians The need for more trees and greenery on the high street Better maintenance of the streetscape Better cycle facilities

Respondents also mentioned ideas relating to local identity: •

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“Gorgie is one of the only places in Edinburgh that still maintains a (slightly rough around the edges...) local identity. I would hate to see this lost by lots of big corporations coming in.” Protect local community [threatened] by short term renting/students.

Within the co-creation workshops, and through one-to-one conversations with local stakeholders at online events, topics of accessibility to public space and the challenges for disabled residents and visitors were highlighted. This was linked to challenges local organisations faced in establishing their own projects highlighting local art and heritage. A lack of spaces to sit and rest for disabled and older people were seen as a barrier to equal enjoyment of public space. Participants noted the density and traffic of Gorgie Road and Dalry Road as significant barriers to the enjoyment of public space. A number of adjacent greenspaces, for example White Park, were identified as respite from this, although the lack of greenery along the project area was identified as a challenge.



High Street Opportunities Survey and Workshop Findings

Dalkeith: Alongside the identification of key challenges impacting the High Street in both locations, the project survey and online workshops focussed on gathering participant insights on pre-existing opportunities that this project might tap in to in order to generate concepts and ideas. Participants were encouraged to identify specific locations that may offer opportunities for small interventions to benefit High Street activity, or share information on existing projects which may have relevance to the aims of the project.

Within the project survey the majority of ideas for making a change to the high street generated by the Dalkeith participants related to the need for better, more independent or interesting shops and cafés. Some mentioned the need for improving the look and feel of the high street (making it more attractive or more welcoming), and some discussed the need for more community or leisure spaces, for example, ‘Better seating and outdoor eating spaces’ and ‘more places for entertainment. Snooker hall is great but a community venue with community activity would be great’. In noting challenges related to transport and traffic, some participants noted the potential for boosting local businesses through the adoption of reduced-cost or free car parking, a policy that has been adopted and rolled out in the town centre of Dalkeith by Midlothian Council. Within the co-creative workshop settings, participants identified a flourishing network of community organisations already delivering placemaking work in the town centre. This includes Dalkeith Guerilla Gardeners, who have adopted a number of greenspaces and planters

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and undertake maintenance of these on a voluntary basis. A number of arts, cultural, sporting and youth organisations were identified as having significant membership and enthusiasm, but having faced significant challenges in delivering their work during the Covid-19 pandemic, and ensuing social distancing restrictions. Participants noted that outdoor space and tools and facilities to support working in new ways represented a significant opportunity for these organisations. Jarnac Court was the area most commonly identified by participants in both the survey and workshops as an area with significant potential for intervention to benefit town centre activity. While identified by participants as representing a challenge in a number of respects, its centrality to the town centre as a gathering place and adjacency to businesses were perceived to be of great value. Participants noted that plans are already in place to renovate the Court and surrounding buildings, and there was a desire for further opportunity for gathering and outdoor activity to be embedded within this longer term planning.



High Street Opportunities Survey and Workshop Findings

Gorgie Dalry: Alongside the identification of key challenges impacting the High Street in both locations, the project survey and online workshops focussed on gathering participant insights on pre-existing opportunities that this project might tap in to in order to generate concepts and ideas. Participants were encouraged to identify specific locations that may offer opportunities for small interventions to benefit High Street activity, or share information on existing projects which may have relevance to the aims of the project.

In our survey, respondents reported they would like to see more independent shops and coffee shops, seating areas, green space and community spaces. Some made suggestions as simple as more seating areas, though the pollution levels were noted as an issue here, e.g. it must be ‘away from immediate traffic’ or alfresco dining ‘if pollution is dealt with’. Like Dalkeith, there were also suggestions for community spaces, such as: ‘Places run by the community, for the community. Responding to what the local needs are and building on what is strong in our community’ or a space for ‘adult education’. There was also a strong sense of the importance of local producers and products, e.g. ‘A weekly market would be nice. There are a lot of vendors who have started businesses out of their homes during lockdown and it would be great for them to have a place where they could sell their products for a low stall fee. It would strengthen the sense of community and bring people to Gorgie’. Another participant noted: ‘ This place is great. I want all the existing places to make it through the Covid crisis‘

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Within the context of the co-creative workshops, participants noted that the established and strong sense of identity in the neighbourhoods of Gorgie and Dalry represented a significant opportunity to draw visitors from across the city and encourage local people to explore their area with new eyes. Participants expressed a belief that Gorgie Dalry’s traditional heritage of industry and contemporary multicultural commercial offering and community led arts and placemaking represented a distinctive identity that should be better promoted to wider audiences. Beyond the scope of this project, participants noted that a range of existing organisations were already exploring projects around the themes of community arts and placemaking, as well as the work of the local Community Council and Community Forum in promoting the interests of local businesses.



Dalkeith Pilot Overview: The Dalkeith Pilot involved a day of testing Tactical Urbanism Toolkit components; small scale, easy to assemble street furnishings for anyone to use. The concept of a Tactical Urbanism Toolkit emerged through the co-creative workshops with local participants, who identified the range of existing organisations and groups in the town already engaged in activating public space in innovative ways. Participants felt that access to additional resources and equipment might allow these groups to work in new or expanded ways. To test this toolkit, some street furniture was designed and assembled on site and the effects of this on the high street were monitored over the course of the event, against existing data to learn what sort of changes they make. We spoke to local people about how these tweaks changed their experience of the high street and how they might use the toolkit in the future.

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Event details

What did we learn

The Dalkeith Pilot involved the assembly, use and disassembly of a selection of items that might be included in a permanent legacy version of the Tactical Urbanism Toolkit. The items included seating including benches, stools, and deck chairs, as well as shelves, planting, and a floor covering in the form of artificial grass.

Testing the toolkit on site at a small scale was an effective way of sparking conversation and communicating what the toolkit might look like, and how it might be used.

The pilot activity offered the opportunity to test the assembling of items on site, helping to test how challenging the use of the components was. The pilot activated a space within Jarnac Court, a key public square within the centre of Dalkeith town centre. This location was the most highlighted area by participants in the survey and co-design workshops as both a location with significant challenges, but as offering key opportunities as a large gathering space close to businesses. The placement of the Tactical Urbanism Toolkit prototype was selected to maximise engagement with passers-by through Jarnac Court, entering and exiting the space through South Street A key focus of the event was on communicating the Tactical Urbanism Toolkit concept to passersby, including local residents and those passing through Dalkeith town centre to make use of shops and hospitality businesses. Participants were offered their chance to share ideas on how they or local organisations might benefit from the toolkit as well as what components they might like to see included in a final version.

Moving forwards, it might be more useful to disperse the elements in different locations over a longer period of time to understand how differences in weather and periods of time affect use of the toolkit items. Some members of the public were initially unsure whether they were allowed to sit on the furniture, moving forwards it would be good to ensure this is clearer, either through signage or placement. Participants were largely very supportive of the delivery of a permanent Tactical Urbanism Toolkit as a legacy of this project, and shared a number of ideas for potential components to be included, including elements to support outdoor arts and crafts activities and elements that might provide rain covering to users.



Dalkeith Pilot Overview: The Dalkeith Pilot involved a day of testing Tactical Urbanism Toolkit components; small scale, easy to assemble street furnishings for anyone to use. The concept of a Tactical Urbanism Toolkit emerged through the co-creative workshops with local participants, who identified the range of existing organisations and groups in the town already engaged in activating public space in innovative ways. Participants felt that access to additional resources and equipment might allow these groups to work in new or expanded ways. To test this toolkit, some street furniture was designed and assembled on site and the effects of this on the high street were monitored over the course of the event, against existing data to learn what sort of changes they make. We spoke to local people about how these tweaks changed their experience of the high street and how they might use the toolkit in the future.

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Pilot Legacy The pilot event allowed an opportunity to test elements of a permanent Tactical Urbanism Kit in a public space in Dalkeith, and engage passersby on their perceptions of it, and what elements might be included. New Practice continue to work with One Dalkeith, a community development trust, to establish a Tactical Urbanism Toolkit. This will comprise low cost, easy-to-assemble furniture and other components that can be used by local organisations, businesses and residents to make use of public space in new or unusual ways. For example, deck chairs to turn a public square into an outdoor cinema space, movable planters to green public space for an event, or tables to host an outdoor banquet. Local participants at the pilot event identified a number of themes and ideas that might be incorporated into the permanent toolkit, with an emphasis on elements to support outdoor arts and crafts and seating. Pilot legacy includes the procurement of a range of initial components and tools and supporting One Dalkeith to establish behind-the-scenes infrastructure, including a lending system for local organisations. Part of this process will include further involvement of local people in the design and fabrication of additions to the toolkit through co-design and co-fabrication workshops, using open source technology.

During early summer 2021, New Practice will use the available project budget devoted to legacy activities to procure a number of initial tools and components, including: • Deck Chairs • Surface coverings (eg. astroturf) • Parasols and Gazebos • Benches • Picnic tables • Elements for outdoor display and exhibition (eg. easels) • Tools to facilitate maintenance of components Detail of exact quantities are still to be established in collaboration with One Dalkeith, and the above is indicative. Beyond the physical elements, New Practice will also develop documentation to support: • The lending system for toolkit elements • Maintenance of elements • Digital files to allow the fabrication of future elements Later in 2021, New Practice will support One Dalkeith in the delivery of a co-creative workshop around the production of further components to include within the TUK, based on the needs and interests of local stakeholders. Using the WikiHouse/OpenDesk model of open-source design and fabrication, these activities will focus on generating furniture designs that can be edited by participants through educational experiences, and manufactured for hands-on assembly.



Gorgie Dalry Pilot Overview: In Gorgie Dalry, two key themes emerged through engagement work, including the online survey and co-design workshops: the opportunity of encouraging use of the high street through links to arts and heritage, and the need for ‘sticky places’ to support better access to public space and allow people to spend more social time together. Participants identified a number of community arts and cultural organisations already creating great work in the area the might be supported through co-location of seating and other street furniture that might support better access. Locations for potential future seating also emerged through the project survey and conversations with local stakeholders. To test the feasibility and interest in new seating and key locations, the pilot day in Gorgie Dalry included the temporary placing of plywood prototype benches. To accompany this, local illustrators where commissioned to animate shop window spaces with live illustration and capture the day through creative methods.

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Event details

What did we learn

The primary focus of the event was on engaging passers-by in conversation around the potential of installing permanent new seating at key locations along Gorgie Road and Dalkeith Road. While two key locations were selected for the pilot activity, the event offered opportunity to further explore with participants their perceptions of making use of their local high street, and how seating might impact this.

To accompany the analysis work being delivered by EFI through the Public Life Study, New Practice undertook more informal engagement with passers-by, which included local residents as well as people passing through the area.

Two locations were selected to test plywood prototype benches. One, adjacent to the entry of Chapter One Coffee Shop, and the other in a small public square next to Co-op. These locations were identified as two public spaces that through their existing adjacency to hospitality businesses might support public life and offer a commercial benefit. This selection was also impacted by the desire to co-locate the pilot locations with the PLSA process to allow analysis of how the pilots impacted public life. To support the testing of seating, and to link to identified themes of using arts and heritage to encourage use of the high street, a day of liveillustration within hospitality business window space was delivered by local illustrator Victoria Rose Ball.

This engagement was focussed on exploring participants perceptions of their local high street, with a focus on a conversation on how they might make use of additional permanent outdoor seating, or how they felt this might impact public life in the high street. The large majority of participants expressed support for the delivery of additional seating, reflecting existing project findings on the lack of sufficient amenity to support public gathering. Some participants did express concern about the careful location of this seating so as not to encourage anti-social behaviour A core focus of the project is around how additional seating might support commercial activity on the High Street, and three local hospitality businesses were engaged through the pilot activity, either through close co-location of the prototype seating, or the activation of window space through liveillustration. Each of the three businesses included in the pilot expressed significant enthusiasm in taking part in the process and informally were keen for additional seating nearby which might support customers.



Gorgie Dalry Pilot Overview: In Gorgie Dalry, two key themes emerged through engagement work, including the online survey and co-design workshops: the opportunity of encouraging use of the high street through links to arts and heritage, and the need for ‘sticky places’ to support better access to public space and allow people to spend more social time together. Participants identified a number of community arts and cultural organisations already creating great work in the area the might be supported through co-location of seating and other street furniture that might support better access. Locations for potential future seating also emerged through the project survey and conversations with local stakeholders. To test the feasibility and interest in new seating and key locations, the pilot day in Gorgie Dalry included the temporary placing of plywood prototype benches. To accompany this, local illustrators where commissioned to animate shop window spaces with live illustration and capture the day through creative methods.

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Pilot legacy The prototype seating and window illustration for the Gorgie-Dalry pilot provided marketing benefits to businesses, increased public life and improved accessibility for a wider range of users. Going forward, New Practice will be working with City of Edinburgh Council to explore installation of several permanent benches along the length of the high street based on data-driven project learnings about preferred seating locations. The available project legacy budget allows for the installation of approximately 4 benches across the project location. New Practice have established conversations with relevant Council departments with an intention to install final permanent seating in Autumn 2021. This may be subject to planning processes as well as procurement, fabrication and installation processes that remain complicated by the ongoing challenges of Covid-19.

Where possible these will be co-located with key community arts and heritage trail locations to support access, and will involve local participants in embedding creative elements within the seating. A range of creative elements may be incorporated into the final installed seating, including selection of colours as well as text or graphic elements. New Practice propose to offer local community arts organisations the opportunity to shape the final design of these through a commission.



Toolkit of 6 Ideas for High Street Tweaks

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This toolkit is the product of a series of workshops, activities and conversations with residents, businesses and organisations across two local high street locations - Gorgie Dalry in Edinburgh and Dalkeith. These events were part of High Street Tweak, a co-creative design project delivered by New Practice, and part of the wider Future of the High Street project led by the Edinburgh Futures Institute. The project sought to explore how local stakeholders can work together and with creative practitioners to develop ideas for small improvements designed to help make our high streets more successful and liveable places. Taking place within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was an opportunity to explore how co-creative design could be used to support local businesses impacted by the dual challenges of public health restrictions and longer term changes to the way high streets are used. New Practice led a series of events and activities, mostly through digital tools, working with local people. These included activities to develop an understanding of peoples’ perceptions of the challenges and opportunities that exist within their local high street and design activities to explore how the High Street Tweak project could prototype and

deliver small interventions that might impact high streets in positive ways. Co-design workshops took place over two stages. The first focussed on understanding the priorities of participants - working through a series of discursive activities that took identified priorities and generated initial design concepts. These concepts were then developed by New Practice, tested against a range of criteria - from cost, to the challenges of gaining necessary permissions, and the ability to deliver within the timescales afforded by the project. A second round of online workshops presented an initial draft of six refined ideas. Within these events, participants deliberated on those that they felt most directly met the challenges and opportunities of their high street, and developed additional detail. This toolkit presents the six ideas generated through this co-design process. While each of these ideas were generated in response to the particular challenges of two distinct places - Gorgie Dalry and Dalkeith - the hope is that learning from this process might inform decision making in new locations. Both locations represent high street typologies common to Scotland and beyond. Dalkeith is a compact town centre with a broad high street, while Gorgie Dalry is typical of a main arterial

route linking a series of commercial centres and adjacent residential neighbourhoods from the centre of the city to outlying suburbs. Each of the six ideas is presented with a description of how they benefit high street activity, what common challenges might need to be addressed and what sort of local stakeholder or partners might be best placed to make them happen. Where possible, an outline of typical costs to produce aspects of each of the ideas is included. You can read more about High Street Tweak and the Future of the High Street project at the following links: www.highstreettweak.co.uk www.edinburghlivinglab.org/projects/futureof-the-high-street


Parklet Style Seating Areas Parklets are a form of outdoor public amenity focussed on providing additional seating and greenery in busy locations. They have been used in urban spaces across the globe, making use of under used pavements or public squares, or placing new seating into car parking locations adjacent to local businesses. Some parklets are located next to hospitality businesses, offering the opportunity to provide outdoor service or more generally offer spaces to stop and socialise adjacent to cafés and other venues. Within the context of ongoing restrictions imposed in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, this opportunity for outdoor and takeaway hospitality is critical to the operations of many businesses. More generally, outdoor seating, whether in the form of parklets or more traditional benches offer a range of accessibility benefits to locals and visitors.

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How did this idea develop through codesign?: This was one of the most popular suggestions within co-design workshops. Participants regularly noted a lack of ‘sticky’ places to support social gathering in High Street locations. These were raised both as potential installations to support local businesses, and to enhance existing public space lacking in places to stop, linger and socialise. How does this address High Street challenges?: In the High Street Tweak survey, outdoor seating was a common issue raised by participants. This was generally raised as a criticism of existing public space infrastructure, as opposed to strictly related to the interests and needs of local businesses. It is anticipated that outdoor hospitality will be a critical step in the re-opening of businesses over the summer of 2021, with limitations on forms of service indoors for several months. Temporary outdoor seating would offer businesses without existing outdoor facilities an opportunity to experiment with this form of service, and generate additional income in the immediate term.

Who are the collaborators/partners?: This built physical infrastructure improvement would require the support of a specialist fabricator and installation contractor. A range of manufacturers have begun to offer pre-designed parklet products, designed to be dropped into car parking sized spaces. Were the installation targeted on providing general seating in public space, adoption and maintenance of these would require more complex negotiation with the Local Authority. If this seating was designed to support local hospitality businesses, this maintenance and general upkeep could be supported by one or more businesses who operate this space on a day to day basis. Beyond the scope of this project, longer term adoption could be explored. However, to ensure that a small business does not end up taking on unnecessary risk and expense, a proportion of project costs should be set aside to allow anticipated maintenance. What challenges do we anticipate and who can help solve these?: As with any physical intervention, there would be an expectation to approach Local

Authority planning departments to check what permissions would be required to facilitate installation and operation of outdoor seating. This would be particularly critical were this seating to offer outdoor hospitality, where a change in licensing may be required for a business operator. Local Authority planning and licensing officers would be able to provide guidance on these issues. How much would it cost?: A number of suppliers produce offthe-shelf parklet and outdoor seating components that can be installed in outdoor locations with minimal requirement for groundworks. A car-park sized parklet can be purchased for around £8,000 to £13,000, while outdoor benches, planters and other components can cost between £500 and £1,500 dependent on their size. Working with an independent designer or maker may allow more bespoke options to be created to suit specific spaces, Local fabricators may also be engaged to create these installations. It is important to consider the impact of fees for this specialist input. Bespoke options may also require safety and engineering certification to satisfy local authorities.


Space For Display/ Performance Of Local Creativity Covid-19 has severely limited opportunities for display of creativity through performance and exhibition. The restrictions on gathering and opening of venues has had the effect of cancelling annual events, typically key parts of local identity. This has impacted a wide variety of community members, and has had a particular negative impact on young people, for many of whom, expression through clubs, schools and as individuals can form a significant part of their identity. Within co-creation workshops, participants expressed interest in physical interventions that would support outdoor opportunities for creative expression through performance and exhibition while indoor venues remain closed.

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These platform infrastructure elements would be placed within existing key public spaces and generally could be developed in two forms: • A stage or bandstand type structure, allowing performance of events programmed by local clubs and organisations. • A space for display of visual art and creative works, offering alternative opportunities to groups who would usually host indoor exhibitions.

While this activity is not linked directly to the support of local businesses, the location of outdoor activity and events within prominent High Street and Town Centre locations would have an anticipated impact of increasing footfall in commercial areas. This form of platform installation would focus on attracting participants at key performance or opening events.

How did this idea develop through codesign?:

Critical to the success of these installations would be programming of events and exhibitions by local organisations. A number of creative arts organisations and youth groups and schools were highlighted by workshop participants as potential partners to activate these installations.

This concept was an idea repeatedly raised by participants in the co-creation workshops. A key focus was on expanding the opportunities for young people and existing arts groups to exhibit and perform during the continued closure of venues. This activity was linked to the work already being undertaken by a range of clubs and organisations at a community level, for whom performance and exhibition space was limited and critical to their operations. How does this address High Street challenges?: Enhancing and celebrating the promotion of local identity and creativity was a topic raised by several participants within the High Street Tweak online survey.

Who are the collaborators/partners?:

What challenges do we anticipate and who can help solve these?: As with other physical installations, conversations with Local Authority planning departments would allow assessment of required permissions or licences for the built structures and any outdoor events that they might support. Local Authority planning and licensing officers will be able to offer guidance on these points.

Beyond the initial project phase, longer term adoption, programming and maintenance of these installations would be critical to longevity and legacy. It is most likely that responsibility for maintenance and upkeep would fall to the Local Authority, and understanding how this would be managed would be critical ahead of installation. Involvement of local creative organisations to continue to programme and activate the installations beyond the initial project phase would also be critical to ensuring long-term sustainability. How much would it cost?: Any installation to be placed in public space for an extended period will require relevant permissions from a local authority. As part of this process, it is likely that safety and engineering certifications be provided. As such, bespoke design and fabrication of outdoor gallery or performance spaces may form a significant proportion of overall project costs. The length of time that any installation will be in place will also impact costs. Short-term or seasonal installations may reduce costs through the use of less hardy materials, while permanent installation would require careful consideration of longevity of the exhibition while indoor venues remain closed.


Art/Heritage Trail Installations To support and celebrate local identity and heritage, creativity, and increase footfall in High Street and Town Centre areas, creative trails were suggested by cocreation workshop participants. A number of alternative approaches to the development of this idea was suggested by participants. These included murals on blank spaces on buildings, the installation of ‘blue plaque’ style heritage wayfinding and signage, creative installation within shop windows or on shop shutters and the decoration of newly installed elements. This project could be enhanced through additional tools like an audio guide or geolocating mobile app.

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How did this idea develop through codesign?: The celebration and promotion of both local identity and creativity was a common theme both within the High Street Tweak survey and the co-creation workshops. A desire for improvements to and creativity within public space was identified as a common theme by survey participants. Within the workshops, participants noted that trails of this nature had a dual benefit, offering space to celebrate culture and heritage, while offering incentive for people to visit and engage in High Street areas. How does this address High Street challenges?: Survey participants raised improvements of the visual aspects of public space as a common priority. Within the context of the scale of the High Street Tweak project, responses to this are limited to small scale artistic and creative interventions. However, there is opportunity within the budget available for these to focus on impactful temporary interventions that might be adopted for a longer time period with minimal upkeep or maintenance requirements. A heritage or art trail approach is focussed on incentivising increased footfall and visitor numbers in a defined area, through the promotion of local identity and creativity. This is achieved both through the installation

of artworks, wayfinding and signage or other forms of creativity and through the publishing and promotion of an overarching narrative through which these installations are tied together as an experiential journey through a High Street area. This could be promoted and supported through print or digital media, with maps helping to guide the route and explain each installations’ significance. Who are the collaborators/partners?: Key collaborators or partners would depend on the specific thematic focus of the trail developed. Workshop participants discussed the focus of this either around the celebration and uncovering of local heritage and contemporary identity or of local creativity. If the focus of the trail was on heritage and identity, local heritage organisations would play a key role in developing an overarching narrative and selecting key aspects to identity across public space. Were the focus to be on local creativity and arts, local arts organisations would be involved in the development of designs and potentially the installation/creation of artworks, dependent on the form these took. What challenges do we anticipate and who can help solve these?: As with other forms of physical installation or display, Local Authority planning departments would be required to input on any permissions required for the erection

of any new structures or visual elements in public space. Local Authority planning officers will be able to provide guidance on what permission might be required. Beyond the temporary period of this project, it would be important in advance to understand how installations would be maintained in the longer-term, and who might take responsibility for this. How much would it cost?: Public art, wayfinding installations and signage might take a range of forms and scales. Public art in the form of murals or other surface installations represent a relatively low-cost approach, and typically require less challenging planning permissions than other forms of public art. The commissioning of a mural by a professional artist might cost in the range of £3,000 to £5,000, while a community arts group might be able to be supported to create an installation at a lower cost with the covering of materials. Signage elements can be produced for £100 to £300 dependent on scale, but may require more careful engagement with local authorities around safe installation.


Local Commercial Directory/Guide To promote local businesses and organisations, a local guide or directory would showcase the variety of offer available to local people and visitors. This guide might be a printed or digital resource, aimed at presenting a local High Street or Town Centre area as a unified destination with a wide range of businesses and services to incentivise footfall. This guide or directory could cover all local businesses interested in being featured, or could focus on a particular theme, for example showcasing restaurant offerings, cafés, pubs and bars etc. highlighting particular offerings that may not exist elsewhere in the region/city.

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How did this idea develop through codesign?: Participants in co-creation workshops identified the priority of advertising the unique offering of local businesses to both local residents and visitors from elsewhere. Similar local directories and guides in other High Street locations were identified as a potential approach to achieving this. How does this address High Street challenges?: High Street Tweak survey respondents identified supporting local independent businesses as a key priority. Local guides and directories are a common approach adopted in other areas to promote these businesses and raise awareness of the existing offer in a defined High Street or Town Centre area. The ultimate ambition of this project would be to drive additional custom and footfall to the area.

Who are the collaborators/partners?: Knowledge of local businesses and contact with those who can provide information would be critical to the initial generation of this directory. A local business stakeholder organisation would be best placed to support this process. Support from Local Authority commercial development teams would also be beneficial to gaining access to initial data and contacts from which content generators could work. What challenges do we anticipate and who can help solve these?: The critical challenges of this form of guide or directory are in the initial gathering and production of data and content for existing businesses and then in the ongoing updating and refreshing of this as businesses change over time. The turnover of shops on local High Streets is such that the directory would quickly become out-of-date. As such it is critical for the viability of this project that an

organisation be identified to take on longer term responsibility for the management and maintenance of the directory. Were this to be a printed resource, there are significant costs associated with creating sufficient print runs, and refreshing this resource on a regular basis. How much would it cost?: The design, and production of a single run print map, highlighting local features can be produced for around £2,000 to £3,000, based on the creation of around 1000 copies. This covers design fees and printing. Providing adequate distribution to a wide array of venues would require additional costs. Costs to create bespoke online resources would very dependent on their sophistication.


Local Identity/ Heritage Media Content Across the survey and co-creation workshops, participants noted the desire to tell the story of their local place. This included a focus both on heritage and the history of the project locations, and their contemporary identities. Media like short films and podcasts offer an opportunity to explore these topics in an engaging way, inherently designed to share narrative stories and bring local voices to prominence. The development of a piece of documentary media would offer the opportunity to bring together local stakeholders to develop a narrative and produce a film, podcast or similar content that would then be shared through digital resources.

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How did this idea develop through codesign?: The idea of telling the story of place was a conversation that was raised multiple times in the co-creation workshops. A range of ideas around this concept were explored. The idea of using media like a podcast or film to do this was not an idea raised by participants but instead extrapolated from this desire to find a vehicle to tell these stories. A number of workshop participants identified existing projects using books and other resources as examples of this type of place-based storytelling. How does this address High Street challenges?: Participants to both the survey and cocreation workshops identified the celebration of local heritage and identity as a key priority. For both project locations, local stakeholders have identified that this local identity is an asset which can attract visitors and local people to engage with the High Street and Town Centre. The ambition of this media content would be to raise the profile of the unique identity of the project location, and raise footfall.

Who are the collaborators/partners?:

How much would it cost?:

Local heritage organisations would be critical to shaping the content and narrative of this content. It would be critical to include knowledgeable local stakeholders who could inform and craft a narrative which is representative of local history and contemporary identity. In locations with a diverse community, it would also be vital that representatives of this wide diversity be

The cost of producing bespoke media will vary greatly based on the form of media selected, the length of production, the number of collaborators required and the sophistication of the final product.

A production would benefit from creative agencies with experience in the development of the chosen media, whether it were film, podcast, or another format. What challenges do we anticipate and who can help solve these?: A key challenge is around ensuring adequate involvement from a diverse range of local stakeholders, to ensure that the narrative of the media content is representative and tells a full and fair story of a complex place. Support from experts in documentary film, podcasting and other media production would be able to help steer this process.

A short-film portrait of a single organisation or individual, lasting around 3 minutes might cost around £1,000 to produce, to cover professional filming, editing and subtitles. Longer films, with greater levels of storyboarding, writing, and editing processes will grow in line with their complexity. Podcasting as a medium has lower initial overheads, and community organisations might have the capacity to record and edit their own productions. Professional quality microphones can be purchased for under £100 and a range of editing software is available for free.


Tactical Urbanism Kit Tactical Urbanism refers to the practice of informal changes to public space on an ad-hoc basis to allow for alternative uses by organisations and the public. It includes a wide array of approaches and tools - from transforming open public spaces into plazas through the introduction of deck chairs, applying paint to surfaces to demarcate new uses, and using simple materials to create places to gather and interact. Often these interventions might only last for a short time, even one day, allowing quick re-orientation and re-acquisition of public space for a range of unique uses. A Tactical Urbanism Kit represents a range of tools and materials that would be required to flexibly adjust public space in a variety of ways, and would be made up of a range of off-the-shelf and bespoke components. Local organisations and residents would be able to access the Kit on request, and use it to undertake their own interventions. This would operate similar to a tool library, with an expectation that components be returned once they have been used. This Kit could be hosted at a local venue, within a local shop, or could be established as a storage locker or shipping container within a local space.

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How did this idea develop through codesign?:

Who are the collaborators/partners?:

This approach encompasses elements of previously described physical intervention approaches, allowing a high level of autonomy and flexibility for local organisations and residents to access and develop their own temporary projects. This Kit approach was introduced and discussed in second round of co-design workshops, with significant interest from some participants, linked to work of existing community groups and organisations.

In developing the Tactical Urbanism Kit, it is critical to understand the capacity, interests and involvement of local organisations, who will make use of the tools provided. Ahead of the acquisition and fabrication of any tools, it would be important to canvas local organisations and understand what tools they might need to support their endeavours, and how they would plan to make use of them. It is important that there are plans in place to make suitable use of the resources made available.

How does this address High Street challenges?:

What challenges do we anticipate and who can help solve these?:

Similar to the more specific approaches outlined in the other ideas in this toolkit, this Kit of parts approach provides a range of tools to address some of the challenges identified by participants around creating spaces that are more inviting to spend time, with opportunities to sit and interact. This anticipated benefit of this approach is in incentivising and providing tools to allow local organisations and groups to programme public space with activities and events, encouraging local and visitor participation, and driving additional footfall over the summer of 2021 and beyond.

Long-term storage and management of the Kit would be a critical challenge to address at the outset of the project. The Kit would require potentially a significant amount of storage space to be made available and would require a local stakeholder organisation to manage the lending of tools and ongoing maintenance. This represents a significant amount of organisational capacity on the part of a local partner. The approaches adopted by tool libraries offer valuable models for the management of the loaning of resources, as well as

challenges for an operator, like the requirement for suitable insurance. Beyond the initial creation and installation of the Kit, it would be critical to ensure that there is interest and capacity on behalf of a range of local stakeholders to make use of the tools available, and ensure that the initial capital investment is not left unused or inaccessible to local stakeholders. How much would it cost?: The costs to create a Tactical Urbanism Toolkit will grow in line with number and types of resources and tools included. A number of initial overheads need to be considered. Chief amongst these are the need to ensure that the organisation taking ownership of the resources and lending process have adequate insurance in place. Specialist insurance brokers can advise on what forms of insurance are required. Digital tools created to manage the lending process can be accessed for free for non-profit organisations.


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Public Life Studies: 86 102 118

Gorgie-Dalry Baseline Public Life Study Dalkeith Baseline Public Life Study Pilot Impact - Comparative Analysis


Gorgie/Dalry high street Report produced by Jenny Elliott, Shawn Bodden, Daniel Muñoz-Zech and Ben Murphy as part of EFI’s ‘Future of the High Street’ project.

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20 21

Public Life Study


What is a Public Life Study? Research Methodology Public Life Studies include a mix of direct observation methodologies and interviews with passers-by (revealing their user experience of the high street). Together this mix of research methods helps reveal both how the street environment currently functions in terms of public life, pedestrian movement and more holistically as a place.

The methodology was based on the approach advocated by the Gehl Institute, but has been tailored to fit the project context (for example including additional ‘business activity’ exercises), to test out use of digital software Procreate, and iteratively adapted and improved based on hands-on on-site experiences and learnings.

This study was completed by the Edinburgh Futures Institute as part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ in 2021, funded by the Scottish Funding Council. This report includes analysis of data collected on Saturday 15 May 2021 in Gorgie-Dalry high street to provide a baseline understanding of public life and how the high street is currently used by pedestrians.

The same methodologies, techniques and research team members were used to gather data in each location to ensure consistency. Each researcher was thoroughly briefed and trained in the methodology for each of the Public Life Study techniques and activities, and a descriptive prompt was added to researcher pack recording sheets so that the appropriate methodological detail could be double checked as needed on the day to ensure reliable results. This consistent and thorough research methodology provides an excellent baseline set of data, giving a clear picture of how the town centre high street is used by pedestrians and its current level and diversity of public life. This means that - in addition to the insights presented here - this method can be repeated in the future following any improvement works, piloting or other changes to the area to give a follow-up post-evaluation study for

For more information and insights from the wider Future of the High Street project, please also see the summary project report.

comparison. This was done on the Future of the High Street project - enabling us to check how pilot prototype seating and other elements influenced public life. A fully briefed team of 4 researchers were positioned at key locations across the high street. Locations were chosen based on insights around key areas of interest from the project’s public online stakeholder survey, insights from conversations with the local authority and ensuring a balanced and varied distribution of high street locations. Research was conducted on the busiest day of the week - Saturday, with the following research activities taking place for 10 minutes each at 3 timeslots (9.30am, 12.30pm, 4pm) in each of the 4 locations simultaneously: • • • •

Footfall Stationary Activity and Dwell Time Business Activity Age+Gender Demographics

In addition, between timeslots, each researcher conducted semi-structured street interviews with passers-by, assessed each of the 4 research locations against Gehl’s 12 Quality Criteria for Public Life, and took notes on their user experience observations whilst on a ‘test walk’ along the whole high street.


Researcher Observations

RESEARCH LOCATIONS

A

GORGIE/DALRY

D C

Da

lry

Ro

ad

Gorgie Road at Smithfield St

B A

Gorgie

Road

eating

shops

vacant

assembly & leisure

professional services

non-residential institutions

1:5000

eating

shops

vacant

assembly & leisure

professional services

non-residential institutions

88

This area is characterised by a range of shops and services including beauticians, hair salons and barbers that line either side of this linear section of high street. The pavement around the bus stop at Smithfield Street/Gorgie Road becomes easily and quickly congested with a mix of many people waiting for buses and others trying to walk past east-west or vice versa along Gorgie Road. The drop down to the cobbles of Smithfield Street was observed to be a barrier to access. Researchers noted an opportunity to widen the pavement at the end section of Smithfield St where this meets Gorgie Road to support pedestrian movement and public life. Given its sunny position, this space would also offer an ideal spot for both recreational and commercial seating. The south side of the high street felt less vibrant, with few people observed spending time here. The bus stop, Co-op and grocery shop were key nodes of activity, with many people spending time in conversation or pausing outside here. Considerable litter and waste was observed. Many interviewees commented on street ‘dirtiness’, pointing to overflowing bins, plastic 1:5000 waste and dog litter. Many also commented on vacant shops. Considerable pavement clutter and obstructions in cycle lanes combined with traffic noise to further a feeling of car priority.


B

D

C

Gorgie Road at White Park The area nearby to Newton Street along the Gorgie Road high street has a limited number of attractions - primarily the park and those shops/businesses that are open along this stretch of the high street. Most pedestrians pass by this area without stopping, although it is not uncommon to see people exchanging greetings with others who they know. Several shops in this segment of the street are temporarily or permanently closed, which partially explains that most respondents to interviews described this place as ‘rundown’ and ‘depressed’. An exception to this general lack of attractions is the White Park playground. As the only space with obvious features allowing to stay for a longer time, this area attracts many families with children, and young people, throughout the day. Regardless of the time of the day, motorised and on-foot traffic is heavy, giving the street an identity that several interviewees described as ‘busy’. Despite this sense of busyness, there is little interaction between one side of the street and the other. Pedestrians travel along each side, with only one crossing in front of White Park which is seldom used.

Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace This is a bustling portion of the Dalry high street, with considerable foot traffic coming from Fountainbridge. The concentration of the Coop, local cafés, restaurants, charity shops and a newsagent lend the area a lively atmosphere and attract customers throughout the day, supported by the outdoor seating at Clock Café and (in the evening) La Casa restaurant. The majority of pedestrians travel along the north side of the street (i.e. by the Co-op) where the pavement is more spacious. Queuing, takeaway collection and delivery vehicles frequently crowd the pavement around the Orwell Terrace junction. The small plaza beside the Co-op offers considerable space, but goes remarkably underused, likely due to the absence of seating and some occasions of antisocial behaviour nearby. The crosswalk beside Co-op and CJ’s Café is also in regular use, but many pedestrians cross directly to/from the Co-op and Orwell Terrace despite sometimes-heavy traffic. These patterns of use taken collectively indicate that Orwell Terrace itself is an important pedestrian entry point onto the high street, but also that there are missed opportunities for attracting and retaining visitors due to under-furnished public infrastructure; insufficient space for pedestrians along the Orwell Terrace junction; and heavy vehicular traffic.

Dalry Road at Dalry Gait This area forms a busy section of Dalry high street. Small shop and business frontages face onto a slightly curved section of high street, with residential tenements on typically three upper floors. The human-scale high street frontages often with glazing and views to people inside or attractive and interesting shop windows and/or occasional outdoor cafe and restaurant seating - provide considerable natural surveillance and views onto the street. This, combined with the high street being a typically busy and bustling location in close proximity to Haymarket station and Edinburgh city centre, mean this section of the high street feels vibrant and pleasant. Some traffic noise from cars and buses on Dalry Road and a lack of public seating are the main hindrances to public life at this location, in addition to some narrower sections of pavement and pinch points. There is little shelter from rain or wind, and very little planting or trees present in the public realm. Regardless, the high footfall and attractive small-scale high street business frontages create a lively and attractive high street - albeit with few opportunities for wider more spacious places to retreat from the main pavement thoroughfare along Dalry Road.

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Footfall Overview:

Key findings

Method:

Footfall information is helpful as higher footfall contributes to public life, the sense of a vibrant street environment, provides people watching opportunities and can also support adjacent businesses through increased visibility and commercial opportunities.

There is more footfall the further East along the high street you go, with Dalry Road slightly (x1.14) busier with pedestrian traffic than Gorgie Road and highest footfall at D. Footfall increased closer to the Haymarket and city centre end of the high street compared to the western Gorgie section of the high street.

The researcher stands with their back against a wall and counts the number of people walking past an imaginary line in front of them on the pavement on that side of the road over a 10 minute period.

Gorgie Dalry high street

By also recording the number of pedestrians ‘supported’ using a wheelchair or stick, carried in a buggy or sling, ‘rolling’ via skateboard or scooter or jogging it is also possible to gain insights into how accessible the high street is for different users and pedestrian movement types.

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Footfall was highest at lunchtime on a Saturday at all locations along Gorgie-Dalry high street, with the exception of Gorgie Road at White Park where late afternoon was busier. Typically mornings were the quietest for footfall at all locations along the high street. There was an under-representation of pedestrians observed being carried (e.g. in a sling or buggy), supported by a walking stick, or rolling using a wheelchair at the two Dalry Road locations and to a lesser degree along Gorgie Road. This may indicate a less accessible environment for these users at these locations. This is supported by prior Public Life Street Assessment (2017) data indicating a desire for more seating and reduced street clutter to improve the accessibility of the street in these locations.


Mean daytime footfall (pedestrians/hour)

284

262

238

34

286

9.30AM

C

B

DALRY ROAD AT ORWELL TERRACE

C

D DALRY ROAD AT DALRY GAIT

DALRY ROAD AT DALRY GAIT

60

Da

lry

Ro

GORGIE ROAD AT WHITE PARK

4PM

D

33

Gorgie

4PM

47 44

28 9.30AM

12NOON

B 12NOON

Road

4PM

GORGIE ROAD AT WHITE PARK

A

61 42

28 9.30AM

12NOON

4PM

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS AT 3 TIMESLOTS

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS AT 3 TIMESLOTS

9.30AM GORGIE ROAD AT SMITHFIELD STREET

50

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS AT 3 TIMESLOTS

GORGIE ROAD AT SMITHFIELD STREET

12NOON

ad

A

51

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS AT 3 TIMESLOTS

57

DALRY ROAD AT ORWELL TERRACE


Key Findings

Stationary Activity Overview:

Gorgie Dalry high street

Stationary activity and dwell time serve as useful indicators of the extent and quality of public life in a given public space. The ratio of people engaged in ‘staying’ activities compared to passing pedestrians (i.e. footfall) provides insight into how conducive a space is for public life, while individuals’ ‘dwell time’ - measured in minutes - helps assess how enjoyable, useful or otherwise inhabitable a space is for its users. Coupled with qualitative analysis of the types and duration of stationary activities occurring in the space, this provides an overall picture of how the space is used at a given time and allows for evaluation of changes in public life.

92

The overall patterns of stationary activity and dwell time indicate the four locations each play markedly different roles on the Gorgie-Dalry high street. Location C near Orwell Terrace is host to the largest and most diverse range of stationary activity. Locations A and B are popular but concentrated around specific amenities: the Smithfield Street bus stop and local playground, respectively. Location D near Haymarket had the lowest amount of stationary activity and the lowest average dwell time. Despite their popularity, A and C have considerably little public seating, reflected in their overall lower dwell times compared to, for instance, the playground at B. In general, stationary activity was far quieter in the 9:30am timeslot across locations. Commercial activity including window shopping, queuing and commercial seating was highest at 12:30pm, and was particularly prevalent on Dalry high street near Orwell Terrace (C). Given the amount of activity at A and C, there is considerable opportunity for improving public infrastructure here to encourage longer dwell times.

A B

9:30 12:30 4pm

Gorgie Road at White Park

Method: Our team of researchers gathered stationary-activity and dwell-time data at each site systematically through a series of three 10-minute observational studies scheduled throughout the day (9:30am, 12:30pm, 4pm). All stationary activity during these times was marked on a map along with approximate dwell time, qualitative notes about the activity and its use of public infrastructure (standing, commercial sitting, public sitting, or ‘multiple movements’ like work or play). These results were collated into maps and bar graphs illustrating patterns of use for each location.

C

Total Activity: 86 77%

Gorgie Road at Smithfield St

Average dwell time: 1-5 mins Total Activity: 40 50% 10% 40%

9:30 12:30 4pm

Average dwell time: 5-10 mins Total Activity: 100 74%

Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace

Road at D Dalry Dalry Gait

23%

9:30 12:30 4pm

Average dwell time: 5-10 mins Total Activity: 31 90% 10%

9:30 12:30 4pm

9% 13% 4%

Key Standing Commercial Sitting

Average dwell time: <1 min

Public Sitting Multiple Movements


A. Gorgie Road at Smithfield Street

B. Gorgie Road at White Park

Standing

22

22

22

66

Standing

5

10

5

20

Commercial Sitting

0

0

0

0

Commercial Sitting

0

0

0

0

Public Sitting

7

6

7

20

Public Sitting

0

3

1

4

Multiple Movements

0

0

0

0

1-5

1-5

1-5

1-5

Multiple Movements

1

6

9

16

Average Dwell Time

Average Dwell Time

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

By far the most common stationary activity at location A involved waiting for public transport, in particular at the bus stop at the end of Smithfield Street. The narrow strip of pavement between Smithfield Street and Gorgie Road was densely occupied throughout all timeslots and as well the only site where pedestrians sat down, while the

6

35

33

Commercial Sitting

1

2

6

9

Public Sitting

3

4

6

13

Multiple Movements

3

1

0

4

Average Dwell Time

1-5

1-5

1-5

1-5

74

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

5-10 5-10 5-10

nearby bus stop on the opposite side of Gorgie Road was used more infrequently. There was some activity outside of the nearby shops, take-away restaurants and café, but this was generally fleeting with over 90% of all stationary activity lasting for less than 5 minutes.

C. Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace Standing

1-5

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

Location C proved very busy with a diverse range of stationary activity, especially in the 12:30PM and 4:00PM timeslots. The commercial seating outside of Clock Café was popular throughout the day, responsible for the much of the longest (10+ minutes) dwell times. Many pedestrians also paused briefly to window shop at local store-fronts. There is considerable pedestrian traffic from Orwell Terrace, and many people wait to cross straight to the Co-op from Orwell Terrace rather than using the junction. The Co-op itself hosted a great deal of stationary activity around its frontage, with most activity revolving around the ATM, the bike racks or informal seating while waiting on shoppers inside.

Location B had only about half as much stationary activity as the other site studied on Gorgie Road near Smithfield Street. During the 9:30AM and 400PM timeslots, there was very little stationary activity on the high street itself, with a few people waiting for public transport or to cross the street. The 12:30 timeslot, however, saw more prolonged activity (5-10+ minutes) beside the Gorgie Fish Bar and neighbouring barber. In contrast to the largely quiet street, White Park was the clear epicentre of stationary activity throughout the day and is the source of the area’s comparatively high average dwell time. The playground is, however, set apart from the high street by multiple fences, segmenting public life in the area.

D. Dalry Road at Dalry Gait Standing

4

11

13

28

Commercial Sitting

0

3

0

3

Public Sitting

0

0

0

0

Multiple Movements

0

0

0

0

Average Dwell Time

<1

1-5

<1

<1

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

Location D was the quietest of the observed locations, with the area from West Park Place to Richmond Terrace serving primarily as a movement route, particularly in the morning. With no public seating or bus stops, the majority of stationary activity involved waiting to cross the road or brief stops to talk on the phone or to friends. There was some prolonged activity (5-10+ minutes) around store frontages in the afternoon, including some outdoor commercial seating by 1926. The ATM outside of High Spirit Drinks was also a focal point of stationary activity during the 4:00PM slot, by which time overall activity and dwell time had begun to fall compared to the 12:30 timeslot.

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Pedestrian Flow: Tracing Studies Overview A tracing study reveals spatially the lines of pedestrian movement and flow within the high street public realm. This can provide an understanding of key movement routes and desire lines within the public space.

Gorgie Dalry high street

Method

94

A researcher visually observes passing users and marks their route over a plan of the high street. By tracing multiple users over a 10 minute period the pattern of dominant movement routes and desire lines can be seen. The researcher also notes down observations about pedestrian flow and behaviour. For example, where the street infrastructure does not facilitate pedestrian’s desired movement or observed reasons pedestrians may be choosing/not choosing certain routes.

Key findings Overall, tracing studies revealed the linear nature of the Gorgie-Dalry Road high street, with most pedestrian movement dominant in an east-west direction along the north and south pavements. In addition, throughout the length of the high street pedestrian desire lines can be seen crossing the road where the existing pedestrian infrastructure doesn’t currently support this, indicating a desire for improved connectivity between high street frontages and sides of the street. At Gorgie Road/Smithfield St pedestrian movement is more dominant on the north side of the pavement, with the researcher noting this was the sunnier side of the street, with more shops open (active frontages) and a busy bus stop which may be driving the north side as the more popular side of the street. Some pedestrians can be seen stepping into the road

at Smithfield St to move around the stationary pedestrians at the bus stop indicating a wider pavement at this spot may be beneficial. At Gorgie Road/White Park pedestrian movement is primarily linear east-west with few deviations indicating this section of high street is mainly used by pedestrians for moving through rather than stopping/staying. At Dalry Road/Orwell Terrace there are considerable desire lines where pedestrians are crossing the road - both at the designated pedestrian crossing, but - significantly - also at numerous other locations. The Coop was a draw for a number of these crossing, but the braiding continues further north-east as well, indicating a desire for improved pedestrian connectivity between both sides of street frontages.


A Gorgie Road at Smithfield St

B Gorgie Road at White Park

C Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace

D Dalry Road at Dalry Gait


A

B

C

Age + Gender

Gorgie Dalry high street

Age 0-4 5-14 15-24 25-64 65+

Overview:

Method

Key findings

This research activity was about understanding how diverse the demographic of people occupying or moving through a public space are.

To gather demographic data, four researchers were positioned along the high street at points A, B, C, and D to collect data for 10 minutes at timeslots throughout the day on a Saturday (9.30am, 12.30pm and 4pm) in May.

Overall, there was a slightly higher proportion of males to females observed on the Gorgie/Dalry high street, with 54% males and 46% females. This indicates an accessible and relatively safe high street, with those differences maintained throughout the day.

It is important to note that the ages and genders recorded are an estimation. For more accurate data on this all those observed in the street would need to have been asked about their age and gender identity for this to be an accurate reflection. However this gives a good approximate indication of which age and gender groups are present in a public space, and - by comparing this to neighbourhood demographics - who is under-represented or ‘missing’.

96

D

The demographic mapping study gave a good general indication of the proportion of females to males in the spaces along the high street as well as insight into the age of high street users. Using I-pads, ‘best guess’ age and gender information data was collected through direct observation and recorded onto pre-prepared iPad sheets in software Procreate. Subsequent analysis was conducted, including a comparison to typical neighbourhood data.

In terms of age, the 25-64 age group was by far the most well represented, at 54% of all those observed. This is as expected given the correlating with neighbourhood demographics. Much smaller numbers of those aged 15-24 (5.7%) and 65+ (11%) years were observed. The low % for teenagers and young adults as well as those aged 65+ perhaps indicates a limited breadth on offer of activities and spaces that appeal to a wider age group and the dominance of certain types of shops on the high street. The unexpectedly low percentages of 0–4 year-olds (1.3%) and those aged 5-14 (5.7%) highlight that the high street may be an unwelcoming or unaccommodating space for children.

54%

46%

Based on 957 total observed people across Gorgie-Dalry high st

Gender

Male Female


A: Gorgie Road at Smithfield St Researchers observed that at this location, on Saturdays, both males and females were fairly equally represented, with a roughly 50/50 split maintained throughout the day. There was a particularly high number of females using the bus stop at Smithfield St, but there was a generally even spread of genders in the wider area. Similar to the rest of the high street, the largest age group observed was those in the 25-64 years category. 56% of total users were from this ‘working age’ category. The lower numbers for pensioners and young children may reflect a number of things: that many children play sport or are at activities on Saturdays, that pensioners are more likely to do their shopping during the week instead of the weekend when research took place, or that the area offers little for those groups to visit. The lower numbers for children may also represent an unwillingness for parents to bring their children to the high street. More research would be needed to understand the reasons for any under-representation.

B: Gorgie Road at White Park Location B was situated to the east of Tynecastle terrace, opposite an area of greenspace with playpark facilities for children. At this location

females and males were fairly equally observed throughout the day, with one exception at midday where there was twice as many males as females. For age, researchers observed that, aligning with other locations, the 25-64 category was by far the most visible, with 43%. Again this reflects the general demographic data for the Gorgie/ Dalry area and highlights the draw of the high street for those of working age. Those aged 15-24 were also observed at a relatively high rate, comprising 26.5% of the total observed. Those under 14 were again the lowest observed groups, with 0-4 year olds comprising less than 1% of the total, and those in the 5-14 category only making up 8% of the total numbers. This points to a lack of attractions and features and spaces that appeal to, or accommodate children.

61% of the total numbers of people observed. This was the highest percentage of all the locations. Again the 15-24 was second highest, comprising 30% of the total. This highlights a generally younger working-age/student demographic for the high street. Those outwith the working age, were again significantly under-represented.

C: Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace

In terms of age demographics, the numbers again were representative of the overall figures for the high street. The largest group were the 25-64 category, who comprised just over 50% of the total (51%). They were the biggest group during all three time zones, showing a consistent trend in the age of those passing through location D. The split in the other 4 categories were also representative of the other areas and high street in general.

At location C there was a relatively even split between males and females, with there being slightly more males during all three time slots, although this difference was only around 8%. The biggest difference was observed at the 9.30am slot where there was a higher number of males than the later time slots. The age observations of location C reflected the overall trend for the rest of the high street. The largest group was the 25-64s, who comprised

D: Dalry Road at Dalry Gait At location D, the difference between male and female was fairly even, with men occupying slightly over 50% of those observed at all three time slots. The split for the entire day was 55% male and 45% female. This was the biggest difference between the genders for the Gorgie/ Dalry study.

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


10

9

6

4

5

4

8

5

9

5

10

6

6

7 9

8

10

9

10

2 2

3

4

5

3 4 5

3 4 5 6 7 8

7

8

7

OT PR

7

4

6

1

2

3

3

8

1 1

3

2

6

2

7

2

1

8

1

9

A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

6

9

G VIN COM MO F FORT O QUALITY

10

THINGS TO SEE [interesting unhindered views, opportunities to people watch]

4

5

9

1

4

10

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

Gorgie Dalry high street

8 7 6 5

2

11 1

7

PROTECTION FROM UNPLEASANT SENSORY EXPERIENCES [weather, climate, pollution]

4

8

3

2 2

3

Overall score 5.3

3

3

3

OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

4

3

2

9

5

4

4

9

7

8

5

6

2

98

Each of the four research locations within the high street are assessed individually by the team of researchers. A score out of 10 is decided based on observations and experiential qualities noted whilst in the field. A mean average score is then calculated for each of the four locations to accommodate consideration for different researchers’ experience of the high street at that location as a place. An average for the high street across all locations is also calculated.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY, RECREATION, ACTIVITY [places for play and physical exercise, temporary markets/festivals, space for activity and interaction]

7

5

3

10

6 6

IN G

Y JO EN

7

8

2

Method

9

7

1

10

8

1 1

DIMENSIONED AT HUMAN SCALE [buildings and spaces observe importance of human scale for movement, sense, behaviour, sizing]

11

8

9

2 10

10

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

9

PROTECTION FROM CRIME [feeling safe, natural surveillance, overlapping functions spatially and day + night]

E C TIO N

10

10

M EN T-

The overall place quality of the high street is assessed using an evaluation structure based on Jan Gehl’s ‘12 Quality Criteria’ (Cities for People, 2010). This place assessment framework is based on 12 criteria indicative of an environment providing conditions conducive to public life.

1

12

GO O DD ESIGN

Overview:

AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

K EPT SAFE

Overall Place Quality

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

Y TA S +

6

5

A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]

Key findings In May location A averaged a score of 4.7 with indicators 6, 8, and 11 receiving the lowest scores. Indicators 2 and 7 consistently scored higher than the others. At location B, the average score was higher at 6.5, with indicators 10, 9 and 7 receiving the highest average scores.

Location was lower than B but higher than A, at 5.5. The differences between each score was minimal with all scores between 3.5 and 6.5. Finally, location D had the lowest quality score, at 4.4. Indicators 3, 6 and 11 scored particularly low, at 3, 2 and 3 respectively.


2

2

3

3 2

OT PR

1

4

3

6

8

1 7

10

3 2

10

8

9

7

6

5

4

1

4

1

2

2

3

3

NG

6 7 10

8

G VIN COM MO F FORT O Y T I QUAL 9

4 5 6

NG

9

5

7

6

4

YI TA +S

5

8

Y JO EN 2

9

OT PR

E C TIO N

-K EPT SAFE

1

Y JO EN

10

4

3

5 4

5

8

9

3

10

7 6

9

6

NG

7 7

2

6

3

10

8

2

4

10 9

1

10

8

9

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

8

G VIN COM MO F FORT O Y T I QUAL 9

10

7

8

5 3 2

5

6

11

3

1

NG

4 8

5

12

Overall score 4.4

4

7

4

2

-G O OD DES IGN

10

OT PR

1

4

3

6

5

8

10

2

1

4

3

6

1

2

D: Dalry Road at Dalry Gait

5

YI TA S +

6

7 1

M EN T

M EN T

9

10

9

8

8 7

NG COM OVI FM FORT QUALITY O

8

5

8

7

5

YI TA +S

6

9

6

9

-G O OD DES IGN

11

5

Overall score 5.5

10

7 1

10

9

6

Overall score 7.2

12

4

C: Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace

3

G VIN COM MO F FORT O Y T I QUAL

8

4

E C TIO N

5

1

-K EPT SAFE

7

3

2

9

3

2

1

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

10

4

6 5

1

1

8

4

7

OT PR

3 2

9

Y JO EN

8

3

4

2

7

GO OD DES IGN

10

EC TIO N

11

10 9

M EN T-

6

12

Overall score 6.5

5

GO OD DES IGN 9

2

1

Y JO EN

-K EPT SAFE

8 7

M EN T-

11

10 9

B: Gorgie Road at White Park

EC TIO N

12

Overall score 4.7

10

1

K EPT SAFE

A: Gorgie Road at Smithfield St

7

YI TA +S

5

6

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Interviews Interviews with users of the high street are a useful tool to understand the high street experience from the perspective of the people who inhabit it. They

Gorgie Dalry high street

allow the participants to describe the high street in their own terms, bringing forward elements that might have not been previously considered by the researchers. The open-ended nature of interviews allows the participants to share their own expertise about the high street, allowing new themes and unexpected connections to emerge.

100

During each research day, and at each different timeslot, the research team approached passers-by and occupants of the street asking if they could be interviewed about the local area and their own habits within it. Should a passerby decline being interviewed, the researcher would - where possible - ask the next third person that walked by. This method aimed to ensure interviewees were recruited in an unbiased fashion. Dependent on how much time an interview had to talk, certain questions were omitted as needed or the conversation adapted. Based on interviewee feedback, the research team adapted questions to be most easily communicated and yield the most relevant insights from participants.

Method

Key Findings

Interviews were designed to last 5-10 minutes. They included questions that cover three main topics: • Routines, • Assessment of the high street • Desired elements.

Most respondents were in the high street either shopping or passing by. No one reported to be there just to enjoy the place, or having plans to spend a longer time in the area. This is consistent with the fact that people tended to describe the high street as ‘busy’ and ‘run-down’.

Routines were addressed with questions about the reasons why the participant is there in the high street, their usual destinations and practices in the street, as well as two questions about online shopping and whether the participant’s online shopping habits have changed during the pandemic. The assessment of the high street was addressed by questions asking if the participant usually spends time in the high street, how would they rate the high street on a scale from 1 to 10, and what three words they would use to describe the area. Finally, desired elements were addressed by asking the participants about shops, services, or other facilities they wish were available in the high street, as well as things they would change to make the area a more pleasant place to spend time in. Using this method, the research team interviewed a total of 36 pedestrians, both locals and coming from other parts of Edinburgh.

The street was seen as a busy place because of its high footfall and heavy traffic. Some interviewees reported conflict between modes of travel – especially walking and driving. This issue became contentious when discussing the ‘Spaces for People’ bollards. Despite being seen as busy, the street was also described as a rundown place by some respondents due to several businesses having closed down or struggling to stay open. This affected the interviewees’ desire to stay and spend time in the street. Respondents tended to describe the street as a ‘convenient’ space, particularly for their grocery shopping needs, but with little other attractive elements. Some interviewees expressed their desire for the high street to have more high-end businesses, attractive shops like modern cafés, and a general embellishment of shop fronts. They suggested using plant pots, flower baskets, and benches to make shop fronts more pleasant to people.


Routines

Assessment of the high street

“COVID has disrupted businesses but people help out” (Newsagent business owner).

“You can tell businesses are trying. New places pop up, some have been around a long time” (Local).

Interviewees in Gorgie-Dalry used the street for a number of reasons, with shopping the most frequently cited. Walking was the most used travel mode to get to the area by a significant margin. This indicates that most people in the high street were locals or came from nearby areas. Respondents who reported coming from more distant parts of the city took the bus, cycled, or drove.

“Everything looks very closed down” (Visitor).

The majority of respondents were in the street to do grocery shopping. This shaped their usual routines in the street, which tended to include going to Aldi and Sainsbury’s (Gorgie), or Lidl and Co-op (Dalry). Other outstanding destinations included Gorgie City Farm, charity shops, and the fishmonger. People who came to Gorgie-Dalry from more distant neighbourhoods reported they were there for more specific shops or needs. These included jewellers, looking for work, and even satisfying highly-specific needs like buying their favourite egg roll. The majority of respondents reported that their shopping behaviour was affected by the pandemic in varied ways. Some of them have shopped less frequently, which causes them to go out less often. While a number of them said that self-isolation caused them to start shopping online more, the majority of interviewees claimed that they shop more locally. Some of them did this explicitly with the intention of supporting local businesses.

‘Busy’, ‘convenient’, and ‘run-down’ were the three most used words by the interviewees when asked to describe the high street. These three words reflect the main elements that the respondents were concerned with when assessing the high street. The street’s ‘busyness’, in the first place, is described by its occupants in terms of traffic, and lack of spaces for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to share the street. Some shop owners and people who work in shops expressed frustration with the ‘Spaces for People’ bollards, which they feel obstruct their business by making it harder for customers arriving by car to stop and quickly go into the store. The bollards were also seen as obstructing delivery drivers. Some pedestrians, on the other hand, described the street as having heavy noisy traffic and not sufficiently prioritising the pedestrian experience. Respondents felt the high street was ‘convenient’ with a varied offer that includes grocery shops to specialised repairs. Some needs, like entertainment and clothes shopping, however, were felt to be met in other parts of Edinburgh, especially Princes Street. Finally, the ‘run-down’ aspect of the street was reflected by a general awareness of businesses in the area struggling to survive. Many respondents showed sympathy with this struggle, expressing their willingness to shop local, while also admitting that the high

street needed revitalising. The general visual impact of closed down shops and deteriorated fronts made the place feel less attractive and welcoming to pedestrians. Notable exceptions were White Park in Gorgie, and the nearby Harrison Park and Saughton Gardens which were seen as desirable, attractive destinations.

Desired elements “It doesn’t feel like a nice street with cafés outside” (Local). Most interviewees agreed the street needs revitalising. Suggestions ranged from providing further support for shops enabling them to stay open, to conducting road and pavement repairs. More specific suggested improvements included elements to decorate the front of shops (plant pots, flower baskets, and benches). These features were generally listed by respondents as a way of describing a more attractive and vibrant space to spend time in. Other ways interviewees expressed desired high street elements was by listing shops and services they wished were available in the area. These included cafés and restaurants (particularly Gorgie); a farmer’s market oriented to local fresh produce; bookshops and artisan stores; and more high-end shops (e.g. Sainsburys and Waitrose). A smaller number of people suggested offering indoor activities, such as social clubs or a mall. Overall, interviewees expressed their desire for access to more parks and green spaces. They believe this would not only increase the attractiveness of the high street, but would also encourage people to stay for a longer time.

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Dalkeith high street

Report produced by Jenny Elliott, Shawn Bodden, Daniel Muñoz-Zech and Ben Murphy as part of EFI’s ‘Future of the High Street’ project.

102

20 21

Public Life Study


What is a Public Life Study? Research Methodology Public Life Studies include a mix of direct observation methodologies and interviews with passers-by (revealing their user experience of the high street). Together this mix of research methods helps reveal both how the street environment currently functions in terms of public life, pedestrian movement and more holistically as a place.

The methodology was based on the approach advocated by the Gehl Institute, but has been tailored to fit the project context (for example including additional ‘business activity’ exercises), to test out use of digital software Procreate, and iteratively adapted and improved based on hands-on on-site experiences and learnings.

This study was completed by the Edinburgh Futures Institute as part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ in 2021, funded by the Scottish Funding Council. This report includes analysis of data collected on Saturday 22 May 2021 in Dalkeith town centre to provide a baseline understanding of public life and how the high street is currently used by pedestrians.

The same methodologies, techniques and research team members were used to gather data in each location to ensure consistency. Each researcher was thoroughly briefed and trained in the methodology for each of the Public Life Study techniques and activities, and a descriptive prompt was added to researcher pack recording sheets so that the appropriate methodological detail could be double checked as needed on the day to ensure reliable results. This consistent and thorough research methodology provides an excellent baseline set of data, giving a clear picture of how the town centre high street is used by pedestrians and its current level and diversity of public life. This means that - in addition to the insights presented here - this method can be repeated in the future following any improvement works, piloting or other changes to the area to give a follow-up post-evaluation study for

For more information and insights from the wider Future of the High Street project, please also see the summary project report.

comparison. This was done on the Future of the High Street project - enabling us to check how pilot prototype seating and other elements influenced public life. A fully briefed team of 4 researchers were positioned at key locations across the high street. Locations were chosen based on insights around key areas of interest from the project’s public online stakeholder survey, insights from conversations with the local authority and ensuring a balanced and varied distribution of high street locations. Research was conducted on the busiest day of the week - Saturday, with the following research activities taking place for 10 minutes each at 3 timeslots (9.30am, 12.30pm, 4pm) in each of the 4 locations simultaneously: • • • •

Footfall Stationary Activity and Dwell Time Business Activity Age+Gender Demographics

In addition, between timeslots, each researcher conducted semi-structured street interviews with passers-by, assessed each of the 4 research locations against Gehl’s 12 Quality Criteria for Public Life, and took notes on their user experience observations whilst on a ‘test walk’ along the whole high street.


Researcher Observations

RESEARCH LOCATIONS

A

DALKEITH

D

B A

104

eating

shops

vacant

assembly & leisure

professional services

non-residential institutions

C

1:5000

Dalkeith High St (West) The stretch of the Dalkeith High St between Eskdaille St and Old Edinburgh Rd is full of activity in the morning and afternoon centred around the concentration of large shops (e.g. B&M, Boots), charity shops, local businesses (e.g. With Love) and charity shops. This combination creates an interesting and useful area to shop, a fact reiterated by numerous interviewees who reported coming to the area to shop in one destination, but frequently dropping in and browsing in others en route. Many pedestrians passing through the area slowed to window shop, and the flower stand outside of B&M was spectacularly busy. Pedestrians would often be observed running into an acquaintance on the street and stopping for a chat, or making social visits to local businesses. This social activity was, unfortunately, unsupported by the local infrastructure: the proximity of noisy traffic would at times completely drown out conversation and there was no public seating. Many of the area’s visitors were 65+ and/or had reduced mobility who would likely benefit from seating in the area, especially when stopping to socialise. Older interviewees in particular were also concerned about the imminent closure of two banks in this area of the high street, which will reduce the diversity of services provided in the area. Public Life Study | Dalkeith town centre | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


B

D

C

Jarnac Court Jarnac Court is a lively hub that sees an important number of visitors throughout the day. This open area has several metal benches and some ledges that people use to sit. The court acts as an attractive hub to people, who come to shops in the court, sometimes staying a longer time before leaving or as they wait for the bus. The court offers a range of services (including a bakery, an ironmonger, a clothes shop, a café, etc.), as well as convenient passage connecting the High Street to South Street. A number of visitors to the court are passing through, drawing a diagonal across on their way from or to South Street. The dimensions of the place make it feel protected from nearby traffic. Some shade provided by a large tree and the roof outside shops offer shelter to visitors. It is common to see families in the court, sitting on benches eating, or browsing shops. People who sit alone are often approached by others, indicating that there is a community of people who know one another and tend to utilise the area. The intense activity of the area is reflected by the word ‘busy’ – the most used word used by interviewed people to describe the high street. The high activity of this area drops at around 4pm, when some shops start closing. At this time, Jarnac Court becomes empty and quiet, except for teenagers who meet here.

Jarnac Court at South St This section of Jarnac Court forms a small courtyard like area, with South St running north-south along its east edge. This smaller scale space with cafés with outdoor seating, good surveillance and active frontages provides a pleasant pedestrian environment. Two cafés in particular add to the public life present in this space via their outdoor seating - Cafe Troy and Continental Cafe - which were observed to both be relatively busy during morning and lunchtime into the early afternoon. Additionally, queues for Greggs in the early afternoon, and those waiting outside for the optician or window shopping at gift shop Special Thoughts added to the public life present. This courtyard space was observed to be a popular meeting and social place. Traffic along South St and cars regularly pulling in to the loading bays adjacent to this part of Jarnac Court did mean there was some traffic noise, but the human scale active frontages, wide smooth pavement and large tree added to a generally pleasant feel. An improvement would involve public seating in this area for those not purchasing food/drink from a cafe, however there is a good range of seating available nearby in the more open area of Jarnac Court. This area was bustling with pedestrians early in the day but became very quiet from 4pm.

Dalkeith High St (East) This eastern section of Dalkeith High St at Tait St is used primarily as a movement route - both by pedestrians and the heavy adjacent multilane traffic. A small parking area on the south side of the high street here (at the junction with Tait St) provides some relief from the narrow pavements in close proximity to the traffic, however a lack of drop kerbs and a sense of car priority means the infrastructure does not currently support a pleasant pedestrian experience - either for walking en route to other destinations or as a place to spend time. Conversely, on the north side of the high street a church courtyard provides a pleasant experience just off the high street for sitting, talking or spending time as a result of the trees, seating and being set back further from the road.


Dalkeith high street

Footfall

106

Overview:

Key findings

Method

Footfall information is helpful because higher numbers of pedestrians are typically associated with increased sales opportunities - particularly for high street retail. By also recording the number of pedestrians ‘supported’ using a wheelchair or stick, carried in a buggy or sling, ‘rolling’ via skateboard or scooter or jogging it is also possible to gain insights into how accessible the high street is for different users and pedestrian movement types.

Analysis of footfall data for Dalkeith showed typically the 12.30pm lunchtime timeslot was busiest with pedestrian movement. The exception to this was at Jarnac Court (B) where the morning (9.30am) and afternoon (4pm) timeslots were slightly busier, with footfall more consistent here throughout the day.

The researcher stands with their back against a wall and counts the number of people walking and cycling past an imaginary line in front of them on the pavement on their side of the road over a 10 minute period.

There was a strong trend for footfall to significantly reduce in late afternoon, with this pattern most significant at Jarnac Court at South St (C). The location with least total footfall over the course of the day was the west section of the High St (A), which had a mean daytime footfall of 106 pedestrians/hour on a Saturday. The highest footfall was recorded at Jarnac Court at South St (C) which averaged 192 pedestrians/hour, followed by Jarnac Court (B) at 153 pedestrians/ hour daytime average. This demonstrates how this larger plaza space is both a and popular central high street destination as well as movement route for those on foot.

eating

assembly &


59

46

D

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS

DALKEITH HIGH STREET (WEST)

35

12NOON

4PM

54

A

C

82 82

JARNAC COURT AT SOUTH ST

JARNAC COURT AT SOUTH ST

49 50

non-residential institutions

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS

professional services

12NOON

9.30AM

12NOON

148

106 B

C

D

4PM DALKEITH HIGH STREET (WEST)

1:5000

192

153 A

9.30AM

vacant

4PM

29

28

shops

12NOON

42 B

9.30AM

9.30AM

43

NO. PEDESTRIANS/10MINS

& leisure

HIGH STREET (EAST)

JARNAC COURT

JARNAC COURT AT SOUTH ST

DALKEITH HIGH ST (EAST)

Mean daytime footfall (pedestrians/hour)

4PM Public Life Study | Dalkeith town centre | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Key Findings

Stationary Activity Overview: Stationary activity and dwell time serve as useful indicators of the extent and quality of public life in a given public space. The ratio of people engaged in ‘staying’ activities compared to passing pedestrians (i.e. footfall) provides insight into how conducive a space is for public life, while individuals’ ‘dwell time’ - measured in minutes - helps assess how enjoyable, useful or otherwise inhabitable a space is for its users. Coupled with qualitative analysis of the types and duration of stationary activities occurring in the space, this provides an overall picture of how the space is used at a given time and allows for evaluation of changes in public life.

Dalkeith high street

Method:

108

Our team of researchers gathered stationary-activity and dwell-time data at each site systematically through a series of three 10-minute observational studies scheduled throughout the day (9:30am, 12:30pm, 4pm). All stationary activity during these times was marked on a map along with approximate dwell time, qualitative notes about the activity and its use of public infrastructure (standing, commercial sitting, public sitting, or ‘multiple movements’ like work or play). These results were collated into maps and bar graphs illustrating patterns of use for each location.

Dalkeith High Street was generally lively with stationary activity all locations, particularly during the lunchtime 12:30pm timeslot and notably less so by 4pm when many local shops were closing. Jarnac Court at B had a markedly higher overall dwell time (60% over 5 minutes) compared to the other locations. Whilst the High Street (West) at A had the highest amount of stationary activity, much of this was relatively fleeting and involved crossing the street, queuing and window shopping. One notable activity across all locations, although present to different degrees, included stopping for short conversations with acquaintances. In Jarnac Court, this was particularly notable when passers-by stopped to talk with others sitting in the area, and locations A and C would likely benefit from additions of public seating to likewise encourage this convivial practice. The interactive and active frontage at B&M (centred on a flower display) on the day of the study attracted considerable activity, and the plentiful space and pedestrian traffic at particularly Jarnac Court (B and C) suggest that similar installations elsewhere on the high street could lead to overall increased dwell time and positive feelings about the space.

A B

High Street from Eskdaille Street

D

1%

99%

9:30 12:30 4pm

Average Dwell Time: 1-5 mins Total Activity: 75

Jarnac Court

C

Total Activity: 134

51%

47%

9:30 12:30 4pm

South Street by Jarnac Court

Average Dwell Time: 5-10 mins Total Activity: 48 79%

21%

9:30 12:30 4pm

High Street at Tait Street 9:30 12:30 4pm

2%

Average Dwell Time: 5-10 mins Total Activity: 63 94%

1% 5%

Average Dwell Time: 1-5 mins

Key Standing Commercial Sitting Public Sitting Multiple Movements


A. Dalkeith High Street (West) Standing

37

65

31

133

Commercial Sitting

0

0

0

0

Public Sitting

0

1

0

1

Multiple Movements

0

0

0

0

Average Dwell Time

1-5

1-5

<1

1-5

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

This was a busy area throughout the day, particularly during the 12:30pm timeslot due to increases in shopping activity. Frequent window shopping, queuing and waiting to cross the street contributed to A having the highest total number of people stopping to spend time here (albeit more fleetingly). B&M’s flower display was especially popular and pedestrians also frequently stopped to chat with acquaintances met on the street. However, despite the highest total number of ‘staying’ behaviours observed of all locations, - A had the lowest average dwell time with 94% of all activity lasting less than 5 minutes, likely related to the absence of public seating and often narrow pavement.

C. South Street by Jarnac Court Standing

19

15

4

38

Commercial Sitting

3

6

0

9

Public Sitting

0

0

0

0

Multiple Movements

0

0

0

0

1-5

5-10

Average Dwell Time

5-10 5-10

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

Most stationary activity at C was concentrated along the edges of the space adjacent to cafés, shops and barbers along the route to the more open space at Jarnac Court. Commercial seating at Café Troy and Continental Café attracted the longest dwell times, although queuing for take-away or appointments was responsible for most of the activity. This was reflected in the sharp drop-off of activity in the 4pm timeslot (4 people total, less than a fifth of activity in each earlier timeslot) when most of these businesses were closed. Like the other 3 locations, however, there were a number of occasions when people stopped for a brief chat with acquaintances.

B. Jarnac Court Standing

12

14

12

38

Commercial Sitting

0

0

0

0

Public Sitting

8

16

11

35

Multiple Movements

0

0

2

2

Average Dwell Time

1-5

5-10 5-10 5-10

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

Jarnac Court was host to consistent and diverse stationary activity throughout the day. The bus stop was in frequent use, and people used the benches and raised planter (near Continental Café) for various activities, including reading, eating lunch, waiting to access local shops and the Miskala hair salon, smoking, chatting with friends or simply passing time. This not only encouraged longer overall dwell times (53% for 5-10+ minutes), but tended to attract passers-by, who on several occasions stopped to talk with acquaintances sitting in the area. The centre of the court also served as a safe impromptu recreation space for children on bicycles in the 4pm slot.

D. High Street (East) at Tait Street Standing

8

29

22

59

Commercial Sitting

1

0

0

1

Public Sitting

0

0

3

3

Multiple Movements

0

0

0

0

Average Dwell Time

<1

1-5

5-10

1-5

9:30 12:30 4pm Total

This area is a busy passing area (pedestrians and traffic). Most stationary activity was observed at the pedestrian crossings at the junction with Edinburgh Road, contributing to the overall shorter dwell time here (over 60% of staying behaviour lasted less than 5 minutes). There was some activity outside restaurants and shops, as people queued for take-away or discussed where to eat. Overall dwell time increased significantly in the 4pm timeslot, with more people spending time throughout the area and 3 groups standing and sitting in the small courtyard beside the churchyard.

Public Life Study | Dalkeith town centre | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Pedestrian Flow: Tracing Studies Overview A tracing study reveals spatially the lines of pedestrian movement and flow within the high street public realm. This can provide an understanding of key movement routes and desire lines within the public space.

Dalkeith high street

Method

110

A researcher visually observes passing users and marks their route over a plan of the high street. By tracing multiple users over a 10 minute period the pattern of dominant movement routes and desire lines can be seen. The researcher also notes down observations about pedestrian flow and behaviour. For example, where the street infrastructure does not facilitate pedestrian’s desired movement or observed reasons pedestrians may be choosing/not choosing certain routes.

Key findings Overall tracing studies revealed considerable pedestrian movement throughout the town centre, with considerable pedestrian flow particularly in the morning and over lunchtime/ early afternoon. The north and south pavements along Dalkeith High St (East and West at A and D) were both similarly well used by pedestrians with no obvious preference for one side of the street. The two locations within Jarnac Court (B and C) show a key movement route from the south end of South St up to/from the north-west of Jarnac Court to the west end of the High St. Dalkeith High St (west) was busy on both sides of the pavement with movement primarily eastwest, some braided crossing to/from the B&M shop on the south side of the street. At Jarnac Court the wider open space facilitates more diverse pedestrian movement patterns. The most dominant route extends between the north-west and south-east corners of the space (toward/from South St), with secondary routes around the edges of the space providing

linear movement between other destinations. This location exhibited the most apparent leisure movement within the space, with younger children and teenagers using the open middle area within the benches for play. At Jarnac Court at South St a smaller courtyard space forms a key pedestrian movement route, with the majority of people walking adjacent to the shop frontages along the south edge and into/from the wider space at Jarnac Court.

A Dalkeith Hi


igh St (West)

D Dalkeith High St (East)

B Jarnac Court

C Jarnac Court at South St


Age + Gender Overview:

Method

Key findings

This research activity was about understanding how diverse the demographic of people occupying or moving through a public space are.

To gather demographic data, four researchers were positioned at points A, B, C, and D in the town centre to collect data for 10 minutes at timeslots throughout the day on a Saturday (9.30am, 12.30pm and 4pm) in May.

A slightly higher proportion of females (54%) to males (46%) were observed in Dalkeith overall, with this trend particularly significant at location C - Jarnac Court at South St.

Dalkeith high street

It is important to note that the ages and genders recorded are an estimation. For more accurate data on this all those observed in the street would need to have been asked about their age and gender identity for this to be an accurate reflection. However this gives a good approximate indication of which age and gender groups are present in a public space, and - by comparing this to neighbourhood demographics - who is under-represented or ‘missing’.

112

The demographic mapping study gave a good general indication of the proportion of females to males in the spaces along the high street as well as insight into the age of high street users. Using I-pads, ‘best guess’ age and gender information data was collected through direct observation and recorded onto pre-prepared iPad sheets in software Procreate. Subsequent analysis was conducted, including a comparison to typical demographic data for the area.

In terms of age, those in the 25-64 category comprised the majority of all people observed - 54% of the total observed across the town centre. The 0-4 years (4%) category was least observed. Those aged 15-24 and 65+ were roughly the same, at 16% and 15% respectively. This highlights that the majority of those visiting Dalkeith High street are of working age between 25 and 64.


D

B A

A: Dalkeith High St (West)

C: Jarnac Court at South St

At this location, the researchers observed a higher proportion of females to males throughout the day (an average of 59%).

Researchers observed a typically even split of males (50.6%) to females (49.4%), though at lunchtime more females were observed than males.

The most common age group observed were 25-64 year olds, at 56% of the total number of people observed across the day. The next most common group was the 15-24 category who represented 21% of the total number observed. There was a relatively high number of over 65s at this location (11% of the total recorded).

A

B

C

C

D

An unusually high number of those aged 5-14 were observed at this location - comprising 24% of the total number observed. Although 25-64 was again the largest category, at 40%, this percentage was significantly lower than the other locations in Dalkeith.

B: Jarnac Court

D: High St (East) at Tait St

At B, an even split between males and females was observed when considering all timeslots. However, the difference fluctuated throughout the day, with more females observed at lunch time.

Researchers observed significantly more males in the morning at D, compared to females, with a 63/37 split. In the morning and late afternoon, however, the difference was much smaller.

Those in the 25-64 category were observed the most, comprising 63% of the total observed. In line with other locations, those in the 0-4 category were observed the least at just 3% (less than at other locations). eating

The age related statistics for location D reflected the other locations in that the most observed group was those in the 25-64 category, however, this was disproportionate to the other locations in terms of percentage, at 78%, by shops far the highest of any category across the four locations in Dalkeith.

assembly & leisure

professional services

Age 0-4 5-14 15-24 25-64 65+

46%

54%

Gender Male Female

Based on 926 total observed people across the town centre

vacant non-residential institutions

Public Life Study | Dalkeith town centre | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


10

9

6

4

5

4

8

5

9

5

10

6

6

7 9

8

10

9

10

2 2

3

4

5

3 5

4

2

6

3 4 5 6 7 8

7

8

7

OT PR

7

4

6

1

2

3

3

8

1 1

3

1

7

2

8

1

9

A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

6

9

G VIN COM MO F FORT O QUALITY

10

THINGS TO SEE [interesting unhindered views, opportunities to people watch]

4

5

9

1 2

4

10

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

Dalkeith high street

8 7 6 5

2

11 1

7

PROTECTION FROM UNPLEASANT SENSORY EXPERIENCES [weather, climate, pollution]

4

8

3

2 2

3

Overall score 6.1

3

3

3

OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

4

3

2

9

5

4

4

9

7

8

5

6

2

114

Each of the four research locations within the high street are assessed individually by the team of researchers. A score out of 10 is decided based on observations and experiential qualities noted whilst in the field. A mean average score is then calculated for each of the four locations to accommodate consideration for different researchers’ experience of the high street at that location as a place. An average for the high street across all locations is also calculated.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY, RECREATION, ACTIVITY [places for play and physical exercise, temporary markets/festivals, space for activity and interaction]

7

5

3

10

6 6

IN G

Y JO EN

7

8

2

Method

9

7

1

10

8

1 1

DIMENSIONED AT HUMAN SCALE [buildings and spaces observe importance of human scale for movement, sense, behaviour, sizing]

11

8

9

2 10

10

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

9

PROTECTION FROM CRIME [feeling safe, natural surveillance, overlapping functions spatially and day + night]

E C TIO N

10

10

M EN T-

The overall place quality of the high street is assessed using an evaluation structure based on Jan Gehl’s ‘12 Quality Criteria’ (Cities for People, 2010). This place assessment framework is based on 12 criteria indicative of an environment conducive to public life.

1

12

GO O DD ESIGN

Overview:

AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

K EPT SAFE

Overall Place Quality

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

Y TA S +

6

5

A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]

Key findings Location B scored highest with a 7.9 average, and high scores (>7) across all but one indicator (3). Whilst location C was similarly high with an average score of 7.2, it received scores of >6 for all indicators. In Dalkeith for the May observations, location D ranked the lowest with an average score of 4.1. It scored 3

or less in indicators 1, 3 and 4 (due to heavy traffic and narrow pavements without drop kerbs), with all indicators scoring less than 6. Location A received average scores across all indicators, with the exception of indicator 9 which received an average score of 1.25.


2

2

3

3 2

OT PR

1

4

3

6

8

1 7

10

3 2

10

8

9

7

6

5

4

1

4

1

2

2

3

3

NG

6 7 10

8

G VIN COM MO F FORT O Y T I QUAL 9

4 5 6

NG

9

5

7

6

4

YI TA +S

5

8

Y JO EN 2

9

OT PR

E C TIO N

-K EPT SAFE

1

Y JO EN

10

4

3

5 4

5

8

9

3

10

7 6

9

6

NG

7 7

2

6

3

10

8

2

4

10 9

1

10

8

9

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

8

G VIN COM MO F FORT O Y T I QUAL 9

10

7

8

5 3 2

5

6

11

3

1

NG

4 8

5

12

Overall score 4.1

4

7

4

2

M EN T

10

OT PR

1

4

3

6

5

8

10

2

1

4

3

6

1

2

D: High St (East) at Tait St

5

YI TA S +

6

7 1

-G O OD DES IGN

9

10

9

8

8 7

NG COM OVI FM FORT QUALITY O

8

5

8

7

5

YI TA +S

6

9

6

9

M EN T

10

10

-G O OD DES IGN

11

5

Overall score 7.2

9

6

7 1

12

4

C: Jarnac Court at South St

3

G VIN COM MO F FORT O Y T I QUAL

8

4

E C TIO N

5

1

-K EPT SAFE

7

3

2

9

3

2

1

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

10

4

6 5

1

1

8

4

7

OT PR

3 2

9

Y JO EN

8

3

4

2

7

GO OD DES IGN

10

EC TIO N

11

10 9

M EN T-

6

12

Overall score 7.9

5

GO OD DES IGN 9

2

1

Y JO EN

-K EPT SAFE

8 7

M EN T-

11

10 9

B: Jarnac Court

EC TIO N

12

Overall score 5.2

10

1

K EPT SAFE

A: Dalkeith High St (West)

7

YI TA +S

5

6

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Interviews Interviews with users of the high street are a useful tool to understand the high street experience from the perspective of the people who inhabit it. They

Dalkeith high street

allow the participants to describe the high street in their own terms, bringing forward elements that might have not been previously considered by the researchers. The open-ended nature of interviews allows the participants to share their own expertise about the high street, allowing new themes and unexpected connections to emerge.

116

During each research day, and at each different timeslot, the research team approached passers-by and occupants of the street asking if they could be interviewed about the local area and their own habits within it. Should a passerby decline being interviewed, the researcher would ask the next third person that walked by. This method ensures that interviewees are recruited in an unbiased fashion. Dependent on how much time an interview had to talk, certain questions were omitted as needed or the conversation adapted. Based on interviewee feedback, the research team adapted questions to be most easily communicated and yield the most relevant insights from participants.

Method

Key Findings

Interviews were designed to last 5-10 minutes. They included questions that cover three main topics: • Routines, • Assessment of the high street • Desired elements.

Interviews conducted with passers-by and business owners tend to show that people see Dalkeith’s high street as a busy place, with an important community dimension, but that has been affected by the pandemic both in terms of a decrease in the number of visitors and in the closing down of shops. Despite these difficulties, a number of interviewees reported that they do spend time in the high street, either while waiting for the bus, or as they meet up with friends.

Routines were addressed with questions about the reasons why the participant is there in the high street, their usual destinations and practices in the street, as well as two questions about online shopping and whether the participant’s online shopping habits have changed during the pandemic. The assessment of the high street was addressed by questions asking if the participant usually spends time in the high street, how would they rate the high street on a scale from 1 to 10, and what three words they would use to describe the area. Finally, desired elements were addressed by asking the participants about shops, services, or other facilities they wish were available in the high street, as well as things they would change to make the area a more pleasant place to spend time in. Using this method, the research team interviewed a total of 36 pedestrians.

Whilst respondents did frequently describe the high street as ‘friendly’, words like ‘depressing’ and ‘dull’ were also common, often mentioning how little they feel there is to do in terms of variety. The materiality and infrastructures of the high street were described as ‘dated’ and ‘run-down’, with particular attention to Jarnac Court as infrastructure in need of renovation. Among the desired elements mentioned by the interviewees, many had to do with making the high street a more pleasant place to spend time in (e.g. planting, more varied seating options and lighting, toilets, etc.). Other suggestions included more outdoor entertainment, like live music and shows. Finally, a significant number of respondents were interested in including a wider variety of shops on the high street, particularly those attractive to younger people and families.


Routines “There’s not much to see during the week. Always the same faces” (Local). The majority of respondents reported that their reason to be in the high street that day was for shopping. Morrisons and B&M were two shops frequently mentioned as part of shopping routines. A variety of other reasons for visiting the street were also given, ranging from visiting friends, to enjoying the weather. By a significant margin, the most used travel modes to get to the town centre were walking and taking the bus. Frequency of visits to the high street ranged from daily to weekly visits. Despite the variety of reasons people gave to visit the street, business owners report that they have seen a very significant decrease in footfall during the last year. Their businesses have been heavily affected by the pandemic, and most of their expectations about the high street revolve around renovations that might attract people back to the area and encourage them to stay longer. Respondents who worked on the high street (either as business owners or employees) stated they had no desire to stay in the area after work. Whilst they recognised it as a convenient place, they did not usually shop there. A significant number of visitors to the high street, however, did report that they often stay a longer time, as part of their routine after doing their shopping. Sitting outside shops, watching people pass by, or spotting friends in the area were often mentioned as routine activities. This social aspect of Dalkeith’s high street was recognised by the interviewees as one of their most used words to describe the area was ‘friendly’. Staying longer in the high street after shopping also has to do with transport logistics. Because an important number of people come to the high street by bus, they will usually wait for their bus

back in Jarnac Court. The social aspect of the high street is an attractive element, but it is counterbalanced by a general feel of lack of excitement in the area that is described by the respondents with the words ‘dated’ and ‘dull’. Visitors to the high street tend to agree on that the area is in need of renovation and a wider variety of activities.

Assessment of the high street “There’s nothing exciting in Dalkeith. Just do what you have to get done” (Local). “All Dalkeith needs is a bump” (Business owner). When asked to assess the high street, interviewees showed a strong tendency to describe it as ‘lacking variety’. This was explained as the street concentrating a number of shops targeting the same needs, while neglecting entertainment, eating places, and a more general offer focused on younger audiences. Some interviewees had a much more content opinion of the high street, stating that the area appropriately covered their shopping needs. The majority of the respondents, however, agreed on that the high street needed to offer a wider of variety of things to do there. In terms of the built environment, many respondents described it as a ‘depressing’ area, with many businesses closing down permanently, as well as a ‘dated’ place in need of refurbishment. Jarnac Court stood out as a main point of concern in this regard, as it was repeatedly described as unattractive and in a state of disrepair. Many interviewees expressed their desire to see the building renovated or even completely replaced with a new one. Other common themes from the interviewees’ assessment of the high street had to do with its

‘busyness’ and the clashes between traffic and other modes of travel. While some respondents complained about the lack of free parking in the high street, others were concerned with what they considered was an excess of motorised traffic.

Desired elements “Make it somewhere you’d actually want to sit” (Local) Consistent with their assessment of the high street, visitors to the Dalkeith town centre suggested a number of changes to add variety to the high street’s offer. These suggestions ranged from incorporating new local, independently owned shops, to more ‘high street shops’ and supermarkets like Primark and Sainsbury’s. Clothes, crafts, and shoe shops were common mentions in this regard. A number of interviewees (both visitors and business owners) suggested that the high street needed more places to eat like restaurants and cafés. This type of offer, as several business owners noted, would attract families to the area and help revitalise it. Business owners also mentioned pubs, like Wetherspoons, which used to act as elements that attracted people to the high street. Another category of desired elements had to do with turning the high street into a more pleasant space to spend time. Respondents showed an interest in refurbishing Dalkeith’s high street both in aesthetic and functional terms. A number of suggestions had to do with improving the local infrastructure, which included better lighting, plant pots, green areas, toilets, and better seating. Other interviewees suggested activities that would make the street more lively and pedestrian-oriented, like closing down traffic in some areas, and live music and outdoor shows.

Public Life Study | Dalkeith town centre | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


Prototyping two high street tweaks

Report produced by Jenny Elliott, Shawn Bodden, Daniel Muñoz-Zech and Ben Murphy as part of EFI’s ‘Future of the High Street’ project.

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20 21

Pilot impact


Pilot Impact: Key Findings Co-Evaluation Principles

Public Life Study

Street + Business Interviews

As part of the Future of the High Street project we developed a ‘Collaborative Evaluation’ approach to understanding project and pilot ‘success’ that allowed on-going input into active project decisionmaking. This included 5 principles, which integrated project aims and participant perspectives about what pilot/project ‘success’ would look like for them. This is helpful to reflect on to analyse pilot impact.

Public Life Studies use direct observation to reveal how the street environment currently functions for public life, pedestrian movement and holistically as a place.

Semi-structured interviews with 70-80 passers-by on each high street allowed us to explore user perspectives about both the high street as a whole and also the pilots. Comparison with the May baseline interview dataset for general high street assessment gave insights into any affect of the pilot on the high street more broadly. Targeted questions about pilot impact on the June research day helped us understand pilot-specific sentiment.

• •

Open Learning - The baseline Public Life Study datasets (for pilot comparative analysis), and this report, will be made publicly available and learnings shared with local stakeholders. Local Participation - At both pilots local businesses and organisations were involved in pilots (e.g. via high street window illustration and co-locating benches in Gorgie-Dalry, discussion with adjacent business owners and organisational stakeholders in both locations) and resident engagement on the day. Professional Exchange - Pilot learnings shared publicly. Pilots fostered new relationships and collaborations. Meaningful Contribution - Pilot legacy of permanent benches (Gorgie-Dalry) and realised, operational Tactical Urbanism Kit (Dalkeith) hosted by local partner. Critical Reflection - Project team reflections on lessons learned and ‘backward flow diagram’ exploring the influence of different insights and engagement in decision-making leading to pilots.

General findings: • Bench prototypes created nodes of public life activity - acting as a hook for increased sitting and staying in the public realm and associated dwell time. • The need for both public and commercial seating to maximise public life and accessibility. • The prototype street furniture’s success in acting as a prop to draw in curious passers-and promote engagement with facilitators. • Using comparative Public Life Studies for pilot evaluation worked well with stationary activity, place quality assessment, researcher observational diaries and interviews, but footfall, tracing and demographic studies require pilots to be in situ for longer (2+ weeks). Location-specific: • Public life and dwell time increased in the section of Dalkeith high street with the TUK pilot. There was a 19% and 26% point increase in people spending 5+ minutes outside at Jarnac Court and South St (respectively). • In Gorgie-Dalry, a 100% increase in people stopping to spend time on the high street adjacent the Dalry Gait pilot, and +43% near Orwell Terrace. • Overall place quality increased 29% at Gorgie-Dalry pilot locations. This included a 91% improvement as ‘a place to sit’, 39% increase for ‘opportunities for conversations’ and 33% increase in aesthetic quality.

General findings: • Whilst passers-by were broadly positive about pilots, the small-scale nature of the pilot benches and prototypes tested wasn’t felt to be enough to address larger core concerns about the high street environment such as traffic, business support and more substantial public realm improvements. Location-specific: • Business owners felt the Tactical Urbanism Kit (TUK) in Dalkeith provided useful temporary infrastructure for their clientele to sit and relax outside shops, or wait for appointments. • The seating and illustration pilot (GorgieDalry) was valued as creating attractive spaces for social interaction and providing much needed rest spots for older people. • User scores for overall place quality of the Gorgie-Dalry high street increased from 5.2 to 6.8 out of 10 with the pilot in situ.


Key Findings

Stationary Activity + Dwell Time Overview Stationary activity and dwell time serve as useful indicators of the extent and quality of public life in a given public space. The ratio of people engaged in ‘staying’ activities compared to passing pedestrians (i.e. footfall) provides insight into how conducive a space is for public life, while individuals’ ‘dwell time’ - measured in minutes - helps assess how enjoyable, useful or otherwise inhabitable a space is for its users. Coupled with qualitative observations about the kinds of activity, this provides a basis for evaluating changes in public life.

Pilot impact analysis

Method & Comparative Analysis

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The team gathered data from four research locations along the high street, and on two different days. This allowed us to compare changes to public life with the prototypes were in place. Stationary activity in each area was recorded on a map over 10-minute intervals and subsequently annotated with each person’s observed dwell time (in minutes) and any additional observations. Having established baseline conditions via a (publicly available) comprehensive Public Life Study in May a control, pilot impact analysis focused specifically on high street locations and time-slots in which prototypes were trialled for comparison. These maps, bar charts and descriptions present differences in public life and dwell time in these locations on Day 1 (control) and Day 2 (with prototype).

Dalkeith The prototypes installed in Dalkeith were located on Jarnac Court and in the courtyard passage leading toward South Street. These were busy locations on both research days, with a variety of public and commercial seating contributing to relatively high dwell times. On Day 2 (with prototypes in place), slightly longer dwell times were found within Jarnac Court and more public life and sitting activity in the east side of Jarnac Court toward South St. This was observed to be due to passers-by stopping to actively engage with the prototypes (as shown in the maps) and additional prototype seating providing more public seating opportunities near South St to complement the commercial seating already present here. This demonstrates potential benefits to nearby businesses who may benefit from additional public life and increased dwell times adjacent to their frontages. For instance, most people who used the benches were either eating food from or waiting for someone shopping in a nearby business. Others stopped to look at or comment on the plants and colourful seating. It also reflected a general interest in the prototype as an eye-catching event. This indicates that, in addition to more permanent infrastructural changes, novel and participatory events can support increased public and commercial activity in Jarnac Court.

Gorgie Dalry In Gorgie Dalry, prototype seating and window illustration activity was initially focussed in two locations on Dalry Road near Orwell Terrace, with one bench later relocated to a third position - the corner pavement area at the junction of Dalry Gait. The previous Public Life Study revealed that the Dalry Road/Orwell Terrace was the busiest site along the whole Gorgie-Dalry high street with significant public life and stationary activity, whereas Dalry Road/Dalry Gait was primarily a passing area with very low dwell time. The positive contributions of the prototype seating in the comparative study (Day 2) were thus most obvious in the second location, where engagement with the bench contributed to a marked increase in dwell time. The prototypes installed in the first area did, however, encourage activity in one relatively under-used space beside the Co-op as well. In each location, there is not presently any public seating. The activity around the prototypes demonstrates that such an addition would be used by pedestrians in the area and could effectively promote higher dwell times that could support adjacent businesses.


Bar Chart Key

Standing Commercial Sitting Public Sitting Multiple Movements

Dalkeith: Jarnac Court (B) Activity Types Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with prototype)

47%

53%

46.5%

Dwell Time 7% 37% Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with prototype) 4% 21%

46.5%

7%

56% 61%

14%

Overall Comparison Day 1 180 people/hour spending time at this location. Avg. dwell time: 5-10mins. Day 2 (with pilot) 168 people/hour* (*Rain reduced footfall across Scottish high streets this day) Avg. dwell time: 5-10mins.

<1 minute 1-5 mins 5-10 mins 10+ mins

Jarnac Court was lively on both research days with a high dwell time thanks to its plentiful public seating and nearby cafés and shops. Public seating was used in a variety of ways - eating lunch, smoke breaks, chats with passers-by and queueing. The prototype seating and plants were installed in a busy area (black rectangle and circle on map). During the observation period, a pedestrian stopped to speak with a representative from NP and two children ate lunch in the colourful lounge chairs before playing in the centre of the square: the novelty of the installation attracted attention and contributed to overall dwell time.

Dalkeith: South Street by Jarnac Court (C) Activity Types Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with prototype)

73% 50%

27% 39%

Dwell Time 27% 45% 14% 14% Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with prototype) 14% 32% 18% 36%

Map Key Day 1 Day 2

Standing Commercial Sitting Public Sitting Multiple Movements

Overall Comparison Day 1 132 people/hour spending time at this location. Avg. dwell time: 5-10mins. Day 2 168 people/hour. Avg. dwell time: 5-10mins.

7% 4%

Stationary activity at the Jarnac Court/ South Street courtyard featured significant commercial activity - especially commercial sitting outside of cafés and queuing for take-away/appointments. This pattern was observed on both research days, but with increased commercial sitting on Day 2 whilst the pilot was in place. The addition of a prototype bench under a tree (black rectangle on map) added non-commercial seating to the space. The bench was used by two people during the 10 minute observation period, and throughout the day people sat on it for both commercial and non-commercial activities: to wait for take-away orders, waiting for queueing family and while making phone calls.


Gorgie-Dalry: Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace (C) Map Key Day 1 Day 2

Standing Commercial Sitting Public Sitting Multiple Movements

Activity Types Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with pilot)

83%

5% 10% 2% 88%

Dwell Time Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with pilot)

53%

33% 48%

2% 7% 3% 7% 7% 33%

2%

17%

On both research days, this area of Dalry Road featured a large amount of stationary activity, though with a relatively low average dwell time (the average brought down due to many people counted waiting to cross the street, stopping to use the ATM, or window shopping). Most activity was standing, plus frequent commercial sitting outside Clock Cafe, informal public sitting in front of Co-op and window-shopping. During the observation, several passers-by stopped to talk about the prototypes (black circles on map). Activity increased significantly around pilots compared to Day 1 (see next page for more details).

Overall Comparison Day 1 252 people/hour spending time at this location. Avg. dwell time: 1-5mins. Day 2 (with pilot) 360 people/hour. Avg. dwell time: 1-5mins.

Gorgie-Dalry: Dalry Road at Dalry Gait (D)

Pilot impact analysis

Activity Types Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with pilot)

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Dwell Time Day 1 (control) Day 2 (with pilot)

100% 73% 69% 12%

Overall Comparison Day 1 78 people/hour spending time at this location. Avg. dwell time: <1min. Day 2 (with pilot) 156 people/hour. Avg. dwell time: 1-5mins.

12% 7.5% 7.5%

31% 53%

12%

Bar Chart Key

Standing Commercial Sitting Public Sitting Multiple Movements

23%

<1 minute 1-5 mins 5-10 mins 10+ mins

Of all of the locations observed, the area around Dalry Gait exhibited the most significant increase in activity and dwell time. Most stationary activity was fleeting on Day 1, with people pausing to cross the street or answer a phone call. More people passed through the area on Day 2 overall, but commercial sitting by 1926 and active engagement with the prototype bench (black rectangle on map) shifted the average dwell time up a band. During the observation period, one person used the bench to adjust their shopping bags, while two others sat down to eat take-away from a nearby shop. It thus supported commercial activities in addition to public sitting.


Dalry Road at Orwell Terrace

Although relatively quiet in the first Public Life Study, this stretch of pavement was particularly busy during the second research day, with a 10+ min. average dwell time. This was due to click-and-collect services at two stores, including of mobility scooters.

Of all of the sites examined, the area on Dalry Road near Orwell Terrace was consistently the busiest with public life and activity. While the overall analysis of stationary activity in this report is focused on the changes in public life when the prototypes were in situ, our studies recorded other notable changes and patterns that could inform future activities and interventions in the area. By providing the complete stationary activity data collected from our busiest site here, we highlight some of the other observations that this methodological approach has enabled.

The terraced space in front of Co-op harbours a large quantity and diverse range of stationary activity throughout the entire day although designed as a passage in and out of the store. Changes here are likely to affect many people’s experience in the area.

Key The end of Orwell Terrace, including the pavement, is regularly occupied by delivery vehicles. This and the nearby bins takes up considerable pedestrian space.

Day 1 9:00 12:30 4:00

Day 2 12:30 3:30 4:00

Standing Commercial Sitting Public Sitting Multiple Movements


Street Interviews: Gorgie-Dalry Overview

Pilot impact analysis

Interviews with users of the high street are a useful tool to understand the high street experience from the perspective of the people who inhabit it. They allow the participants to describe the high street in their own terms, bringing forward elements that might have not been previously considered by the researchers. The open-ended nature of interviews allows the participants to share their own expertise about the high street, allowing new themes and unexpected connections to emerge.

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Gorgie Dalry high street Method & Comparative Analysis

Key Findings

Interviews were designed to last between 5 and 10 minutes. They included questions covering two main areas:

The pilots were, in general, favourably seen by the respondents, who described them as attractive-looking, useful as a space for social gathering, and a potential shelter against the traffic in the area. The pilots’ presence, however, did not change the general assessment of the high street, which was still perceived as a busy area whose shops are struggling to remain open. While the pilots had a high average score in terms of how much they improve the aesthetic appeal of the high street (3.9 out of 5), their impact on improving the attraction of people to businesses is inconclusive. Respondents gave the pilots relatively low scores in terms of how much they improve people’s awareness of businesses around them and how likely they are to visit these businesses (average of 2.3 out of 5 in both instances).

(1) assessment of the high street, and (2) assessment of the pilots. The assessment of the street was covered with the same questions used during our research days in May. This allowed us to compare the results of the interviews conducted during each research day. Assessment of the pilots was addressed by directly asking the interviewees about their opinions on the window illustration and pilot benches. Additionally, respondents were asked to rate, on a scale from 1 to 5, how much they felt the pilots improved: (a) the aesthetic appeal of the place, (b) their desire to visit the high street, (c), their change to stay longer in the area, (d) their awareness of businesses around the pilots, and (e) how likely they are to visit the high street businesses.

Some respondents were sceptical of the specific design of the prototype benches, which they saw as vulnerable to getting graffitied or broken. However, passers-by generally saw these benches as a good example of changes that could make the high street more attractive and people-oriented, as they functioned as a social hub for visitors to interact with one another.


“We loved the illustrations done on our window. We still have it up and it still looks amazing. We’ve had lots of people commenting saying how lovely it is. Lots of people stop as they walk past to look at it. So nice to have someone spend time to put their artwork in the window. Would totally take part in this again.” CJ’s Cafe, Dalry

Assessment of the high street

Assessment of the pilots

Interviewees’ assessment of Gorgie-Dalry high street during the pilot was not significantly different from their impressions during the May baseline study. Respondents gave the high street an average score of 6.8 out of 10, usually recognising its positive features (e.g. having friendly and polite people, being convenient, being close to the city centre) as well as its negative elements (e.g. lack of green spaces, dense and noisy traffic). While this average score is higher than the one obtained in May of 5.2 (a 31% increase), it is not possible to affirm that this is due in part or whole due to the positive effect of the pilots being tested. Other factors, like the weather, the number of people present in the street, and the number of shops open at the time can also affect how people perceive the street at any given time, however positive user interviews support the contention they had at least some impact.

Pilots present on the research day were located on Dalry Road. These included three bench locations (outside Co-op, Chapter One Coffee and Edinburgh Barbers), and window illustration by a professional artist at numerous businesses along Dalry Road. The seating spaces attracted pedestrians, facilitating spontaneous conversation between high street users and the research team. These conversations focused on both pilots and general street characteristics.

“Busy” and “loud” were the two most used words by the respondents to describe GorgieDalry, which are consistent with the image of the high street that interviewees had in May. Other commonly-used words included “run-down”, “traffic”, “community” and “friendly”. Users of the high street see it as a convenient place that lends itself to friendly interactions between people, but that is affected by intense traffic and that is struggling to stay an open and vibrant space.

The majority of respondents saw the pilots, especially the benches, as a positive element in the high street. They were valued as a space for people to potentially encounter one another and interact, strengthening the local community. Interviewees described positive aspects of the benches including creating a shield against traffic, and making the high street more welcoming for older people in need of more frequent rest and seating spaces. This is reflected by relatively high scores given for pilots improving their desire to visit the high street and stay for a longer time (average 3.0 out of 5). Passers-by also described the benches as “eyecatching” and “attractive” - consistent with their average ‘aesthetic appeal’ score (3.9 out of 5).

Overall, most interviewees felt pilot interventions provided a useful tool to make the high street a more relaxing and inviting space. Other interviewees, while not dismissive of the pilots, had a more sceptic view of the prototype benches, giving feedback that these initial pilots were quite vulnerable and not very solid. This raised concerns about whether they are easy to break or, since the benches were blank, whether they would be graffitied. Other critical views about the benches involved their placement, which was seen by some as ideally needing additional shelter to function well as a seating space. Finally, a smaller number of respondents questioned the intervention itself, arguing that the high street was not a place for sitting down and relaxing, but for walking through to do necessary tasks, which made the intervention feel somehow out of place and demonstrates the need to situate these in positions set back slightly from the main pedestrian thoroughfare.


Street Interviews: Dalkeith Overview Interviews with users of the high street are a useful tool to understand the high street experience from the perspective of the people who inhabit it. They allow participants to describe the high street in their own terms, bringing forward elements that might have not been previously considered by the researchers.

Method and Comparative Analysis

Pilot impact analysis

Interviews typically lasted 5-10 minutes. They included questions covering two main areas: (1) assessment of the high street, and (2) assessment of the pilots.

126

Pilot impact on the high street more broadly was understood via asking the same questions used during our baseline May research day and comparing results. Pilot assessment was addressed by directly asking interviewees their opinions of the Tactical Urbanism Kit pilot activity. Respondents also rated, on a scale from 1 to 5, how much they felt the pilots improved: (a) the aesthetic appeal of the place, (b) their desire to visit the high street, (c) their change to stay longer in the area, (d) their awareness of businesses around the pilots, and (e) how likely they are to visit the high street businesses. Business owners were also interviewed about any pilot impact for their businesses.

Dalkeith high street Key Findings

Assessment of the high street

The pilots were generally well-received by visitors to the high street and business owners, particularly regarding their positive impact on the aesthetic appeal of the place. They were seen as a good example of positive changes to the area, potentially attracting younger people, as well as improving the experience of older people and children visiting the high street. Business owners, in particular, saw these additional seating spaces as useful for their clientele to sit and relax outside shops, or wait for their appointments.

During this research day, the interviewees’ assessment of the high street was not significantly different from their impressions during the research day in May. Respondents gave the high street an average score of 4.75 out of 10 while emphasising its negative elements, which was consistent with the image presented by people during the May research day. Dalkeith’s high street was described as lacking greenery or green areas, and generally afflicted by an economic depression that could be seen in shops closing down. The general depression in the area was reflected by a lack of activities or attractive elements, a feeling summarised in a phrase commonly used by respondents: “There’s nothing here”. Public toilets, sheltered seating spaces, and accessibility for disabled people were also mentioned as elements that the high street was missing.

However, a number of respondents also stressed that these pilots were not sufficient to address the high street’s more pressing and larger-scale matters, reflected in their assessment of the high street. Still seen as a ‘dull’ and ‘grey’ space, Dalkeith’s high street (particularly Jarnac Court) was described as in need of building renovations and more attractive and diverse shops.

Consistent with this image of a space lacking activities and dynamism, the most used word by respondents to describe the high street were “dull”, “run-down”, and “boring”. “Busy” was also well used, reflecting the pedestrians’ view of a street that sees an important amount of activity and traffic during the day.


Assessment of the pilot The Tactical Urbanism Kit was situated in Jarnac Court. It included an ‘event’ installation with a bench, plants, and project team facilitators engaging with passers-by; and an extra bench available for the public seating outside Continental Café/Cafe Troy. The pilots, especially the ‘event’ space in Jarnac Court, attracted pedestrians and facilitated conversation between users of the high street and the research team. These conversations focused on the pilots as well as the general characteristics of the street.

Other participants felt unclear about the benches’ purpose given the different aesthetic to other high street infrastructure - asking if they could sit on them. Some interviewees argued that the benches looked ‘unfinished’ or somehow out of place, producing a mismatch with the perceived general aesthetics of the high street. “I would expect to have this in a nice place, not here!” said one interviewee, expressing a feeling that the new benches challenged their own view of the area.

The majority of respondents saw the pilots as positive elements in the high street. They were valued as attractive-looking elements that were spacious and convenient, scoring a relatively high perceived positive impact on the aesthetic appeal of the place (average 3.6 out of 5). Respondents emphasised how these additional, colourful seating spaces are useful for older people and children, which in turn can be attractive to families and the general public. A number of interviewees saw this as a good example of the type of things they would like to see more of in the high street. This was reflected by average scores for how much the pilots improved their desire to visit the high street (3.0 out of 5).

While some respondents saw the temporary bench, stool and other kit parts as potentially complementing further improvements to the area (like planting or flower baskets), others showed a more sceptic approach to the pilots. While not dismissive of this street furniture’s attractive features, they saw these installations as elements that do not significantly impact their core concerns about the high street. These interviewees thought that the area needed major refurbishment, which included building renovation and attracting more diverse businesses. This perspective is reflected by the relatively lower average scores that respondents gave to how much the pilots improved their

desire to stay longer in the high street (2.7 out of 5), as well as their awareness of businesses around (2.6 out of 5), and how likely they are to visit these businesses (2.6 out of 5). Similar to pedestrians, business owners were ambivalent about the impact of the pilots. The majority of the business owners interviewed were optimistic about the possibility of having extra seating nearby, as these elements would incentivise visitors to sit down and relax, which could improve the possibility of them visiting the shops nearby. The benches, they expressed, would attract more young people and social media activity, benefiting businesses around. Some shops, like the beauty salon Miskala, said that they specifically need more attractive seating spots for their clients waiting outside for their appointment. Overall, business owners showed interest and optimism about the benches’ potentially beneficial impact on their business. They also stressed, however, that the high street needs further more wideranging changes including general building renovation in Jarnac Court, and a more diverse offer of shops in the area.


May baseline: Overall score 5.3 June with pilot: Overall score 5.9 Key Baseline Pilot

4

7

5

8 9

6

10

IN G

7

AY ST + NG OVI M F O 8

9

10

8 7 6

4

5

5 6

2 2

3 3

4

4 5 6 7

8 10

5

4

5

3

7 9

6

1 1

4

7

1

2

3

3

2

6

2

1

7

1

8 9 10

THINGS TO SEE [interesting unhindered views, opportunities to people watch]

A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

6

COM FORT QUALITY

7

4

5

8

10

9

8

7

6

5

3

10

9

11 1

1

8

2

4

9

5

9

6

3

2 2

4

10

9 8 7

3

3

3

3

8

4

3

OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

5

4

4

PROTECTION FROM UNPLEASANT SENSORY EXPERIENCES [weather, climate, pollution]

4

10

5

6

3

9

7

5

2

Pilot impact analysis

6 6

2

Y JO EN

7

8

2

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY, RECREATION, ACTIVITY [places for play and physical exercise, temporary markets/festivals, space for activity and interaction]

9

7

2 10

1

10

8

2

DIMENSIONED AT HUMAN SCALE [buildings and spaces observe importance of human scale for movement, sense, behaviour, sizing]

11

8

9

PROTECTION FROM CRIME [feeling safe, natural surveillance, overlapping functions spatially and day + night]

10

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

9

1 1

Each high street is assessed at four points distributed along its full length. This is done individually by research team members to accommodate their different perspectives and experiences. They each give a score out of 10 for each of the 12 qualities based on their own observations. A mean average score is calculated for each place quality and in each of the 4 locations. An average score for the high street across all locations is also calculated.

10

M EN T

128

Method

10

OT PR

12

-G O OD DES IGN

A baseline place quality assessment was conducted as part of the May Public Life Study. By repeating this again in June with the pilots in situ we can compare any differences in overall place quality and/or individual indicators both for the high street as a whole, and at the specific research locations pilots were in situ.

1

EC TIO N

AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

Overview: The overall place quality of the high street is assessed using an evaluation structure based on Jan Gehl’s ‘12 Quality Criteria’ (Cities for People, 2010). This place assessment framework is based on 12 criteria indicative of an environment conducive to public life.

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

-K E PT S AFE

High Street Place Quality Gorgie-Dalry

Gorgie-Dalry: overall place quality (average across high street)

6

5

A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]


Gorgie-Dalry: key findings

Gorgie-Dalry: overall place quality (average at pilot locations) May baseline: Overall score 4.9 June with pilot: Overall score 6.3 Key Baseline Pilot

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

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AY ST + NG OVI M F O 8

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THINGS TO SEE [interesting unhindered views, opportunities to people watch]

A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

6

COM FORT QUALITY

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

PROTECTION FROM UNPLEASANT SENSORY EXPERIENCES [weather, climate, pollution]

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY, RECREATION, ACTIVITY [places for play and physical exercise, temporary markets/festivals, space for activity and interaction]

9

7

2

Y JO EN

9

1 1

10

9

M EN T

DIMENSIONED AT HUMAN SCALE [buildings and spaces observe importance of human scale for movement, sense, behaviour, sizing]

11

-G O O DD ESIGN

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

-K E PT S AFE

10

PROTECTION FROM CRIME [feeling safe, natural surveillance, overlapping functions spatially and day + night]

OT PR

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10

EC TIO N

AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

6

5

A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]

Place quality assessment for Gorgie-Dalry showed an increase between the baseline (control) in May and the repeat in June with the pilot in place. The overall high street place quality score (including data from all four high street locations) was 5.3 in May and 5.9 in June (an 11% increase). When including just data from the two research locations adjacent to the pilot seating and window illustration (Dalry Road near Orwell Terrace and Dalry Gait) the overall place quality score increased more significantly - from 4.9 in May to 6.3 in June (a 29% increase). Comparison of the diagrams adjacent, showing overall (all 4 high streets locations) place quality scores for Gorgie-Dalry high street and those at pilot locations, clearly shows a marked increase in 11 out of 12 place quality criteria at pilot locations, with more minimal increases/mixed results for the high street overall. These considerable increases in June scores at pilot locations compared to May (baseline) scores and also in comparison to more minimal score changes across the rest of the high street (and no other significant changes to the high street environment observed by researchers) indicate that it is likely the pilots are the result for score increases. This is supported by research team score annotations indicating the rationale for June scores were frequently influenced positively by the preesence of pilots. Researcher comments were also supported by and aligned with user interview insights. In particular, the pilot locations showed a 3.5 point jump for place quality criteria ‘a place to sit’ (a 91% increase compared to the baseline study), a 1.8 point jump for ‘opportunities for conversations’ (39% increase) and ‘dimensioned at human scale’ (32% increase), a 1.6 point jump for ‘opportunities to enjoy positive aspects of climate’ and a 1.3 point jump for ‘aesthetic quality’ (33% increase) and ‘protection from traffic’ (28% increase) in June with the pilot seating areas and live window illustration in situ.

Public Life Study | Gorgie-Dalry Road | Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute | Part of project ‘Future of the High Street’ | 2021


May baseline: Overall score 6.1 June with pilot: Overall score 5.9 Key Baseline Pilot

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8 9 10

THINGS TO SEE [interesting unhindered views, opportunities to people watch]

A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

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COM FORT QUALITY

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

5

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PROTECTION FROM UNPLEASANT SENSORY EXPERIENCES [weather, climate, pollution]

4

10

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6

3

9

7

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2

Pilot impact analysis

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2

Y JO EN

7

8

2

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY, RECREATION, ACTIVITY [places for play and physical exercise, temporary markets/festivals, space for activity and interaction]

9

7

2 10

1

10

8

2

DIMENSIONED AT HUMAN SCALE [buildings and spaces observe importance of human scale for movement, sense, behaviour, sizing]

11

8

9

PROTECTION FROM CRIME [feeling safe, natural surveillance, overlapping functions spatially and day + night]

10

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

9

1 1

Each high street is assessed at four points distributed along its full length. This is done individually by research team members to accommodate their different perspectives and experiences. They each give a score out of 10 for each of the 12 qualities based on their own observations. A mean average score is calculated for each place quality and in each of the 4 locations. An average score for the high street across all locations is also calculated.

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M EN T

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Method

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OT PR

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-G O OD DES IGN

A baseline place quality assessment was conducted as part of the May Public Life Study. By repeating this again in June with the pilots in situ we can compare any differences in overall place quality and/or individual indicators both for the high street as a whole, and at the specific research locations pilots were in situ.

1

EC TIO N

AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

Overview: The overall place quality of the high street is assessed using an evaluation structure based on Jan Gehl’s ‘12 Quality Criteria’ (Cities for People, 2010). This place assessment framework is based on 12 criteria indicative of an environment conducive to public life.

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

-K EPT SAFE

High Street Place Quality Dalkeith

Dalkeith: overall place quality (average across high street)

6

5

A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]


Dalkeith: key findings

Dalkeith: overall place quality (average at pilot locations) May baseline: Overall score 7.5 June with pilot: Overall score 7.3 Key Baseline Pilot

PROTECTION FROM TRAFFIC [accidents, fumes, noise, visible presence]

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A PLACE TO WALK [room, accessibility, no obstacles, quality surfaces, interesting facades]

6

COM FORT QUALITY

8 9 10

THINGS TO SEE [interesting unhindered views, opportunities to people watch]

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PROTECTION FROM UNPLEASANT SENSORY EXPERIENCES [weather, climate, pollution]

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9

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8

6

2

OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONVERSATIONS [seating arrangements conducive to talking, low ambient noise for listening]

7

5 5

10

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6

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10

7

2

1

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PLAY, RECREATION, ACTIVITY [places for play and physical exercise, temporary markets/festivals, space for activity and interaction]

9

2

Y JO EN

9

1 1

10

9

M EN T

DIMENSIONED AT HUMAN SCALE [buildings and spaces observe importance of human scale for movement, sense, behaviour, sizing]

11

-G O O DD ESIGN

OPPORTUNITIES TO ENJOY POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CLIMATE [places to sit, positioned in sunny spots, mitigation of wind]

K EPT SAFE

10

OT PR

12

PROTECTION FROM CRIME [feeling safe, natural surveillance, overlapping functions spatially and day + night]

EC TIO N

AESTHETIC QUALITY [quality, design, detailing, rich sensory experience, views/vistas]

6

5

A PLACE TO STOP AND STAND [attractive functional edges, opportunities to lean/stand, defined spots and room for staying]

A PLACE TO SIT [defined places to sit, views/peoplewatching, good mix of public and cafe/commercial seating, frequency of seating for resting en route]

Place quality assessment for Dalkeith showed little change between the baseline (control) in May and the repeat in June with the Tactical Urbansim Kit in place. The overall high street place quality score (including data from all four high street locations) was 6.1 in May and 5.9 in June. When including just data from the two research locations adjacent to the pilot (at Jarnac Court and South St) the overall place quality score was 7.5 in May and 7.3 in June. This minimal change is likely to be due to the range of small-scale changes (both positive and negative for public life) that were in place in June that weren’t in May. For example, in addition to the pilot event (featuring prototoype seating, other ‘kit’ components and discussion that may have boosted criteria relating sitting/standing opportunities and ‘things to see’), there was also a significant amount of scaffolding present at South Street (in close proximity to the pilot) which hindered views and walkability in this area and restricted the aesthetic quality of this part of the high street. In addition the June pilot day was more cloudy and occasionally rainy - a weather pattern seen nationwide at the time - which typically reduced high street footfall by 50% (data: Springboard). This may have slightly reduced criteria 7 ‘things to see’ due to limited opportunities to people watch. This was supported by business owners on the day commenting how quiet the high street was compared to ‘usual’. Given the range of multiple small-scale changes in the high street environment between May and June it is hard to establish the impact of the pilots using general high street place quality criteria. However, it is interesting to compare overall place quality (all 4 high street research spots) with just the two pilot locations at Jarnac Court and South St. This shows Jarnac Court/South St had higher average scores than elsewhere on the high street (with or without pilot), indicating this part of the town centre is generally more favourable for public life.


Report produced by the Edinburgh Futures Institute in July 2021

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