Residents call for ‘noisy’ cobbled streets to be tarmacked

Neighbours in Comely Bank in Edinburgh have appealed to the council to cover the cobbled stones.

Residents call for ‘noisy’ cobbled streets to be tarmacked georgeclerk via IStock
Noise: Edinburgh residents complain drivers speeding over cobbled streets is keeping them up at night.

Residents are lobbying for iconic cobbled streets in Edinburgh to be covered with tarmac because they are “too noisy”.

Neighbours in the Comely Bank area of Edinburgh have appealed to have the streets – which are protected by heritage conservation rules – smoothed over because the noise of drivers speeding over the stones is keeping them awake at night.

The City of Edinburgh Council has described the cobbled stones, known as “setts” as “adding significant historic and cultural value to the streets of Edinburgh and are an important feature of our cityscape”.

But neighbours have complained they are in poor condition and the noise of a car travelling over them is loud enough to wake people up.

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Resident Chris Bradley presented a petition to the local authority’s Transport and Environment Committee.

At a virtual meeting of the committee, Mr Bradley said: “These three roads have become major thoroughfares for more and more traffic as time goes by and the covering on the roads is quite badly damaged.

“The issue we have got is one of noise and the health implications of the noise.

“A taxi can come up Comely Bank Avenue at 40mph in the middle of the night and it wakes me up.

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“When I was doing the petition I went round and knocked on a lot of doors and there were many people who were well into the idea of some sort of traffic-calming measures and/or tarmacking of the streets.

“The setts are in very poor condition and we have a huge traffic volume.”

The roads mooted to be covered in tarmac are Comely Bank Avenue, Dean Park Crescent and Learmonth Terrace, where house prices are around £790,000 for a four-bed house.

Hal Osler, Lib Dem councillor for Inverleith, which includes Comely Bank, said she backed the council policy of retaining setted streets and urged an inspection of the streets and traffic speed surveys.

However, she claimed one resident using a decibel app on her phone had found an average noise level of 86 decibels and pointed out the level at which employers had to provide hearing protection for staff was 85.

Max Mitchell, a Conservative councillor for the ward, said he would struggle to support tarmac-ing over the cobbles but suggested setted humps could help reduce speeds.

Despite claims about the poor state of the streets, a council official told the committee a recent inspection did not find any issues which required urgent repairs.

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A report said physical traffic calming measures were generally only considered where there was either a history of speed-related collisions or average speeds remained excessively high after other speed reduction measures had been tried.

Committee convener Lesley Macinnes said the call for smoothing over the cobbles ran completely counter to the council’s policy on setted streets and proposed noise monitoring should be carried out.

She said: “Let’s establish the scale of the issue and that would help us to understand what the next steps might be.

“I don’t believe we should be sending officers down a route when we haven’t established the scale of the issue.”