Now in its third year, Community Links PLUS seeks big, bold and innovative projects which will restore the balance of Scotland’s streets in favour of people walking and cycling.
Previous successful entries have demonstrated an integrated approach to place-making, integrating community engagement, urban design, and promotion of walking and cycling to generate projects on a scale not yet seen in Scotland.
Aim of Community Links Plus
The aim of Community Links PLUS is to create inspirational examples of high-quality infrastructure, and more widely to encourage:
- the delivery of more ambitious cycling and walking infrastructure across Scotland;
- an increase in the number of aspirational projects being submitted to Sustrans Scotland’s Community Links grant programme;
- greater understanding of what high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure looks and feels like amongst families, communities, and decision makers; and
- a demonstration of the wider benefits that cycling and walking brings, including positive impacts on health and wellbeing, the quality of the environment and public realm, strengthened local economies and increased road safety.
Community Links PLUS is a two-stage design competition, funded by the Scottish Government. Stage One is for initial Expressions of Interest. Up to ten projects are then selected to proceed to Stage Two, each receiving a grant of up to £50,000 to develop their proposals further. Up to five projects are then invited to proceed to construction, each receiving a grant of up to £50,000 to finalise their detailed proposals and present to a cross-sector expert panel, before full match funding grants are allocated.
2016-17 Community Links PLUS winners
On September 18 2017, the Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, announced that all five finalists of the 2016-17 competition will be awarded a grant of up to 50% of the total project costs, totalling £22,540,360, from Transport Scotland funds, delivered through Sustrans Scotland.
Minister for Transport Humza Yousaf said:
“I am delighted to announce this morning that all five Community Links PLUS shortlisted projects have been successful in securing funding from the Scottish Government.
“The expert panel who evaluated the bids were impressed by the local authorities’ high level of design and innovation. Each bid is entirely worthy of receiving support today and I want to thank the panel, Sustrans and each local authority who took the time to get involved in the award.
“Our ambitious Active Nation initiative is designed to encourage many more of us to make everyday and leisure journeys sustainably - on foot and by bike. To achieve this vision, we are doubling our investment in active travel, from £40 to £80 million each year, demonstrating our commitment to make our towns and cities more walking and cycling friendly.
“Through the Community Links PLUS award, people will be able to enjoy new active travel routes and whether it is for commuting or leisure, more people across Scotland will be able to enjoy the benefits of greener and healthier modes of transport.”
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
“Climate Week is an opportunity to get more people talking about and taking action on climate change, and I am pleased to be supporting the Community Links Plus active travel project, enabling more people to walk and cycle more often.
“We all have a role to play in taking action on climate change, and this is a fantastic example of how people can reduce their own carbon footprint through using greener modes of travel.”
Sustrans Scotland Deputy Director for Built Environment Daisy Narayanan said: “Funding all five final projects is a bold step towards a healthier, more sustainable and vibrant Scotland which designs places around the needs of people over vehicular access.
“The Community Links PLUS proposals were so impressive this year that the panel felt strongly that all the five final proposals should become a reality. We thank the Minster for Transport and the Islands for taking the unprecedented step of committing to fund each of the five finalists.
“With the backing of Transport Scotland, Sustrans will now work in partnership with all four local authorities to turn their pioneering visions into reality. These five exemplar projects will demonstrate the wide ranging benefits that well designed places bring, such as boosting footfall for local business, improving the health of local people and creating safer environments that are more pleasant to live in and move through.”
The five winning projects
Glasgow City Council: Woodside Mini-Holland
This year’s entry from Glasgow City Council, Woodside Mini-Holland, takes inspiration from transport infrastructure in the Netherlands and proposes to deliver an exemplar cycle friendly neighbourhood in the Woodside community.
Part of the project will include a segregated cycle route along St George’s Road from Charing Cross to Possil Road and will connect to the Sauchiehall Street “Avenue” cycleway that is currently being delivered through the Sauchiehall and Garnethill Regeneration Framework.
The proposal also includes the expansion of the cycle network into the city centre, Great Western Road, Maryhill, Garscube Road and the Forth and Clyde Canal in a bid to encourage cycling as the favoured commuter option.
In addition to the health and wellbeing benefits that the extensive cycle network brings to the surrounding area, the creation of Woodside Mini-Holland will strengthen local economies and increase road safety.
Pedestrian and cycle crossing facilities at St George’s Cross Subway station will also undergo major redesign in order to improve accessibility to the station and surrounding streets.
The City of Edinburgh Council: The West Edinburgh Active Travel Network
The West Edinburgh Active Travel Network’ proposes to transform the west of Edinburgh into a high quality Dutch-inspired cycle and pedestrian friendly neighbourhood.
Included in plans is the creation of an attractive, direct and convenient cycling and walking route from the Roseburn area to the major business district of Edinburgh Park. The route will connect popular locations within a cycleable distance of 1-5km.
Destinations along the route include the Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot Watt campuses, the Gyle shopping centre and business park, new housing developments at East Craigs and Cammo, and existing communities Stenhouse, Broomhouse, Saughton, Sighthill and Wester Hailes.
This major overhaul will see one of the most car-dominated parts of Edinburgh transformed into an active travel hotspot.
The City of Edinburgh Council: Meadows to George Street – Streets for People
The project proposes to create a direct cycle link between The Meadows and George Street, connecting the Old and New towns of the city centre along Hanover Street, The Mound, Bank Street, North Bank Street, George IV Bridge and Forrest Road.
The project aims to provide a major redesign for walking and cycling in the city, creating safe, coherent and attractive routes through the city centre. With over one third of people in Edinburgh cycling at least once a month and a total of 16.5 million bike journeys made annually, the implementation of strategic cycle infrastructure in a city centre location would potentially increase this level and encourage cycling as the favoured commute option city wide.
The Highland Council: Inverness City Active Travel Network
The ambitious proposal plans to strengthen the Inverness City Active Travel Network that connects all of the city’s communities with the centre, as well as developing seamless and segregated cycle-friendly routes along Millburn Road, Academy Street and the Raigmore Interchange.
The plans propose a major overhaul of Millburn Road with the removal of one lane of general traffic in place of a fully segregated cycle path. A westbound bus lane and footpath will also be introduced, transforming the area into a less congested and pedestrian friendly area. A signalised junction will also become a feature of Millburn Road with separate signals for pedestrians and cyclists.
Academy Street will also undergo a similar transformation with the implementation of a one-way cycle track with buffer zones off the main carriageway behind the parking and loading areas.
The city wide active travel network also plans to create a ramp from the Raigmore Interchange to the Golden Bridge that would see construction of a cycle and pedestrian friendly route to the Inverness Campus.
Stirling Council: Walk, Cycle, Live
The City Boulevard and Cowane Street project compromises of two key active travel routes that will allow Stirling to operate as a sustainable and vibrant city which is attractive to businesses, residents and visitors.
The focal point of the first route, City Boulevard, is to improve the environment and streetscape along the A811 from Dumbarton Road, along Albert Place and Upper Craigs. Included in this will be the introduction of more generously sized pedestrian routes, creating a boulevard feel and connecting the city centre to the City Park.
Route two proposes to improve the environment and streetscape along Goosecroft Road, Cowane Street and onward to Stirling University. Currently the B8052 forms one of the key routes into Stirling City Centre and priorities vehicles. The project aims to make the road accessible to all users and redesign road crossings in order to improve accessibility.
The integrated network would act as a direct link between Stirling City Centre and Stirling Bridge and continue onwards to the communities of Raploch, Cornton, Causewayhead and Bridge of Allan.
2015-16 Community Links Winner
The winner of the inaugural 2015-16 competition was Glasgow City Council's ‘South City Way’ project. This will run from Queen's Park, along Victoria Road, to the Merchant City district, improving facilities for those on foot, creating more vibrant streets, and creating a 3km segregated cycleway from the densely-populated Southside of Glasgow into the city centre.
The project will improve the look and feel of the area and help give the city one of the most cohesive, high-quality urban cycle networks in the UK.
Glasgow City Council was awarded £3,250,000, which they are match funding to create a total project fund of £6,500,000.
Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, Scottish Government said: “The quality of all five final bids was extremely high in this new and exciting infrastructure competition and I am delighted to see the winner announced. Glasgow City Council has shown real ambition and vision towards improving conditions for people who choose to walk or cycle along a major commuter belt, while also connecting a densely-populated area with the city centre.”