NEW "cafe culture" plans to improve one of Edinburgh’s busiest shopping thoroughfares after a year-long part pedestrianisation trial are due to be unveiled by designers.

Edinburgh City Council has appointed Ironside Farrar to use the information gleaned from the George Street experiment to come up with “design principles” for a long-term layout for the street.

Previous studies found more people than before were out and about on George Street during the trial and people were lingering longer, spending around three hours on average when visiting the street.

A cycle lane was also included in the trial and parts of the street closed to traffic.

In September 2014 the street was transformed with the introduction of a dedicated two-way cycle lane and a one-way system for general traffic and buses.

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The council had an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order in place to test out different types of street layout.

Quarterly meetings have been held, encouraging feedback from more than 1,500 interested members of the public and businesses, which will be used to inform a long-term design.

Both sides of the street were reopened to traffic on a block-by-block basis in September, along with the implementation of a new advisory cycle lane as agreed by the council’s transport committee in June.

The purpose of the trial and its test results has been to find out what would "help the street reach its potential".

Initial designs for the George Street aimed to reduce traffic-dominated blocks, improving the quality of the pedestrian experience and encouraging a café culture. They were drawn up following consultation with shops and other businesses and the public.

Over the period of the trial, regular on-street interviews with passers-by and engagement with firms allowed project leaders to gauge support for changes, which also included outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants and the introduction of the city’s first "parklets".

The design team is using the information gathered to create design principles for the future of the street, with a report expected by the end of the year.

The council said it would not make any permanent and costly changes are made without first consulting and involving the public.

Amongst the findings were the importance of cycling facilities to the future of the street to respondents, the need for George Street to be accessible to all and the preference for symmetry in any long-term designs.

Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh transport convener, said: “The George Street trial really allowed us to listen to the public and respond to their needs - it was a true experiment.

"The whole point of the project was to enhance the environment for pedestrians, cyclists and shoppers, and its success was demonstrated by increased footfall and frequent use of the cycle route.

“We have continued to work with the public and stakeholders, along with appointed designers, to build a vision for the street’s future, so I look forward to seeing the outcome.”

One source said cafe culture would be likely to continue.

He said: "There will probably be wider pavements and cafes spilling out. And more focus on the West side to redress the balance, at least during festival time."