Speaking after five years as the local authority's design adviser, Farrell criticised the "pervading inertia" of efforts to regenerate Princes Street, where he believes work is desperately needed to bring the upper floors back into use.
He claimed to have battled throughout his appointment for there to be more than one tram stop on Princes Street and is frustrated by the lack of progress on a new cultural quarter linking the Usher Hall and Festival Square.
"I do not feel that my five years have been in vain, but the city has failed to rise to most standards over the past ten years of urban renaissance," he contended. "Other cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester all make Edinburgh look as though it is behind the starting line."
He acknowledged that politicians from the different parties have shown a good understanding of the challenges involved and have been very supportive. "But they have to realise that they control the bureaucracy which runs the city for them," he said. "They need to become more assertive and demanding of their senior officers or things simply will not change."
The waterfront has the potential to be the city's next new town but a rethink is needed, Farrell asserted. "What has been created so far is less than second-rate and developers have been allowed to carve up the area according to market demand," he declared.