Reset, Refresh, Return, Revitalise

Is this the sign of the beginning of the revival of Princes Street?

Murray Stewart blue L website

The Jenners building is clearly an iconic and integral part of Edinburgh’s most famous street.

Whilst it is sad to the see such a landmark depart from the retail landscape the development proposals hopefully mark the start of an exciting, and positive, period in Princes Street’s evolution.

For years now, we have seen the gentle decline of high streets across the UK. This has been driven in part due to increased overheads being faced by retailers in terms of wages and business rates. However, there has also been a fundamental and structural shift by consumers to online retail channels which are seen by consumers as a cheaper and more convenient way to buy goods.

Thankfully, the redevelopment plans for the Jenners building are not borne of the demise of another retail stalwart – and House of Fraser continues to trade under the ownership of Sports Direct – but by significant inward investment into Edinburgh by the building’s Danish owners.

That should be viewed as a demonstration of confidence in our city and presents an opportunity to revitalise  Princes Street.

Retail in Edinburgh has gradually been transitioning to the east end, with the opening of Multrees Walk in 2007 and the subsequent regeneration of St Andrew’s Square. This will continues with the Edinburgh St James development. With this we may see a reinvention of Princes Street as the city’s social/leisure hub. As with the plans for Jenners, more hotels, restaurants and bars may crop up, utilising the street’s fantastic views of the castle and adopting a more continental café culture.

One other bonus is that they will also possibly breathe new life into the upper storeys along Princes Street which are relatively untouched.

The new direction for the Jenners is symptomatic of wider change, not only in Edinburgh but across the rest of the UK also, towards a high street more focused around leisure, food and drink.

We also should recognise that the development strengthens Edinburgh’s position as a modern, aspirational international city willing to change, while also ensuring that its key landmarks endure. The building forms an archetypal image of Edinburgh, and with this restoration we shall see this A-listed building return to its former prime – which is good news for Princes Street and Edinburgh as a whole.

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The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.

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