I was pleased with the coverage today of our, (Edinburgh Labours), plan for a Princes Street Trust to buy up or purchase the leases of the buildings from the Mound down to the West end. With the advent of the St James developments and the arrival of the trams, the one piece of the jigsaw not yet in place for Princes Street is this section.
We need to change the retail dynamic of that section of Princes street and use the empty space above the shops to much better advantage. The problem at present is that Edinburgh’s iconic street no onger plays to its strengths. It has a brilliant view but you don’t need a view when you are selling trousers. This proposal would open access to the provision of housing and hotel space in that area. It would be a combination of high value and smaller less expensive properties which would offer another alternative to middle income families wanting to stay in the city. We can do this without having, as is being proposed, knock down huge swaths of the present buildings.
This will only happen with political direction and the use of the powers we have to garb hold of the agenda. At present, with over 130 owners, any change will be piecemeal and not take us in the direction we want to go or at the pace we want to see.
The task of the trust would be to combine the Councils CPO powers with the private investment to deliver with two main objectives
To change the use of properties from the Mound to the West end into housing (from first floor upwards) and associated retail use (ie bars,, restuarants, bistros, deli’s etc.)
To keep as many of the present buildings as possible using Partick Geddes idea of “surgical conservation”
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