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Princes Street blueprint will see a shift from shopping

Prince St retail shopping

Edinburgh’s retail focus is expected to shift from Princes St to St James (pic: Terry Murden)

Princes Street café culture has moved a step closer following new planning guidance allowing more ‘non-retail’ venues in Edinburgh’s city centre.

Councillors will vote on Wednesday (29th) on a new blueprint for the core shopping area which will be submitted to Holyrood ministers.

The changes aim to ensure Princes Street and adjoining roads do not decline when the £1 billion St James Centre opens at the east end in October.

A number of retailers, including Next, will relocate to the new centre and others are expected to follow amid speculation that they will be lured by attractive rents.

Planning Convener, Neil Gardiner, said: “Edinburgh’s city centre is unique in its combination of beautiful built heritage, world-famous attractions and retail, and we want to make sure that we maintain this diversity and vibrancy as the Capital develops.”

There is currently a mix of uses for units in the central area, though shops with direct access to the street comprise the largest proportion – 57%.

Cafes and restaurants make up 18% while 7% of units are occupied by professional or financial services and 9% by businesses which do not fit a specific class, such as betting shops, pubs or takeaways.

The council says that “in light of changing habits and priorities, it is considered beneficial to allow shops to change to other uses to achieve a diverse, thriving and welcoming city, allowing complementary uses that support the main shopping function and encourage use into the evening.”

If agreed by Planning Committee, the Supplementary Guidance, which forms part of the Statutory Development Plan, will be submitted to Scottish Ministers for approval, following which it will be formally adopted.

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