BUCKINGHAM Palace-style marquees are to be set up as part of radical plans for year-round cafe culture in George Street.
A huge hit during last year’s Festival, the deluxe structures are set to become a fixture between July and August 2015, as council chiefs bid to establish the city centre as a shopping and visitor magnet.
They want to set up al fresco eating and drinking spots along all four of George Street’s main blocks, with specially-made decking laid down to accommodate bespoke marquees capable of accommodating hundreds of diners.
And they have insisted the new features – which have been “carefully selected” and “used in Buckingham Palace and the Royal Highland Show” – will be high quality and firmly in keeping with the grandeur of the world heritage-listed avenue.
Andy Neal, of city centre business improvement group Essential Edinburgh, which is helping implement the council-led initiative, said: “I think this will just enhance what makes this street special.
“You have got a great environment which will get even better. This will give you more time to appreciate the great things about George Street.”
Leaders at the council and Essential Edinburgh said the ambitious plan had been brought in to complement an “experimental” one-way traffic system that was introduced to boost pedestrian and cycling space, and the street’s overall visitor appeal.
It is hoped the new marquees will be operating by the end of July and that they will stay open to shoppers and tourists right through to August 2015.
Project leaders stressed the structures, which are being part-funded by local businesses, would be subject to strict quality controls to protect the street from an excess of commercial signage.
And they have called on Edinburgh residents to get behind the plan and help breathe new life into the city centre.
“We like to be quite action-oriented,” said Mr Neal. “And one of the issues in Edinburgh is that lots of people talk about doing lots of things but do not necessarily take any action. I think bars and restaurants in the street will be happy about this as it gives them an opportunity to present themselves in a better way on the street.”
Business owners have welcomed the proposal.
Kate Trousdale, assistant manager at the Queen’s Arms in Frederick Street, said: “It will help attract a more diverse clientele.”