Giant Primark to win back £4 million of lost spending

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The massive new Primark store proposed for the Gyle Shopping Centre will win back £4.4 million a year of spending that goes outside of Edinburgh, according to planning chiefs.

The budget clothing store will be created by building an extension to the west Edinburgh centre that will create 300 jobs.

Ewart Properties, the company that owns the Gyle centre, has argued that the store will allow the Capital to win back retail spending that is lost to rivals such as Livingston and Dunfermline.

Their view has been backed by city planning officials, who have recommended that the proposals be approved by councillors.

They also argue that the development will have a “minimal” impact on the city centre, where a giant new Primark is due to open on December 10.

A report by John Bury, the council’s head of planning, said: “The additional floorspace has a minimal impact on the vitality and viability of the city centre or other town centres.

“It would also allow the centre to claw back £4.4m of leakage to other centres outwith Edinburgh.”

The new Primark store will feature 5575 square metres of new retail space, predominantly in the new extension.

Henderson Global Investors, the owners of the St James Centre, objected to the plans on the basis that the new store could have a negative impact on the city centre.

Planning officials have estimated that the new store will take 0.15 per cent of trade away from Edinburgh’s city centre. But Mr Bury said: “Although the available evidence indicates that trade diversion will not be significant, the proposal is coming forward at a time when the city centre is looking increasingly vulnerable. It has under-performed when compared against other regional centres and faces challenges which can in the main be attributed to the difficult economic climate.”

An objection was also lodged from Fife Council, which argued that the proposal would divert trade away from Dunfermline.

A spokesman for the Gyle Shopping Centre said: “While we welcome the director’s report, it does demonstrate that the real issue here is about keeping spending and jobs in Edinburgh.

“With 300 jobs being created at Primark at the Gyle in addition to jobs being created in the city centre, this will help strengthen the retail offer of Edinburgh as a shopping destination.”

Officials have recommended that planning consent is granted and have recommended that the developer is asked to pay £415,000 towards the tram project.

Councillors will be asked to make a final decision on the proposals at a meeting on Wednesday.

mblackley@edinburghnews.com