Comment: Make most of unrivalled Princes Street

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You don’t have to think back too many years to remember George Street as the staid home of Edinburgh’s banks, with little more to raise the pulse than Grays the Ironmongers.

Today, in the eyes of many, it is the Capital’s premier street for shopping and indulgence with its designer stores, smart bars and fantastic places to eat.

In Leith, the wine bars and restaurants on The Shore and Commercial Quay tell a similar story. When it comes to a street or neighbourhood reinventing itself, the possibilities are tremendous.

We tend to think of Princes Street these days as a shopping street and nothing more – but that is a real waste.

The idea of encouraging restaurants into the West End where they will enjoy spectacular views is a very good one.

There is a feeling that the west loses out to the east at the moment, thanks to the pulling power within the triangle marked out by John Lewis, Jenners and the
Princes Mall.

That is only going to accelerate if the much-anticipated redevelopment of the St James Quarter gets the go-ahead.

It makes perfect sense to make the most of Princes Street’s un-rivalled views by encouraging people to linger there over a meal or a drink and take in one of the greatest outlooks in the world.

Delivering this wonderful vision will not be straightforward.

Renting commercial property on Princes Street is certainly very expensive – and nothing can be done at the City Chambers to change that.

However, the opening of a restaurant in the former Gap store is a sign of what is possible, with a bank being allowed in to share the site – and costs – with the new
eaterie.

The flexible approach from city planners was key to making this development happen. Continuing flexibility on their part is likely to be key to making more such transformation possible.