Paul Hilton: Redevelopment showcases city’s best

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As we wave goodbye to the Commonwealth Games which dipped their toes here in Edinburgh (literally), we say hello to the Fringe and the Edinburgh Festival which bring with them a vast array of entertainers and visitors flocking into town.

Second only to the Royal Mile at the festival, the hub for all this activity starts and ends in George Street. Already a go-to cosmopolitan focus for fashion conscious shoppers, this central location embraces café culture and impromptu side-shows throughout August as part of the eclectic festival atmosphere.

George Street started its life as the New Town’s most upmarket residential street. However, over the years this has changed to become a thriving destination for banking to Boots, from fine dining to religious enlightenment and from new homes to nightclubs, it has a bit of everything for everyone.

The ESPC showroom has also played its part by collaborating with Edinburgh World Heritage to boost the profile of Edinburgh’s historic homes, and added to the sense of community by inviting charities, including the British Heart Foundation, to capitalise on its footfall and central location to attract support.

Part of the ongoing success is down to the facilities on George Street. The balance between corporate, retail and hospitality is perfect. Following a successful trial last year, Edinburgh council’s decision to maximise the experience and enjoyment around the festival by pedestrianising part of the street is to be welcomed. The long-term benefits will be enjoyed by pedestrians, cyclists and traders long after the festival goers have left.

Peppered with green spaces in the squares at each end, walking from east to west, you get a tantalising glimpse of the new town in all its glory, with the Firth of Forth in the background to the north. Glance southwards and Edinburgh Castle sits proudly on the hill, bedecked ready for the visitors who enjoy the spectacular military tattoo. Or just take stock of the magnificent architecture, the historic figures immortalised as statues telling the story of the street through the ages and the men who influenced its growth.

Whether you are looking for a great meal, a fantastic new home to buy, or cashing in traveller’s cheques to buy the latest Jimmy Choos, there’s no other street that offers the diversity quite like George Street.

• Paul Hilton is acting chief executive of ESPC