STARBUCKS is set to open its first branch on Leith Walk, according to new documents lodged with the council.
The American chain’s trademark branding is clearly shown on designs submitted as part of “proposed alterations” to a shop front on Shrub Place.
Shrub Place was an opportunity for the council to do something really, really interesting, but that’s just been totally wasted, unfortunately.Keith Hales
But yesterday the company failed to respond to the News’ request for confirmation of the move.
The new Starbucks will be the first to open on the main stretch of Leith Walk – with another store already in place on Leith Street around half a mile up the road.
It comes as part of Shrub Place’s ongoing regeneration following the demolition of Shrubhill House – the city’s former social work headquarters – in 2014.
And while the coffee giant has yet to submit a formal planning application, its apparent decision to set up home in the area has already caused controversy.
Keith Hales, of the Leith Business Association, said the move was part of the ongoing erosion of Leith’s identity, as independent shops are replaced by chains and corporate outlets.
He said: “I think Leith Walk has certainly lost its identity. It’s becoming almost like any other street now, but I suppose [the Starbucks] is better than what was there before.
“I remember when I started my business 30 years ago, people used to come to Leith and walk up and down and do their daily shopping. But they just don’t do that any more.
“This is going to be something you can get anywhere else. It’s not something that’s going to bring people to the area. No one is going to come to Leith because these places are here.
“It would be nice to get some independent retailers. The problem with Leith is there are too many stores that are the same. It’s just not Leith. I think the high streets we have are all deteriorating.”
He added: “Shrub Place was an opportunity for the council to do something really, really interesting, but that’s just been totally wasted, unfortunately.”
But John Hein, chair of Leith Central community council, said he would reserve judgement until he saw the plans.
He said: “We are losing that diversity of shops, but there are not many places that have managed to keep it. I like decent coffee, so I wouldn’t use it anyway.”
The new Starbucks will take over an empty unit between Sainsbury’s and Ziggurat Student Living, which houses hundreds of students in the rooms above the vacant shop.