PEDESTRIANISING Princes Street would revive struggling retailers and bring shoppers back to the city centre, politicians said last night.
At an election hustings hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and in association with the News, the SNP suggested removing vehicles from areas of central Edinburgh.
The Greens advocated a fully pedestrianised zone with the tram being the only vehicle in Princes Street.
The proposals were originally contained in the groundbreaking report by Gehl Architects, but whose recommendations have been largely removed from the political agenda since early last year. Among those used as a model was Copenhagen, which has the largest pedestrian network in the world.
In a wide-ranging debate, business owners themselves demanded action to relax parking restrictions to allow commercial deliveries, boost city shopping and cut red tape.
They also urged city leaders to promote the Capital to residents and not just tourists.
Green party candidate Chas Booth, who raised the issue of pedestrianisation, said the move would allow businesses to “flourish”.
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, representing the SNP, added: “There should be an area of Princes Street that is pedestrianised.
“Visitors to the city get little chance to sit and enjoy the city centre.”
Ruth McKay, chair of the Edinburgh branch of the FSB, said after the debate: “Attracting shoppers in the evenings is exactly the kind of measure retailers want to see.
“However, it’s not something they can create themselves. It’s something the city council need to market and then businesses can start to open later.”
TARTAN TAT BLAST
TARTAN tat stores threaten to take over more retail premises on the Royal Mile unless there are changes to regulations, it has been warned.
Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said he was “appalled at the quality of the Royal Mile” as a shopping experience.
He added: “This council owns a lot of the shops on the Royal Mile. We should be determining what kind of stores there are.”
He added: “The Gold Bros shops on the Royal Mile are actually quite nice, but there is a danger of them having every second shop”.