Jenners restoration an example of changes needed to save Edinburgh's Princes Street - Roddy Smith

More high quality private development, such as the Jenners building plans from Anders Povlsen, is needed to inject new life into Princes Street, writes chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, RODDY SMITH.
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It is generally accepted that retail is changing all over the world; is obvious that the emerging Edinburgh St James is changing the retail landscape in our city and on Princes Street in particular; and it is obvious that that there is a desire and move towards more mixed use developments.

When all of these are combined with an opportunity to reinvigorate an iconic building it is not surprising, irrespective of our ties to the store, to hear of proposals for Jenners. This is a vital heritage building housing the best known of all our department stores.

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To lose Jenners from Princes Street would be exceptionally sad for all residents and visitors and especially their dedicated staff, but it is also a huge opportunity.

Jenners could leave its Princes Street home (Photo: TSPL)Jenners could leave its Princes Street home (Photo: TSPL)
Jenners could leave its Princes Street home (Photo: TSPL)

Reflective of other recent developments it would allow a historic building (if not to be used entirely for retail) to be given a new lease of life and safeguard its future for the next generation.

If Jenners were to move to a new purpose built modern retail space, and let’s hope that they do, what an opportunity there is to use the building for a new use whilst retaining its enduring character and much loved status.

Just like the former Fraser’s store, India buildings and former bank offices on St Andrew Square amongst others we need high quality private sector developers to inject new life in these historic buildings to protect and preserve them - all the evidence to date suggest these have been hugely successful interventions.

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The recently discussed new planning guidelines for Princes Street have been looked at for exactly this purpose - to retain retail frontage but develop upper floors for other purposes - this is the way we can continue the evolving of Princes Street to reflect our past but look to the needs of Edinburgh now and in the future.