Plans to transform former Debenhams on Princes Street into £50million boutique hotel and hospitality ‘hub’ recommended for approval

The former site of Debenhams on Princes Street could undergo a £50 million regeneration to become a new boutique hotel and hospitality ‘hub’ after the planning application received an overwhelmingly positive response.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:10 pm

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Legal & General, which own the former Debenhams site at 109-112 Princes Street, welcomed support today (THU) from the director of planning in Edinburgh.

The plans would see the former department store transformed by the investment and include a restaurant and rooftop bar, a 207 room upscale Marriott Tribute boutique hotel – the first of the brand in Scotland, spa, and a new pedestrian link between Princes Street and Rose Street.

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It was announced in January that Debenhams in Edinburgh would close for good, but regeneration plans could see it turned into a hospitality hub

The proposals also include shopping, dining, hospitality, leisure, and public event space and the public rooftop bar will look directly on to Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle and will help reinforce the city centre’s reputation as a ‘must visit’ destination.

The plans have been recommended for approval at next week’s meeting on June 2 by the development management sub committee meeting of Edinburgh City Council.

The plans have been carefully designed to create an attractive destination for city residents and visitors to enjoy and will also help deliver the city’s vision of creating a ‘café culture’ on Princes Street.

The proposals ensure that historically significant parts of the buildings, which have been past homes to both the city’s Conservative and Liberal Party Clubs, are carefully preserved.

Key features being preserved in the proposals are the famous Gladstone Library which will become a fine dining and public events space, the stunning stained-glass windows within 112 Princes Street which will be relocated to receive natural light for the first time since before the Debenhams redevelopment and the highly ornate staircase in 109 Princes Street.

Legal & General carried out a major three month public consultation on the proposals which received overwhelming support and has also attracted the active support of Essential Edinburgh – the city centre Business Improvement District, and Edinburgh’s Chamber of Commerce.

As well as creating investment growth and jobs for local people, the plans fulfil new planning guidance that seeks to enhance the vibrancy of Princes Street and the Waverley Valley.

The project has ambitions to be one of the most sustainable developments in the city by targeting BREEAM Excellent and a carbon reduction Gold standard.

Commenting on the proposals, Nida Rehman, development manager for Legal & General, said: “We warmly welcome the views from the director of planning. We have worked closely with the council to ensure our proposals match its vision for the future of Princes Street as well as the needs of local people and visitors. A sensitive repurposing will provide future proofed, vibrant places while securing the heritage of these buildings These proposals will help bring people back into the centre of Edinburgh, not least to enjoy some of the best views in the city and the first class experiences the new public spaces will create.”

If planning consent is granted next week, construction work could start in 2022 with completion in 2024.

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh said: “Our city centre is reeling from the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis. We need new investment to give people new reasons to visit the city centre and to ensure that buildings do not lie empty for long. Legal & General is to be congratulated for bringing forward high quality proposals at just the right time to make a real difference to both Princes Street and Edinburgh.”

Liz McAreavey, chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce added: “Princes Street has faced unprecedented change in recent years that has been compounded by the increase in on-line retail and Covid. This new Boutique Hotel at Debenhams alongside the new Johnnie Walker Visitor Centre, the refurbished BHS building and the recently announced plans for Jenners shows just how much potential there is for Princes Street and the city centre to bounce back better and stronger. We’re delighted to support this major investment as part of a holistic approach to regenerating Princes Street and the wider Waverley Valley.”

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