Debenhams hotel plans a 'real confidence boost' for post-Covid Edinburgh

The £50m plans include a rooftop bar, spa, restaurant and a brand new close linking Princes Street and Rose Street.

By Conor Matchett
Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 7:30 am
The Princes Street Debenhams is set to be redeveloped into a hotel by the building's owners.
The Princes Street Debenhams is set to be redeveloped into a hotel by the building's owners.

The announcement of a luxury hotel development in the building home to Debenhams has been described as a “real confidence boost” for post-Covid-19 Edinburgh.

Depute leader of Edinburgh City Council, Labour’s Cammy Day, said the news flies in the face of those saying the Capital will suffer from the same stalling of development as other parts of the world.

The Evening News revealed the plans from financial services firm Legal and General for 109-112 Princes Street yesterday.

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Depute leader Cammy Day said the plans were a boost to Edinburgh

The proposals, due to be submitted to Edinburgh City Council this week, include a luxury four-star hotel with a spa, a rooftop bar with 360 degree views of Edinburgh and the castle, as well as a city centre ‘hub’ with space for local businesses.

It is the latest of several high profile redevelopments of property on Princes Street following the Johnnie Walker Experience in the former Frasers’ store and the imminent redevelopment of Jenners.

Cllr Day said the planned development, worth £50m, shows Edinburgh remains an “attractive place to invest”.

He said : “Legal & General’s project promises to inject a huge amount of investment in our City and create brand new jobs at a time when we need it most.

“In many parts of the world, development is stalling as a result of the pandemic. That’s not the case in Edinburgh. It’s clear that companies remain confident in the enduring appeal of Scotland’s Capital as an attractive place to invest and this news should be viewed as a real confidence boost in our economy.

“Subject to planning, it will convert a prime site with stunning views and help to support the city’s wider recovery from Covid-19 - something all of us will benefit from.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive at Essential Edinburgh, the city centre business improvement district, said it was “disappointing” Princes Street would be losing Debenhams, but welcomed the plans for the building.

He said: “It is obviously disappointing to be losing a longstanding retailer of Debenhams’ stature from Princes Street but as we know Princes Street is changing and changing quickly.

"I have not seen the actual plans but our position is that we are really keen to see mixed-use on Princes Street and this keeps retail and it is a fantastic template to move forward with on Princes Street.

“Everyone is keen to keep some retail which this development is doing but everyone realises it can’t just be retail, it has to be mixed use.

"As a template and as a concept going forward, although it is disappointing to lose Debenhams, it is a fantastic step forward for Princes Street and we would hope that it would be replicated if more properties were to come on the market.

"The close is a fantastic thing for Rose Street to link the two streets. It suggests that they are looking for independent retailers rather than big ones if you have a close with 10 or 15 retailers.”

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