Plans submitted to transform Edinburgh's Debenhams Princes Street store into 'hub' with rooftop bar

Historic features of the B-listed building would be preservedHistoric features of the B-listed building would be preserved
Historic features of the B-listed building would be preserved
Debenhams store in Princes Street could be transformed into a city-centre “hub” featuring a hotel, shops, restaurants and a rooftop bar open to the public.

Plans have been submitted for a £50 million development of the site, which would also include hospitality, leisure and a flexible event space.

Owners Legal & General say the proposals for 109-112 Princes Street would help realise long-held ambitions to introduce more of a “café culture” along Edinburgh’s most famous street.

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Debenhams entered administration for the second time in April this year and went into liquidation on December 1.

The views from the rooftop bar would be "some of the best in Edinburgh"The views from the rooftop bar would be "some of the best in Edinburgh"
The views from the rooftop bar would be "some of the best in Edinburgh"

The plans were lodged after a three-month consultation period, when Legal & General says it contacted thousands of members of the public and key stakeholders in the area. If the planning application is approved, it is hoped work can begin within a year.

The firm says it wants to turn the B-listed building into a vibrant destination, attracting residents and tourists to make use of the new facilities.

The hotel would be a four-star Marriott Tribute, the first of the brand in Scotland.

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And Legal & General say the rooftop bar would have some of the finest views in the country, making it a “must visit” destination in the city centre.

The historically significant parts of the building would be preserved and safeguarded for the future.

And there would be a new pedestrian link between Princes Street and Rose Street.

The development would represent the biggest investment in Princes Street since the announcement of the Johnnie Walker Whisky Visitor Centre in the former House of Fraser store at the West End.

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Nida Rehman, development manager at Legal & General, said: “As we look beyond the coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important to invest in UK cities. Our vision for Princes Street is to deliver a future proofed vibrant space that supports Edinburgh’s economic recovery and continues to promote it as an attractive place to live, work and visit.

" Our proposals will secure these important buildings as a vibrant hub in the centre of one of the world’s great cities, opening up some of the best views in Edinburgh, looking directly on to Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle. Our plans have been developed to create a space which all Edinburgh and Scottish residents can enjoy, whilst continuing to attract quality tourism to the city."

Property consultants Savills say the pandemic has exacerbated the problems facing the high street and 21.5 per cent of shops in Princes Street are now vacant, compared with 7.5 per cent three years ago.

Roddy Smith of Essential Edinburgh, the Capital’s Business Improvement District, said: “Everyone understands how tough Covid-19 restrictions have been for city-centre businesses. With the recent loss of key high street brands from Princes Street like Debenhams and Top Shop, it is clear that the only way we can avoid lengthy periods with high levels of vacant properties is to secure new investment in repurposed buildings and premises.

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“I commend Legal & General for bringing forward proposals to invest in and improve Princes Street. There will be details to finalise, but investment on this scale will be a major shot in the arm for both Princes Street and Edinburgh.”

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