Flats plan for Princes Street

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DISUSED floors above Princes Street retailers would be transformed into flats as part of plans to attract more residents to the city centre.

Proposals by city councillors would see upper storeys above shops become residential properties. Restaurants and cafes would also be allowed to move into ground-floor premises in order to attract more shoppers.

City planners and the business group Essential Edinburgh believe the move would lead to a more vibrant city centre in the evening.

Currently, planners resist attempts to allow prime retail premises to be turned into non-retail – such as takeaways or solicitors’ offices – to ensure shopping remains attractive.

Planning committee convenor Jim Lowrie said: “The first two floors are usually very viable, but the top four or five nobody wants.”

The move was unveiled as the new Edinburgh Local Development Plan was launched, which will map out the future of the Capital. It followed a major study into how best to improve the city centre by Gehl Architects.