How St James revamp will change Edinburgh

Dramatic new images have for the first time revealed how the St James development will drastically alter city centre vistas.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 13th January 2015, 5:49 pm
The main entrance to the development looking down Leith Street from Waterloo Place
The main entrance to the development looking down Leith Street from Waterloo Place

The pictures show how the east end of Princes Street will be transformed by a dramatic modern sandstone, glass and steel structure.

A design statement submitted alongside the images by Allen Murray Architects said the development will “offer something stunningly new”.

It states: “The existing quarter at Edinburgh St James contains some of the finest buildings and spaces in Edinburgh and some of the worst.

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The view up Leith Street towards the Balmoral Hotel featuring shops and apartments

“TH Henderson Real Estate’s proposed redevelopment of the St James Centre is a unique opportunity to bring about a complete urban transformation of the area – to create a new piece of city. It will build on the strengths of the quarter and yet offer something stunningly new.

“The masterplan is based on the creation of streets, squares and buildings, each with individual characters but brought together within a unified whole.”

The south-facing facade, where the main entrance of the St James Centre currently stands, depicts a widened James Craig Walk, allowing viewers to see the length of the development as far as the drum-shaped central hotel.

The existing tenement at James Craig Walk will be retained

In Elder Street, currently the unwelcoming entrance to the bus terminal, a new facade will be built.

Another image shows how the heart of Edinburgh St James will look, with a central square surrounded by cafes and restaurants and filled with outdoor dining space.

The mock-up also shows the restored 18th century tenements on James Craig Walk, which will have their original entrances restored.

Cathedral Square is also completely transformed, with the space between St Mary’s Cathedral and the current John Lewis pick-up centre given a new facade of sandstone and steel, with five levels of boutiques under a covered “galleria”.

New buildings on Elder Street.

The most dramatically altered view, however, is the western side of Leith Street, which the unloved St James Centre currently towers over. Before the demolition of St James Square in the 1960s, the street was a bustling shopping district, with a two-level promenade similar to Victoria Street in the heart of the Old Town.

The images reveal how some of that hustle and bustle will be returned, with shops and apartments on both sides.