Princes Street is getting the attention it needs - Kevin Buckle
The column was posted on twitter by Councillor Arthur who thankfully saw it as a positive piece.
My final comment was “It really is time Edinburgh Council took a short timeout from thinking about improving active travel and gave a little more thought instead to improving the image of the city centre.”
Some of the active travel folk said I was blaming them for the state of Princes Street which Councillor Arthur pointed out was not the case and I was simply asking for more attention to be paid to retail.
People were surprised to hear the councillor say “Princess St is in transition, with much of the empty properties now taken. As well as shops, we'll see more leisure activity.”
This is very true but I think there will still be a problem as often the plans for an empty building still involves a retail unit on the ground floor and in the current retail climate that will just sit empty.
I think most people would agree that Princes Street still needs to be seen as a shopping street and this will only happen if the owners of the shops are prepared to take a substantial drop in the expected rent and if business rates are reduced also.
The council do intend to publish an improvement plan soon and it has to be hoped it is actioned far better than the Royal Mile Action Plan (2013-2018) where the council could have influenced things even more as they own many of the properties but did next to nothing.
The completed refurbishment of the Jenners building was several years away even before the fire and that will certainly make a big difference but as the Johnnie Walker Centre has shown even a major development like that is not enough to improve the overall look of the West End.
It’s the school holidays this week and every day so far has been like a busy Saturday with many families in the shop.
While the young couples that we see are clearly big fans of Pull & Bear in the St James Centre it has become
obvious that most families see little for them there and are far more likely to go a few shops along to Damaged Society.
Black Sheep Coffee has been threatening to open now in the old Vodafone shop opposite Waverley Market for almost a year and while it is already a crowded market it will be one more building brought back to life if it ever happens.
Finally I would like to say a big thank you to those people who come in the shop to say how much they enjoy the column. It is just once or twice a month but people are so kind with their comments that I just wanted to acknowledge them.