Comment: City will soon see economic benefits

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it is quite simply the biggest single step forward for city centre shopping since Harvey Nichols opened more than a decade ago.

Sure Primark caused a tremor of excitement when it finally opened its doors on Princes Street a couple of years ago. And there have exciting arrivals, not least the eagerly anticipated Apple store currently being fitted out opposite the Balmoral.

But none of those really had the potential to change our shopping habits in the way that the new mall opening on the south side of St Andrew Square certainly does.

The shops that will have entrances on both St Andrew Square and South St David Street will create a new link between two of the city’s most important shopping areas.

People shopping in Princes Street and the Princes Mall will be enticed up towards St Andrew Square and Multrees Walk and the St James Centre beyond. And vice versa.

The redevelopment of the former Scottish Provident offices can be seen as completing the reinvention of St Andrew Square and the immediately surrounding streets as a major shopping and leisure area.

What is currently a dead side of the square, where old offices have lain empty for years, will become one of its busiest.

It is great news that work is set to start on the £75m scheme and should be complete within two years.

Coupled with the developments at the former Cowgate fire site, Haymarket and Caltongate – plus the potential redevelopment of the St James Centre – it all adds up to one of the fastest changing city centres in Britain.

The new building on St Andrew Square may not be a thing of beauty – and is perhaps a little overpowering – but it is a huge improvement on the empty office block which currently stands there.

Edinburgh as a whole will see the economic benefits of this dynamic development scene.