Comment: Famous street has to move with the times

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Mexican street food business Taco Mazama has unveiled plans to open a branch in Princes Street, replacing Hector Russell kiltmaker at 95 Princes Street.

While this might not be great news for those looking to buy Highland dress, it certainly is 
positive for the future of our most famous shopping street.

Princes Street has long been restricted by a shops-only policy enforced by the council. But last year, in the face of changing shopping patterns, this was torn up. Yo! Sushi opened on the first floor on the corner of Hanover Street. And now we will have a ground-floor Mexican.

Princes Street faces greater competition than ever before – from George Street and the Waverley Mall, as well as out-of-town competitors such as the Fort, Straiton, Almondvale and Glasgow.

The soon-to-be-redeveloped St James Centre will provide a huge challenge when its £850 million overhaul is completed, providing new, modern floorplates for the big retailers, some of whom could relocate over time to the new mall.

So Princes Street must diversify. The thoroughfare is our most famous, and known across Europe.

The last thing we need is a growing number of empty outlets or downmarket shops which would harm its reputation.

Princes Street, in fact, is central to the vitality of the entire city centre. It acts as a magnet for many who then wander to nearby shops and attractions to spend money.

Fears persist over a growing number of fast food outlets but the council has been smart in capping the number of food premises allowed and restricting the size of outlets that can apply for a licence.

One only needs to look to George Street to see how a mix of bars, cafes and restaurants allows the street to be vibrant from early in the morning until late at night.

Indeed, many shoppers would say this is exactly what they are looking for: a mix of shopping and eating places together. It’s time for Princes Street to shine.