Edinburgh needs better plan for city centre than just banning cars – John McLellan

The new St James Centre is taking shape at the top of Leith Walk. Picture: Andew O'Brien
The new St James Centre is taking shape at the top of Leith Walk. Picture: Andew O'Brien
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As the new St James Centre rises at the top of Leith Walk, the years of planning have come not a moment too soon, judging by a report in the trade publication Estates Gazette this week which claims investment in shopping centres in the first quarter of the year have collapsed by 90 per cent compared to last year, the worst on record.

EG reports funds and landlords are under pressure to sell because the number of retail failures is draining confidence and while St James might be ok, what about the rest of the city centre, particularly Princes Street? It’s obviously not a mall, but is subject to the same forces when units need investment.

READ MORE: Vision for Edinburgh’s £1 billion St James development to hold festival events

With Frasers already gone and the future of Debenhams and Jenners by no means certain, the city centre needs more of a plan than just banning cars.

A cycle of aggression

I can’t comment on the live case of the cyclists pushed into the canal at Murrayburn, but the reaction to the initial story was instructive, with unrelated stories of both aggressive behaviour towards cyclists and aggressive cycling.

Maybe it’s because I’m a cyclist and live next to the canal that I know militant cycling on the tow-path is not exaggerated, but neither is randomly aggressive behaviour towards bikers on the road. There seems to be no end to the sense of angry entitlement amongst road users. As for Deliveroo and other delivery riders, lights, one-way streets and pavements might as well not exist.

Unfunny sleeper

Comedian Susan Calman is voicing announcements on the new Caledonian Sleeper train service, but what matters is getting a decent kip. I used it last week – still the old coaches which have a certain nostalgic BR charm about them – but the jolts and clanks every five minutes and the stench from the toilet next to my cabin on one side and an Eastern European woman speaking at high volume on her mobile phone on the other really was no joke.