Edinburgh’s Princes Street set to be Poundland Champs-Élysées? – Helen Martin

Princes Street pictured from Calton Hill (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)Princes Street pictured from Calton Hill (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
Princes Street pictured from Calton Hill (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
WELL, there it was… the new plan for Princes Street, restoring it to a famous, magnetic thoroughfare offering classy restaurants and drinking establishments, high-quality independent firms, top-grade craftware, galleries, and enjoyable experiences with all offerings facing the delightful gardens and the Castle.

Fashion shops and leading chains would move north or to the new St James, and take-aways and tat would be removed putting our best-known road on a similar list as the Champs-Élysées and Fifth Avenue.

The debate over commercialisation and possible ruination of Princes Street Gardens regardless of any income, was ongoing but then came the most surprising announcement that Poundland would move in at rent of £500,000 a year.

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Poundland provides genuine bargains. It’s an asset when budgets are tight and when unemployment has risen in Scotland. We might expect a ­giant Poundland on Lothian Road, South Bridge or almost anywhere else. But Princes Street?

It’s sometimes difficult to understand how the council’s policies are interpreted and ­carried out, and who ultimately has control over such plans.

It’s also interesting with the importance of environmental issues, that unlike Dundee, Edinburgh has done nothing to build up electric charge points for vehicles, preferring to ban all cars and buses from the city centre while encouraging them to birl round further out.

And what about the endless approval of vast student accommodation projects when what our city with its high property values really needs is affordable housing for citizens on lower budgets?

Councils can’t control everything, often depending on what investments people want to make. But declared policies should be achievable.

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