It wouldn’t be unfair to characterise Edinburgh’s Rose Street as one long missed opportunity. After all, it’s a largely pedestrianised boulevard right in the heart of the city which should benefit from its proximity to Princes Street and George Street.
But it’s not a street which excites many.
The street’s reputation remains as one long watering hole for rugby fans or stag parties, rather than as a destination for eating or boutique shopping. Yes, there are some excellent independent stores, but not enough.
So plans to spend £1 million from the city council and Essential Edinburgh to improve the streetscape are to be welcomed as a positive first step. The changes should give Rose Street a greater sense of identity and help to underline its colourful history.
However, it is only a step. £1 million doesn’t go far.
Rose Street should be a place where the shopping is unique, where you can find items you can’t anywhere else. Where trendy new eateries open up, where the pubs are quirky and don’t smell of the previous night. That can only happen over a longer period through the efforts of the businesses themselves who see a collective benefit in transforming the area’s future.
However, the portents are not good. The fortunes of its big brother, Princes Street, have been debated for decades and still we struggle to get that right.
The idea is simply astonishing. After a year-long legal battle over whether the council has the right to build a new high school on “common good land” in Portobello Park, it turns out the fields in question might not enjoy common good protection after all.
The council’s lawyers are furiously leafing through textbooks, studying arcane case law relating to dusty land rights and trying to figure out whether or not they have spent the last 12 months on a wild goose chase.
One of Scotland’s leading experts in the field certainly believes that they have.
If he is proved right then it will be highly embarrassing, to say the least, for the council’s lawyers.
It would mean that the desperately needed new high school could have been half-built by now on the community’s first-choice site.
For now, we must wait to discover the truth and refrain from pointing the finger of blame. There will be plenty of time for that after the new high school is built.
The most important thing is that the council continues to pursue every possible avenue to find the quickest way of building the new school that 1400 young people deserve.