Waverley Mall plans are on the right lines – Kevin Buckle

An artist's impression of the new Waverley Mall roof, which got the green light this week
An artist's impression of the new Waverley Mall roof, which got the green light this week
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Good news this week that planning to develop the roof of Waverley Mall had been approved. There had been the usual talk of views being spoilt but thankfully common sense ruled the day.

Edinburgh does have fantastic views and they should certainly be protected but sometimes things are taken too far. Anything blocking a view to the castle is frowned upon, for instance, and yet normally by simply taking a couple of steps to the left or right a clear view is available.

In the case of the Waverley Mall roof not only was the immediate view of the roof itself not great but when the space was used by pop-ups it tended to look even worse. One councillor pointed out that some of the views “lost” could only be obtained by standing in front of a tram!

At this point I have to declare an interest in that my opinion on their cultural and arts offering was sought and I was so impressed with their plans I offered to spend some time in the centre with Avalanche and the exhibition of Scottish music we have worked on for some years now. There will also be space to exhibit artists’ work.

Nothing beats actually “being there” and hopefully I will get a feel for what will and won’t work. As with the partnership Avalanche had with Waterstones for Rip It Up this is a way of trying to reach new people while still catering for fans from what is a fantastically central location.

I was also impressed by Waverley Mall’s commitment to supporting new music and in particular giving lots of youngsters a chance to play so it is even better news that a bigger and better stage is planned.

Back on the roof and from what I can tell the application covered all possibilities so there was talk of an outdoor cinema and a farmers’ market among other ideas but certainly in my limited dealings so far those involved in the centre’s plans are very open to discussion and I’m sure will take on board any thoughts others may have.

With equally exciting plans for the inside of the centre this should be a great addition to what is on offer on Princes Street and with the new owners Moorgarth having previously won awards for shopping centres they own and manage elsewhere there is every reason to believe they will deliver on their promises.

As for Avalanche’s involvement we have only just confirmed we would take a space so it is all very new but the three strands will be Avalanche the shop, the exhibition and the artwork. While an exhibition shop would mainly cover Scottish artists this venture, while very much in that vein, will have other things too so expect the ever popular original Arctic Monkeys posters!

As yet this is not a permanent venture but we have committed to three months and by then the changes will have started to take place and we can see how we can maybe fit in with those plans. Certainly you can expect to see Avalanche’s influence elsewhere in the centre as we intend to work with others based in the mall as well as utilise all the space they have.

You will find us as soon as you walk in on the steps from Waverley Bridge on the left so it’s a great location. There is a store room, an office and a kitchen to the back of the shop floor so I could also live there, but unfortunately there is a specific clause that doesn’t allow that!

We hope to be up and running by Friday, February 22, when the Big Gold Dreams CD box set, which documents the vibrant independent music scene to emerge in Scotland across the late-70s and 80s, is released.

HMV saviour’s focus on vinyl is misguided

More good news this week when HMV was bought by the Canadian record shop owner Doug Putman of Sunrise Records. Definitely a better fit than Mike Ashley or the discredited Hilco/HMV management team who were also in the running, but his reliance on vinyl to turn around HMV’s fortunes is both worrying and disappointing.

Vinyl is only as good as the music it plays and supporting good music, and in particular new music, would be a far better aim than simply supporting a format. Also CDs are still almost six times more popular than vinyl so to stock more vinyl than CD would be a mistake. Of course HMV’s problem was DVDs were their biggest seller and that market is disappearing fast.

Another aim of having more in-stores and merchandise related to successful artists again has its flaws. While both ideas have merit they aren’t going to generate the much-needed sales the way they used to. Fans who turn up to see a band in-store now will most likely have bought directly and if HMV offer something extra or make purchase a condition of entry then dedicated fans are faced with the dilemma of whether they should buy an album twice, which is not a good thing.

Certainly things look a lot more promising than they did before Sunrise’s last-minute bid but I do hope that people remember it was the independent record shops that supported vinyl when HMV and FOPP had all but abandoned it and just because that nice man from Canada who loves vinyl has saved HMV and FOPP from extinction it doesn’t mean they should forget about their local independent shops when that option is available.

Get on your bikes, showroomers!

Local bike shop day has just been announced for Saturday, May 4, celebrating independent bike shops all around the UK. Unlike Record Shop Day, I doubt there will be lots of limited-edition overpriced bikes for sale but there will I’m sure be lots of exciting events planned.

It was a surprise to me to discover that showrooming with bikes, in which people will check out a bike in a shop gleaning what advice they can but then go away and buy online, is still common despite – as with most shops these days – prices on the high street being very competitive with online sellers.

No doubt there will be more news of what Edinburgh shops have planned nearer the time.