Edinburgh’s Gyle shopping centre set to transform into ‘£500 million urban quarter’

Edinburgh’s Gyle Shopping Centre looks set for a radical facelift to become a major ‘urban quarter’ thanks to an investment of £500 million.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 8:41 am

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The 1990s-built shopping mall and its surrounding car parks would be transformed over the next ten years under the plans announced today.

The shopping centre would be completely modernised – allowing existing tenants including Marks & Spencer and Next to introduce new concept stores – and around 1,000 homes would be built on the site under the new vision.

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The first visualisations of the new 'urban quarter' see The Gyle transformed into a vibrant mixed use area for residents and those travelling to the area

Central to the plans is a new high street leading from the tram stop to the existing shopping complex. So, instead of walking through a car park visitors would stroll along a new pedestrian-friendly street with shops on the ground floor and flats and offices above them.

The new residents and people visiting a much wider range of facilities on offer on the site would make the Gyle much more active right around the clock.

The idea is that it would act as a local high street for much of west Edinburgh, providing a focal point for existing residents and many of the 40,000 people who are expected to move into the area due to the large amount of housebuilding planned in the area. It would also include community facilities, such as a library, gym and GP surgery.

Development managers Bankfoot APAM have announced a consultation on the blueprint which represents a radical departure from previous plans to extend the centre.

The Gyle Shopping Centre, Edinburgh. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Marks & Spencer recently renewed its foodhall in the centre with several new features and the developers are talking to them and the other tenants about introducing cutting-edge concept stores.

That opens up the likelihood of more click and collect and showroom-style stores at The Gyle, similar to some of the new stores opening at the St James Quarter in the city centre.

The Gyle was originally opened in 1993 and was extended soon after.

The previous owners had brought forward plans for small extensions for new retail units and a cinema, but these were rejected last year by Edinburgh city council.

The Gyle shopping centre opens in October 1993. This image shows the food court packed with shoppers

The new owners aim to build on some of Scotland’s best public transport links, including Edinburgh trams, Lothian bus routes and Edinburgh Park train station on its doorstep, partly by creating better walking and cycling routes.

West Edinburgh is undergoing major expansion with up to 18,000 homes due to be built, adding up to 40,000 new residents to the area.

To serve the growing community, the concept being put forward by developers is to create a new town centre where people will live, work, shop and enjoy their leisure time in one of the most sustainable communities in Scotland.

The initial ideas reflect the fact that while The Gyle was once at the fringe of Edinburgh, it is now at the heart of one of Scotland’s fastest growing residential and commercial districts.

The proposals are intended to retain and enhance the best features of the current centre while adding new facilities and services to facilitate modern shopping methods like click and collect

In line with the city’s sustainability goals, there is also a plan to offer electric car charging points.

The developers vision includes providing new homes close to many of the city’s major employers, within easy reach of both the city centre and the countryside, with great active and public transport links; a new east/west ‘green link’ that provides better and safer walking and cycling facilities and new public green space; and improved access to the existing tram, bus and rail services that run through and around The Gyle.

Commenting on the proposals, Chris Moore, the managing director at Bankfoot APAM, said: “When the Gyle was built it was a leading modern shopping destination. However, we are now looking at a new normal that is very different for shopping and living.

"The creation of a new urban city district will help transform the visitor experience and bring many more new residents, workers and customers to the shops and facilities.

“Increasingly people will travel by public transport and the facilities need to reflect that new normal.

"We have seen the changes that the new St James development in the city centre is making to people’s shopping experience and our aim is to deliver better and higher quality shopping, rather than just increasing floorspace.

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"We have also studied the quality of the proposals for new homes and offices at the nearby Edinburgh Park.

“Edinburgh is changing, and west Edinburgh is changing faster than almost anywhere in Scotland and our plans must reflect sustainability issues and respond positively to those changes. Looking ahead we should consider how best to serve our customers and meet their growing concerns about the environment.

"A more balanced community is what is proving to work best.

“We will be consulting local residents and communities on our new vision in the near future, and we look forward to starting the regeneration and revitalisation of The Gyle in a way that makes it an even more special place for many more people.

"The Gyle can again be one of the finest shopping destinations in the country, but our ambition is to make it one of the finest places to live, work and play as well.”

The consultation will begin in the coming weeks and continue over the summer

A planning application is expected to be submitted in the autumn.

It is estimated that the full regeneration of The Gyle development will take around ten years, but will occur in phases without closing the centre.

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