Work gets under way on the £850 million Edinburgh St James project in earnest tomorrow – with the first road closure just three days after planning permission was granted.
In a sign of the mammoth development is gathering pace, parts of Broughton Street will be closed for two weeks to allow new power cables to be laid.
Councillors representing the area welcomed the start of work, but called on developers to engage with drivers facing traffic chaos as six years of construction gets under way.
Scottish Power Energy Networks will begin installing underground cables to provide power for the demolition of the St James Centre and the building of the new development.
Work will be carried out on Broughton Street between York Place Street and Albany Street until Saturday, July 18.
Motorists will be diverted via East London Street, Annandale Street and Leith Walk for the duration of the works.
City Centre councillor Joanna Mowat, who voted on Wednesday for the project to go ahead without delay, said: “We’ve got to try and minimise the disruption, because while I welcome the removal of the St James Centre, it is going to cause a significant amount of disruption that we will have to prepare ourselves for.
“It’s good that work is starting, but now is the time that TH Real Estate needs to step up to the mark and really engage with local people.
“That area is such a critical junction. It’s not just the city centre and Leith Walk that will be affected – it will have a knock-on effect. Getting that communication right will be very important.”
The bulk of the Edinburgh St James project was approved on Wednesday despite concerns being raised by conservationists over the type of stone to be used in the development.
Preparations for demolition have already begun with builders already stripping out abandoned government offices at New St Andrew House.
Mark Everett, head of delivery at SP Energy Networks, said: “This is an important project to ensure that the Edinburgh St James regeneration project will have the required electricity connections in place.
“We have been working with Edinburgh City Council to implement traffic management plans, and everything possible has been done to keep any disruption to a minimum.
“This project is designed to bring long-term benefits to the city, and we apologise for any inconvenience this work may cause in the short term.”
Letters have been sent to local businesses informing them of the closure, the company added.