THE boss of one of Edinburgh’s most exclusive stores has revealed he wants to see the tram line extended down Leith Walk.
Gordon Drummond, director of Harvey Nichols in the Capital, said he hoped the controversial tram scheme would ultimately be extended out into other areas of the city, and that it would eventually run down to Leith.
The original plans for the city tram would have seen it travel from Edinburgh Airport down to Ocean Terminal, but those plans were shelved as the cost of the project spiralled while work was repeatedly delayed.
And while Mr Drummond admitted that the current economic climate made it impossible to extend the tram line in the near future, he hoped that once the line was up and running it would be recognised as a huge benefit to the Capital – and that extensions would get the support of local residents.
“In the current climate, extending the tram down to Leith is just completely impossible, but once they are up and running I think we will see a lot of enthusiasm for extending it,” he said.
“Personally, I would like to see it going out to the Bio Quarter and down Leith Walk, as that would make it a much more attractive system.”
He also said he felt the problems with the development of the tram – which has seen its start date pushed back from 2011 to 2014 – had been partly caused by the global financial crisis.
“It has been the worst possible time for this project, and that has really hit the development and pushed it back,” he said. “Things are slowly starting to pick up, though, and as that continues it would be good to get the trams built to the plan.”
He also believes that the people of Edinburgh will eventually come around to the idea of having a tram system, and cited other cities where similar projects had been a huge success.
“I’m not sure people here will ever love the trams, but I think they will eventually see them as a benefit,” he said. “Dublin is a very good example as the tram line there has helped to boost businesses right along the route and is now very much part of the fabric of the city, and I’m sure Edinburgh’s trams will be similar.”
Mr Drummond was also keen to see areas of the city centre pedestrianised in a bid to bolster the success of the Capital’s main shopping district, and pointed to George Street, which was recently partly pedestrianised for the Fringe festival, as the best place to start.
“There’s no question it can help and I think George Street would be perfect, as it has some of the most interesting stores in the city,” he said.
“Closing off the road would allow for cafes and bars to spread out and it would create a very continental culture which would be a great addition to the city and would attract more people to the centre.”
His views were backed by Andy Neal, head of Essential Edinburgh, who said it was an compelling idea.
“It’s interesting because you can clearly see the benefits from an environment point of view,” he said.
“In many situations in other cities, it has led to great benefits.