First look: Upmarket revamp set for Waverley Mall

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It’s had more name changes than Puff Daddy. But a new vision for Waverley Mall hopes to transform the “gateway to Edinburgh” with plans for a new entrance, rooftop gardens and European piazza-style area.

Moorgarth, asset manager for the owner of the mall immediately adjacent to Waverley train station, has submitted proposals for substantial investment which they hope will revitalise the tired 1980s shopping centre.

The three-storey building will be increased by a level with space for a restaurant offering views across Princes Street gardens and the Old Town.

A walkway will also be created along the southern edge of the new level.

Developers have also included plans to double the width of the pavement to eliminate one of the city’s worst pedestrian bottlenecks.

CEO of Moorgarth, Tim Vaughan, said the plans were about maximising the potential for the site to benefit Edinburgh’s residents and visitors.

“Following our acquisition of Waverley Mall, the intention has always been to explore and fully understand the role it plays within the fabric of Edinburgh.

“This has brought about a vision that looks to return areas of the mall back to the original market concept, whilst looking to create something of real quality and vibrancy within the heart of the city.”

The curved wall leading from Princes Street down to Waverley Bridge, a spot usually home to a piper, will be re-modelled to become the new entrance to the mall.

Currently home to 35 retail units including Superdry, Warehouse, Sainsbury’s, McDonald’s, The Post Office, Starbucks and Costa space for more shops, restaurants and leisure units will be created on the new roof terrace while retaining the inside food court. READ MORE: In Pictures; Waverley Mall throughout the years

The terrace will open onto Princes Street with steps leading down to an open piazza area.

The space, which will be able to be secured at night akin to Princes Street gardens, could be used as a social area aimed at hosting events, concerts and shows.

Mr Vaughan added: “Along with the improved roof space, the new entrance and the widening of the pavement on Princes Street are all about establishing a greater sense of arrival into Edinburgh that utilises its unique and very important location.

“Retail is continuing to change and through innovative design we can create a truly destinational scheme offering facilities that Edinburgh currently doesn’t have.

“It is imperative that we enable the current offer to change and evolve to meet today’s customer demands for both residents, businesses and visitors to Edinburgh.”

The centre will hope to attract high-end shops and restaurants with an emphasis on showcasing the best of Scotland.

READ MORE: Rooftop restaurant plans unveiled for Waverley Mall

Waverley Mall began life as the Waverley Market, a Victorian structure which predated the neighbouring Balmoral Hotel and housed many independent fruit and vegetable retailers.

The market’s cast iron structure was built in the latter half of the nineteenth century and supported a roof garden above, level with Princes Street.

Despite this continued usage, by the 1970s the structure had become unfit to support the gardens above and the market had to be demolished.

Moorgarth, who bought the mall in 2017, said the designs at roof level reflect the parterre style gardens of the original Victorian Waverley Market and “will provide an attractive addition to the site”.

The new, modern Waverley Market was opened in 1984, with high street retailers taking the place of the fruit and vegetable vendors.

Since then the mall has undergone several rebrands, being known as the Waverley Shopping Centre, Princes Mall and finally Waverley Mall.

The centre is connected to Waverley train station which serves over 29 million passengers per annum.

Roddy Smith, chief executive at city-centre Business Improvement District (BID) Essential Edinburgh, said: “This is welcome news.

“Obviously this is very much an integral part of the city centre and a busy gateway, so this investment to improve the sense of arrival is terrific.

“Edinburgh is a unique and stunning city centre, much-loved and much visited by local people and by others from around the world.

“Unprecedented levels of capital investment from the private sector are going into ensuring our fantastic success as a city centre is maintained and enhanced, and this is yet another example.”

Plans address pedestrian bottleneck

Mounting the top of the steps from Waverley station towards Princes Street and you’re likely to collide with the person in front of you.

A busy thoroughfare, shoppers, workers and tourists, converge at the junction causing chaos at possibly the worst pedestrian bottleneck in the city centre.

Often weighed down by luggage, weary travellers attempt to negotiate tired commuters and laden-down shoppers waiting for buses at the stop just outside the steps leading down to Costa.

Visitors to Edinburgh, having enjoyed the hospitality of the Balmoral Hotel, battle across streams of pedestrians battling to waiting taxis.

But Moorgarth, asset manager for the owner of Waverley Mall, has included in plans for transforming the shopping centre, a solution.

They would remove the pavement “clutter” which extends out into the street and bring the edge of mall back towards the main building.

By extending the pavement width by more than half the developers hope to alleviate the congestion and create a more positive experience for pedestrians and travellers trying to access the mall and train station.

Gates that can be secured at night would become the boundary edge leading into the piazza area.