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Retail therapy to transform Princes Street into a hospitality hub

June 4 2021

Retail therapy to transform Princes Street into a hospitality hub

Legal & General has won unanimous consent from Edinburgh planners to press ahead with the £50m transformation of an obsolete department store on Princes Street into a hotel and hospitality hub.

Led by ICA Architects with project manager Gardiner & Theobald and heritage adviser Turley the work will repurpose 108,000sq/ft of vacant retail space across three listed properties at 109 to 112 Princes Street.

In its place a 207 room hotel will be inserted, supported by a restaurant, lounge, spa and rooftop bar. A pedestrian link to Rose Street will also be established, connecting to a new public event space and lined by commercial units behind a 'delicate curtain' of glass-fibre reinforced concrete.

Bill Hughes, head of real assets for Legal & General Investment Management, said: “We continue to work hard investing in centres and creatively repurposing real estate to ensure the vitality of urban areas that need to evolve. Our long-term view and operational strategy mean we can adapt and innovate the Princes Street site to harness the full potential of these historic buildings, ensure they support economic growth and bring the widest possible benefit to the city.”

Construction work could begin in 2022 with the hotel opening in 2024, with the project team aiming for a BREEAM Excellent rating and a carbon reduction gold standard. 

Picture postcard views will draw rooftop drinkers and diners
Picture postcard views will draw rooftop drinkers and diners


#1 Posted by Allan on 5 Jun 2021 at 09:04 AM
Just what Edinburgh needs!! Another trendy, overpriced hotel with trendy overpriced bars!
Princes St is a shabby, tacky shadow of its former self and, I do not see that this is going to add anything of value.
Oh, I'm sure tourists will love it but, there is more to Edinburgh than just tourists. Not impressed.
#2 Posted by Neil on 5 Jun 2021 at 10:47 AM
Totally agree with the previous comments. Princes Street used to be for the people of Edinburgh to shop now all that will be is hotels (Jenners will be next).
Shopping Charlie
#3 Posted by Shopping Charlie on 5 Jun 2021 at 13:27 PM
#1&#2, Guys where you been with the advent of online shopping? Come to think of it where have all the shoppers gone? A car free Princes Street with outside tables and the great views would be bringing the city on par with any European city (ok we might need the odd table canopy) but the dinosaur shopping high streets are gradually evolving to a better place.
Hamish Ashcroft
#4 Posted by Hamish Ashcroft on 5 Jun 2021 at 18:23 PM
The opening of the new St James’ centre will rapidly accelerate the decline of Princes street I think. It’s opening in a matter of weeks. Obviously a very forward thinking development with its massive rotary junction and several thousand parking spaces :(((
#5 Posted by CJH on 5 Jun 2021 at 22:48 PM
We live in a unique and ridiculous situation where our capital city's most famous street has been wholly focused on retail for the last half century. The world has changed. It changed long before this project emerged.

Hotels, bars and restaurants are not unnatural in streets like this, we've just been slow to adopt.

This looks a decent, respectable prospect. I look forward to an overpriced lager on the roof . . . better than it being another vacant unit in spectacular settings.
#6 Posted by Daniel on 7 Jun 2021 at 09:30 AM
#2 - the people of Edinburgh have been voting with their wallets for quite some time now, and going to retail parks or buying online. What do you expect property owners on Princes Street to do?
Randall Sloan
#7 Posted by Randall Sloan on 7 Jun 2021 at 15:30 PM
I think regardless of the design quality of this proposal, I think people need to wake up a little to what is going on in retail: both in general and specifically Princes St. Princes Street is not a nice street to shop on, there is no engagement from ANY of the business' on the street (playing bag pipes over speakers does not count as meaningful engagement, not to my bleeding ears anyway) nor does retail lend itself very well to creating meaningful uses above the ground floor (ok some of these shops have more than one floor). With the opening of the St James, I think there is a really exciting opportunity to revisit what Princes St should and could be. Now obviously the entire street cannot become hotels and tourist attractions but what is in my opinion, a most appealing proposition would be to rid the street of buses and taxis - just have trams, cyclists and pedestrians allowing the street to merge into the gardens. Cafes and restaurants can spill out onto the significant pavement and it will become one of the most desirable streets in the country - name another with such an amazing view. Not only that, but so many of these buildings could be re-purposed to be yes, hotels, offices, cafes and restaurants but I think more importantly than that - housing. What an amazing place that would be to live. Retail as we know it in its physical form is dying, and "experience" centers like the St James are probably the best chance of keeping people shopping in physical form. Getting all these generic nationwide chain shops off Princes St is one of the best things that could happen to it!!
Damp Proof Membrane
#8 Posted by Damp Proof Membrane on 9 Jun 2021 at 09:19 AM
Whilst not agreeing with #7's very last sentence entirely, I think this comment is one of the best comments I've read on UR in about 8 years ;-p Why I supported the trams was precisely for this reason, to integrate the streetspace/scape with Princes Street Gardens. People and trams can share space. People and buses/taxis, not so much (i.e. not). Where the buses and taxis go...well, that's not easy though is it. The Lothian city/country bus service is excellent, but there's too many routes needing access to the New Town, and this won't change. Thinking big, many of the bus routes could/should be superseded by an underground system but that's a whole other thing.
#9 Posted by Robert on 10 Jun 2021 at 15:01 PM
The evolution of the city centre from residents to tourists has been quite dramatic over the last 10 years, with reducing numbers of non-hospitality jobs impacting the numbers of locals who need to travel into the city centre. I suspect that this horse has now bolted, leaving tourists as the primary users of the city centre’s facilities. This development is just one of many resulting from this change and is certainly better than an empty shop. There are plenty of good pubs and restaurants in the suburbs to cater for the rest of us so I, for one, don’t really miss the city centre.

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