Edinburgh Shopping - St James Centre Redevelopment

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On Wednesday the 25th February 2009 the City of Edinburgh Council, Scotland, UK, granted an approval for an outline planning application to transform a 13-acre site in the historic centre of Edinburgh into a vibrant new city neighbourhood, with a sweeping continental-style retail 'galleria' at its heart.

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Today's decision has sent out an important message to the world that Edinburgh is a great place to invest, do business and shop

Edinburgh's St James Centre is to become a 'World Class' shopping destination. One of the UK's most ambitious city centre development projects has been given the go-ahead by planners, paving the way for Edinburgh to restore its reputation as a world-class shopping destination.

The new development will replace the existing 1970s St James Shopping Centre and adjacent New St Andrew's House, which will now be demolished. In its place will be a new St James Quarter, bringing together international class retailers with the world's top hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities - as well as up to 250 new homes.

The St James' planning application is the result of nearly three years of research, consultation and design led by the centre's owners Henderson Global Investors (HGI), bringing together two long-established architects, Building Design Partnership and Alan Murray Architects.

Myles White, Fund Manager of HGI's UK Shopping Centre Fund said: "This has been an exceptional planning approval for an exceptional development.

"The sheer scale and scope of our proposals demonstrate our long-term commitment to providing a world-class retail-led mixed use quarter in Edinburgh - and one which will make a positive difference to a city of global stature."

The importance of the planning application to the long-term future of the city has not been underestimated by the City of Edinburgh Council. Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Dawe, commented: "Today's decision has sent out an important message to the world that Edinburgh is a great place to invest, do business and shop". (Use for quote)

The New St James Quarter will effectively double the amount of retail space currently provided at the existing shopping centre to more than one million sq ft (93,000 sq m), accommodating up to 90 stores - compared to around 60 at present. It is forecast the new development will create up to 4,000 jobs and provide an estimated tourism spend of around £20 million annually.

The development will seamlessly link with the rest of the city through a network of walkways, public squares and green spaces, following a design blueprint inspired by the original cityscape and layout of Edinburgh's New Town.

Its centrepiece will be the crescent-shaped multi-level galleria. Roofed in glass and naturally ventilated, the galleria will act as a lightly covered street, sweeping from Multrees Walk to the shopping centre's current Princes Street entrance. As well as the galleria, other development proposals include:

  •     The demolition of the existing St James Centre (excluding John Lewis), New St Andrews House and multi-storey car park.
  •     Distinctive new buildings to be home to cafes and restaurants at lower levels, spilling out onto public spaces such as a new contemporary public square at St James Square.
  •     Up to 250 new homes on the upper levels, looking out onto a stunning roof garden.
  •     A new luxury hotel of up to 150-beds housed within a central feature building and an apart-hotel.
  •     Boosting Edinburgh business with up to 15,000 square metres of new modern office space.
  •     Up to 1,800 underground car park spaces.
  •     Strategic connections to key transport hubs including Edinburgh's trams and buses.

Henderson hopes to submit reserved matters applications for approval of the detailed design of the outline planning application. Work could start on the new St James Quarter as soon as 2011 with completion anticipated in 2014.

Andrew Murphy, managing director of John Lewis Edinburgh, the anchor store of the existing shopping centre, said: "The St James Quarter proposal will improve the fortunes of retail in Edinburgh by offering shoppers a quality experience with an outstanding mix of tenants to match. It will also ensure Edinburgh provides one of the best concentrations of quality retail in the UK."

For more information on Edinburgh commercial property and city developments see the Edinburgh - Inspiring Capital website.

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