Edinburgh City Centre Retail and Footfall

This is something I will have more to say about in my Edinburgh Evening News column but it absolutely clear things can not go on as they are. If left to the market the city centre will deteriorate to nothing more than food outlets, tartan tat and beauticians / nail bars/ hairdressers. If Edinburgh Council decide that diverse and interesting retail is part of the attraction of a city and if they want to be seen to support artists selling their wares then positive intervention is the only answer. It would certainly help if those with the power to do something weren’t so sure they understand the challenges facing retail that are neither as simple or black and white as many think.

The current situation with a very strong business improvement district (BID) in Essential Edinburgh based around Princes Street, a weak West End BID and and an Old Town BID that will not get the mandate it needs to replace the smaller Grassmarket BID also has to be addressed sooner rather than later. I am now more hopeful than I have been that this will happen. BIDs clearly need to work together closely rather can compete. 

Edinburgh Council identified King’s Stables Road as a key part of the jigsaw in improving footfall around the city and yet abandoned all plans to do something about it when they sold the large site there. While there is still no final agreement on the development for the site leaving a possibility something can be salvaged I’m not optimistic the council will insist on any of the positive features for the arts and footfall that were in the original plans. 

While I intend for the ScotPop Music Exhibition Centre to be in the city centre and unlike most exhibitions cover a large part if not all of its costs it should be sheltered from the worst vagaries of retail.  Having said that we all benefit from a thriving city centre and my heart will always be with the retailers that fight the good fight on the high street every day.

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