Blog: Billion pound boost for Edinburgh

Edinburgh St James newThe new Edinburgh St James development offers a fine example of the public and private sectors working together, says economy convener Cllr Gavin Barrie.

After 40 years of trading, the doors have now closed for the last time on the St James Centre and work has now begun on the much anticipated £1bn Edinburgh St James development.

It is important to highlight that John Lewis will continue to operate throughout the works and a new entrance has been specially created on Leith Street for customers to access the store. They will be a key tenant once the new development opens and I am looking forward to future announcements about other retailers coming on board.

Recognising the importance of the development for Edinburgh, the council and the Scottish Government have both been instrumental in helping the developer, TH Real Estate, to reach this important milestone. This project will undoubtedly transform the East End of Princes Street, creating up to 3,000 permanent jobs in the retail and service sector and is one of the largest inward investments to Scotland this year.

When finished, it will provide much needed premium retail space and leisure facilities, new homes and a world class hotel provision in the heart of the city.

As well as the five star W hotel, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy 85 new shops, 20 restaurants, three new public spaces, 150 private apartments, an ultra luxury cinema and 1,600 car parking spaces. It is also predicted that the development will help move Edinburgh further up the UK retail rankings, from 13th to 8th.

A Retail and Hospitality Academy is also being created within the development with a focus on service excellence. Council staff will be working with other partners to make this an exemplary employment hub for the retail, leisure and hospitality opportunities that will be created as part of this important development.

A crucial part of this project is ensuring the surrounding public spaces and infrastructure are enhanced and improved. In order to achieve this, the council and the Scottish Government has developed an innovative new funding model, referred to as the ‘Growth Accelerator Model’ (GAM). Through this mechanism, up to £61m of public realm work can be delivered as part of the development which will transform the area and will be funded through increased business rates and overall gains in the economy. To me, this represents an excellent example of public and private sectors working together to deliver a deliver a fantastic development opportunity.

The council will also ensure that while construction work in ongoing, the project is fully integrated with the tram extension enabling works and the Leith Programme to minimise impact on the east of the city centre.

Laing O’Rourke has been appointed as the main contractor for the project and they have been tasked with delivering the retail and leisure element of what will be a world class development by 2020. I look forward to the full project being complete by 2021.

  • This article first appeared in the Evening News on October 26

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