Café culture coming to Princes Street as Edinburgh's most famous thoroughfare undergoes a makeover

  • @oscarquine

It is one of the few high streets in Britain bereft of cafés and bars. But now Edinburgh’s most famous thoroughfare, Princes Street, could be about to undergo a drastic makeover from shopping mecca to gourmet destination.

Edinburgh City Council planners hope a vibrant “café culture” can emerge as they prepare to amend planning guidelines, permitting 25 of the 78 units to sell food and drink for the first time.

Councillor Ian Perry, planning convener for the Council, said: “Cafés and restaurants will give people a new incentive to come into town to relax over a meal and visit the shops.”

The street was built from 1770 onwards to plans laid out by the architect James Craig. The proposals come after a University of Edinburgh professor labelled it “a dystopian wasteland”.

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said: “For city centres to survive, they need to offer a great experience, and a row of almost a mile with only shops does not deliver that.”