New vision proposed for Princes Street and Waverley Valley

As developers come forward with plans for Princes Street/Waverley Valley, a proposal to prepare a new vision to conserve and manage change within Edinburgh’s historic townscape is to be considered.

Councillors on the Planning Committee will discuss a report on this next Wednesday (14 October). If the go ahead is given the vision would also inform future development and management of the area and the quality of its public realm.

The guidance would sit in the context of the future City Plan 2030 as non-statutory planning guidance and complement the delivery of the Edinburgh City Centre Transformation programme (ECCT) and World Heritage Site Management Plan.

The vision, if approved, is to be developed over the next 12 months and would cover three strands.

The first strand (The Waverley Valley Conservation and Access Plan) would address issues such as preserving Edinburgh’s iconic skyline, impacts of climate change and maximising the value of the gardens to enhance physical and mental wellbeing while ensuring the continued potential to accommodate events and activities. The second strand (Princes Street Framework: Buildings and Uses) would review the blocks on Princes Street with a view to creating opportunities for investment, growth and jobs while also enhancing the overall lived environment of Princes Street and the Waverley Valley. Finally, the third strand (Princes Street Public Realm Design Code) would seek to improve Princes Street’s public realm to create a more attractive, people friendly street environment for everyone to enjoy the unrivalled views to the Castle and Old Town, and to support retail and leisure.

Cllr Neil Gardiner Planning Convener said:

An important reason why Edinburgh is recognised across the world as an outstanding city is because of the Waverley Valley between the Old and New Towns, with gardens and superb views.

One impact of the coronavirus pandemic is that many of us are now questioning how we live, our priorities and how we’re going about our daily lives. The Waverley Valley Strategy, which is much needed regardless of the these changes is now even more important to help us shape Edinburgh’s unique city centre with its combination of beautiful built heritage, world-famous a

I would like our vision to be for a welcoming, relaxing and people-friendly environment. Through the ongoing City Centre Transformation, we’re making moves toward strengthening and enhancing these characteristics in the heart of Edinburgh. At the beginning of this year we also changed our supplementary planning guidance for retail in the city centre, recognising changing trends amongst shoppers and other people who spend time in the city centre. In connecting all of this together, we aim to put guidance in place to make sure we create a healthy balance of uses on Princes Street and in the Waverley Valley in the future.

Cllr Maureen Child Vice Planning Convener said:

The Waverley Valley plays a defining role in establishing contrast between the medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town and this forms a key part of why the area is part of a World Heritage Site. The valley is a fantastic space and plays a huge part in for the city’s wellbeing, civic and cultural life. It has gardens, many listed buildings, scheduled monuments, art collections, exhibition spaces and cultural attractions. Its transport infrastructure including Waverley Station allows people from across Edinburgh and beyond to pass through and experience the city’s strong sense of identity and this something I hope the guidance will continue to preserve in the future.

If preparation of a vision is approved next week, a further report will be brought to the Planning Committee early in 2021 ahead of a public consultation on the draft proposals, with the final strategy due by next autumn for approval.


Published: October 9th 2020