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LONDON-Edinburgh City Council is looking to revive plans for an underground shopping mall beneath the eastern end of the city’s prime Princes Street. The council’s development arm, EDI, has formed a joint venture with Dutch retail developer MAB and launched an architectural competition to come up with designs for the scheme, which could create an additional 160,000 sf of retail space.

Princes Street is a UN-designated World Heritage Site which restricts the development options, and the decision to build underground is a response to the extreme sensitivity of the site. The lack of new development in recent years is seen as one of the main reasons why Edinburgh has lost trade to nearby Glasgow.

MAB Development Director Karen Walker said: “A radical facelift for Princes Street is consistently highlighted by residents, tourists, politicians and heritage bodies as essential for the future success of Scotland’s capital city. The timing of this competition will offer a unique opportunity to explore options to regenerate Princes Street, to the benefit of the city centre as a whole.”

Princes Street already has one underground shopping centre at Princes Mall, and Railtrack Properties is investigating the possibility for a major retail and office scheme at Waverley Station, which runs parallel to Princes Street. The Princes Street Galleries will be expected to integrate with both schemes. At the same time, Walker said there will be potential for existing Princes Street retailers, many of which trade at basement level, to extend into the scheme.

The architectural competition will be administered by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. The aim is to select a masterplan architect from the 12-long shortlist of firms by December 2002. A detailed planning application will then be submitted in late 2003.

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