Plans to turn the New Look shop in Princes Street in Edinburgh into a restaurant and hotel extension have been approved.

The supported proposals are to extend the existing Whitbread-owned 97-room Premier Inn hotel into the adjacent New Look retail unit to create 59 new rooms, and a 387 sqm ground floor restaurant.

The building runs through from Princes Street to Rose Street South Lane and there is an open courtyard in the centre.

It is the first planning application granted for a new restaurant in Princes Street since changes to guidance which allows greater flexibility for non-retail use applications in the city centre were introduced earlier this year. 

Edinburgh City Council planners said in the site report: “In this busy, commercial city centre location where there are many existing restaurants, cafes and bars, the restaurant use will not cause any significant disruption for nearby residents.”

The report added that “development is therefore acceptable in principle”.

READ MORE: Hotel and restaurant plan for Princes Street store

It was granted on minor conditions including that before any part of the development is brought into use, six cycle parking spaces are provided.

The planning statement said the “Bar + Block” steakhouse and extension to the existing hotel would be “appropriate commercial use”, adding: “Over the last number of years there has been a gravitation of retail occupier demand within the city entre towards the east end."

The statement prepared by Montagu Evans in support of a planning application by La Salle Investment Management said: "This has accelerated over the last two years or so with the commencement of the St James Centre redevelopment, where much of the retail and leisure occupier demand is now being focused.

"There is a perceived anticipation of further contraction of occupier demand for Princes Street, which could well be further exacerbated with the opening of the completed St James Centre in 2021."

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New Look is one of those planning to move to the new St James facility.

It also said that “in summary, with the way the market is moving and the natural gravitation of occupier demand for the east end of the city centre, the west end of Princes Street will only become a vibrant and successful location if a variety of different uses are accommodated and allowed to thrive”.

“The proposals seek to change the use of and re-develop the lower ground, ground and first floors of the building to accommodate an extension to the existing hotel (Premier Inn) together with the development of a new restaurant at ground floor level,” it added.