The City of Edinburgh Council planning committee has given approval to a £50 million scheme to transform the city’s former Debenhams store into an “upscale boutique hotel” and hospitality hub.

The development comprises three listed buildings on Princes Street, with plans to create a 207-room hotel featuring a restaurant, lounge, spa and rooftop bar overlooking Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle.

The proposals will also add a new pedestrian link between Princes Street and Rose Street, as well as new shopping, dining, hospitality, leisure and public event space.

The buildings date back to 1869 and have previously housed the city’s Conservative and Liberal Party Clubs, before Debenhams opened in 1978.

Construction is expected to start in 2022, with the hotel scheduled to open in 2024.

Commenting on the news Bill Hughes, head of real assets for Legal and General Investment Management, said:

“The UK needs urban centres that are fit for purpose and support growth. We continue to work hard investing in centres and creatively repurposing real estate to ensure the vitality of urban areas that need to evolve.

“Our long- term view and operational strategy mean we can adapt and innovate the Princes Street site to harness the full potential of these historic buildings, ensure they support economic growth and bring the widest possible benefit to the city.”

With UK High Streets struggling against a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing online shopping, a number of former department stores are set to be repurposed. Last month we reported that a former House of Fraser store in Exeter is set to become a Hotel Indigo property.

IHG to open Hotel Indigo in Exeter