The owners of Ocean Terminal are warning that if they don’t get permission to extend the Leith shopping centre there could be “very negative consequences for its viability.” This is because another key tenant, clothing retailer H&M, could leave.
In a planning application that proposes a radical alteration to the frontage of the building, shown above, the Ocean Terminal owners admit that footfall and turnover at the centre is in decline. A number of operators have recently closed including Wallis, Top Shop, Top Man, Burtons and Dorothy Perkins and reopened at Fort Kinnaird.
Meanwhile other operators within the centre have also gone into administration in a recession that has not been kind to chain stores. Other shops that have closed include; HMV, La Senza, Moda Pelle, Ortak and Jane Norman. The vacancy rate has increased by a third from March 2012 to August 2013.
Despite this the centre reportedly still employs 981 people year round.
The new extension to the shop would see a huge new high-profile unit created near the entrance for H&M, knocking together a series of smaller units currently given over to temporary community uses such as the ‘Ocean Social’ and the Living Memory Association. It would add a new entrance to the street, and a further 865.04 sqm of new retail space to the mall, or an extra 2.2% to the total.
Architects Keppie, say that the new extension, “develops a more affirmative relationship with the street, coming out from the shadows of the overhang, providing a new entrance and visual connectivity with the interior.”
Even though the extension would extend into an area of “limits of deviation’ (LOD) protected for use by a potential tram route, Ocean Terminal owners insist that they support the extension of the tram.
In their application they say: “It is our understanding that the LOD is wider in this location than other safeguarded areas, and the proposed development will not prejudice the delivery of the tram route. The applicant would be willing to accept a condition on any planning permission or enter into a legal agreement to ensure that the delivery if the Tram is not prejudiced in any way. Indeed, Ocean Terminal fully supports the extension of the Tram to the centre, and will do what it can to assist delivery.”
To emphasise this commitment, the images in the planning documents hint at trams rushing past the centre. Indeed, should this application get the go-ahead, it would be appear that this branch of H&M could one day end-up with a better connection to the tram than Edinburgh Airport.
Do you think the proposed extension will be enough to safeguard the future of Ocean Terminal? Do you like the idea? Or do you think the operators might be crying wolf?
You can find full details of the planning application, and submit your comments, on the council planning portal.