Page last updated at 11:04 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 12:04 UK

Buses to return to Princes Street

Princes Street
The street has been closed to all traffic since February

Buses are to return to Princes Street by the end of November, Edinburgh City Council has said.

The street has been closed to all traffic since February for work on Edinburgh's new tram system.

A report prepared for the council's policy and strategy committee has recommended that buses be allowed to return to the street from 28 November.

It said the move would be welcomed by traders and shoppers in the run up to Christmas.

The report said allowing Princes Street to become a temporary pedestrian space during the Winter Festivals had been considered.

But on balance, it was felt allowing buses to return when tram infrastructure work is completed at the end of November would be more beneficial.

Following months of disruption, traders are desperate for a fair run at the Christmas market
Graham Birse
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce

The lead-up to the Christmas period is critical to the trading performance of retailers, with about 30% of annual turnover typically being achieved during the Christmas and New Year season, the report added.

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "We recognise that the Christmas and New Year period is a critical time of year for traders and have acknowledged, and acted upon, their strong desire for bus traffic to be re-instated to Princes Street at the end of November.

"It will also make it much easier for residents and visitors to access the excellent shops and events in the heart of the city.

"Of course, our Winter Festivals remain an integral part of the city's calendar and work is already under way to ensure that we can accommodate the range of associated, and extremely popular, visitor attractions, such as the ice rink, big wheel, continental market and fairground."

'Open for business'

Graham Birse, deputy chief executive at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the move.

"Following months of disruption, traders are desperate for a fair run at the Christmas market and this is definitely not the time to experiment with a 'pedestrian only' Princes Street," he said.

"With its wide pavements and fantastic views, Princes Street will rapidly regain its popularity once restored to an open and accessible thoroughfare."

Gordon Drummond, general manager of the Harvey Nichols department store, added: "I am very pleased that the city centre will return to normal for Christmas and that we will be able to market Edinburgh as being open for business.

"It is important that people can take buses and taxis along Princes Street and all shops will be back to normal for Christmas shopping."

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