Edinburgh’s former Jenners department store is set to return to its ‘former glory’ and reopen as a luxury hotel after plans were approved by councillors.
One of the most historic buildings in the city centre, Jenners has occupied space at the east end of Princes Street for 184 years.
But having stood empty since last year when previous occupants of the Frasers Group closed up shop, the future of the former ‘Harrods of the North’ was for some time shrouded in uncertainty.
The ambitious plans were offered by AAA United A/S, the holding company owned by Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen who bought the store for £53million in 2017.
The proposals promise to retain the building’s early Renaissance-style facade while paving the way for new uses.
Welcoming the major project, inner city ward councilor Jo Mowat said the redevelopment “done with sensitivity” will give the site a “new lease of life”.
Key elements of the original Jenners store will be retained, such as the central atrium and iconic exterior signage, which the council ordered restored last year after being removed by the Frasers Group.
However, the building will undergo significant changes as it takes the form of a 96-room boutique hotel on the upper floors.
A new seventh floor will be added to the 1905 extension at the corner of South St, David Street and Rose Street, which will make room for a gym, factory and rooftop terrace bar.
In the lower part, Jenners will remain traditionally used as a shopping destination with retail spaces and food and beverage outlets from the basement to the first floor.
In a statement submitted with the planning documents, AAA United A/S Director Anders Krogh said, “We understand the scale of the challenge and are fully committed to honoring this building and its place in the future of ‘Edinburgh.
“We knew that one day the Jenners building would be vacant and we would have a moral obligation to restore it to its former glory. We hope that we can get support to accomplish this very important task.
“This project aims to secure the future of the Jenners building for generations to come. The original Jenners building will always remain and is the very DNA of our plans, with the redevelopment of a dynamic, sustainable and accessible department store being at the heart of the project.
The plans were submitted to Edinburgh City Council’s Development Management Sub-Committee for final approval on Wednesday and councilors unanimously granted permission for the works as well as change of use and consent to the building class.
Conservative Councilor Jo Mowat said: ‘I have a deep affection for the Jenners building and I’m also in the position that I’ve seen the plan of all these buildings because I was lucky enough to put up the Dundas monument before and to look down on that, so improving that is really important for the city.
“It’s great to see a project focused on conservation and the care and attention needed to open up the space and bring in the light.
“Having a building brought back to the use of natural light I think makes such a space enhanced and will allow that to shine, so I really welcome this project. I think it seems done with a lot of sensitivity and I think it will give this building a whole new life.
SNP Councilor Neil Gardiner, SNP, added: “I think the design sets an example of how to reuse buildings like this, it sorts out the guddle when moving through the building. It really sets a clear direction on how to enhance existing buildings and make them fit for the 21st century.
“I am also delighted to see this level of investment in Edinburgh city centre, there has obviously been a downturn in retail around the world and it is good to see that people want to invest in retail detail in Edinburgh and shows the strength of Edinburgh’s economy and people’s faith in Edinburgh’s future as the capital of Scotland.