The initiative has already been successful on Leith Walk, where the “I Love Leith” banners are said to have contributed to a greater sense of community in the area. And now city planners have agreed to adapt regulations to allow it to be rolled out across the city’s nine local “town centres”, including Gorgie/Dalry, Morningside/Bruntsfield, Stockbridge and Tollcross.
Under the changes, the National Museum of Scotland will be allowed to advertise its events using giant banners on Chambers Street for the first time, while a series of banners promoting the Edinburgh “Inspiring Capital” brand will also hang from the side of Eastfield Road, the main approach road between the A8 and the airport.
Two of the first areas to introduce the banners will be Gorgie – where a “Gorgeous Gorgie” campaign has already been launched and the banners are expected to go up within weeks – and Corstorphine.
Maria Kelly, chairwoman of the Gorgie/Dalry Community Council, believes that they could prove to be a positive tool in promoting the area.
She said: “When I’ve walked down Leith Walk [the banners] make me look up. I’m not from that area but it tells you about famous local people and places and that can only be a positive thing. Gorgie/Dalry has a real high street with some lovely shops – it’s not just about chains – and it would be a good idea if this makes people more aware of that.”
The banners won’t carry advertising but will “reflect some of the local characteristics” of each area.
Officials say their proposed changes to the 2008 “city dressing strategy” are justified as the banners will “promote the values and qualities of the particular town centre”, while making “an important contribution to the economic vitality of town centres” and demonstrating the confidence of the authorities and community in the town centres.
Graham Russell, one of the city’s “town centre co-ordinators”, who first introduced the “I Love Leith” banners to help the area recover from the impact of tram works, said: “It is an economic development longterm strategy to build stronger town centres and Leith Walk was the first one to get the banners and it was done to drive footfall, improve the environment and appearance, retain jobs and attract new investment.
“The banners were the first thing to lift people’s eyes away from what they expect on Leith Walk. There was a major effect and the work we did helped to brand the area around ‘I Love Leith’ and bring Leith Walk back from its previous position. There was also a huge amount of community ownership about it.”
Councillor Jim Lowrie, the city’s planning leader, said: “In local town centres such as Leith, banners have had a positive impact in reinforcing local identity and helping to support the local economy. They are also a positive way of highlighting various international and national events taking place in Edinburgh throughout the year.”
Nine “town centres”:
Nicolson Street/Clerk Street
Two key city streets for
purposes of ‘city dressing’:
This is in addition to existing locations where banners are already allowed, including: Princes Street, Picardy Place, Grassmarket, Lothian Road, Ocean Terminal.