'Mr Jenners' to build new shopping centre for Edinburgh

THE former boss of Edinburgh's famous Jenners department store has unveiled plans for a £10 million retail and tourism "village" on the outskirts of the capital.

Around 300 jobs would be created at the development, just off the city bypass, which Andrew Douglas-Miller says is aimed at emulating the likes of the House of Bruar complex in Perthshire.

Earmarked for a site beside the Dalkeith bypass at Fordel Mains, the project would include a major tourism information centre for the Lothians, boasting views across Edinburgh, Fife and the Southern Highlands.

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A hotel, shops, restaurants and cafes would be created on the 12-acre site in Midlothian, which is planned to become a "tourism destination of national importance."

However, the centrepiece of "Fordel View" will be a glass-walled visitor centre, which will showcase key attractions throughout the capital, as well as highlights in surrounding areas and historic sites.

The entire complex is being designed by Edinburgh-based Michael Laird Architects, which masterminded the plans for the Royal Bank of Scotland's global headquarters at Gogarburn.

"The overriding principle is retailing with integrity. This is not another discount/endless sale operation, and Fordel View could not be further away from that type of retailing," said Mr Douglas-Miller, whose family was in charge of Jenners from 1881 until they decided to sell off what had been the longest-running department store in the world in 2005. The business, which was sold to arch-rival House of Fraser, was run latterly by Mr Douglas-Miller and his brother, Robbie.

He added: "This is a retail operation that we can all be proud of and will set the benchmark for tourist destination retailing in central Scotland."

Mr Douglas-Miller has joined forces with Dalkeith-based developer Oakridge Property to pursue the scheme, which has been submitted to planners in Midlothian.

The centre will feature a "destination restaurant", a Selfridges-style food hall, and shops selling "the best of Scotland's larder".

Mr Douglas-Miller said he hoped Fordel View would attract day-trippers from throughout the Central Belt, short-break visitors from elsewhere in the UK and foreign tourists, as well as locals from Edinburgh and the Lothians."The development is going to draw its custom from a wide base and the ranges of merchandise and catering facilities will compliment rather than overlap those currently offered in Midlothian," he added.

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Oakridge Property director Malcolm Cunningham said: "Views and scenery are major reasons why tourists come to Scotland and from this location much of central Scotland and the southern Highlands can be seen.

"Furthermore, 70 per cent of tourists to Scotland come by car, and the A68 and A1, which is just five minutes away, are two of the main routes into Scotland.

"The growing trend in retailing is shopping as a pastime, as much as it is about buying goods. The internet is increasing its share of the retail market.

"The enduring model for recreational shopping will be at locations that are engaging in their architecture and landscapes. This is what tourists look for and is what we will provide."