Shop renovations and fresh tenants to give Leith boost

THE Foot of the Walk is to get a new lease of life, with two rows of shops set for renovation and the former Woolworths store re-occupied after standing empty for two years.

Four shops in Constitution Street and another three in Duke Street are in line for shopfront renovations by owners NWG Ltd.

Director Nikkie Vohra said: "They badly need renovated. Because they've been tenant-occupied, the tenants haven't done any work with them, so we as a landlord thought it would be a good idea to renovate them and make the whole street look better.

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"We've got a couple of empty shops and we thought they'd let a lot better once they're renovated. Aesthetically, they could do with a makeover.

"It's been so neglected, especially over the past two years with the trams. The tenants have suffered badly because the road was blocked and now that the initial tram works are over we think it would be a good time to renovate the shops and help the tenants."

The project, which has been submitted for planning permission and listed building consent, would see the front of all the shops in the former cinema building renovated, including Carolyn Designer Florist, Boneyard Tattoo Studio and dog beautician Lisa's Little Angels Salon.

Excluded would be Wetherspoon's The Foot of the Walk pub, which is not owned by NWG Ltd, and the Marksman pub, which carried out its own renovations recently.

The firm has applied for aid from the council's Leith Townscape Heritage Initiative Shopfront Improvement Grant Scheme to assist with the cost of the work.

Mr Vohra said he had two potential tenants ready to move into empty units in the building. Also newly filled is the former Woolworths store, which is reopening as a British Heart Foundation furniture and electrical store.

Remaining empty, however, is the former Jobcentre in the Leith Central Station building on the south-east corner of the junction.

Leith councillor Gordon Munro said: "I supported the extension of the Leith Shopfront Improvement scheme so that it would include Duke Street and Constitution Street and I'm pleased to see that this will help businesses in the immediate area of the Foot of the Walk who have had a hard time, not just because of the recession but because of some of the roadworks - not all of them tram works - that have impacted on their business.

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"Hopefully there will be a ripple effect so that public- spirited local businessmen will be encouraged by the improvements by their neighbours to do up their own shopfronts."

Gordon Burgess, of the Leith Business Association, said: "I'm sure it will be welcomed by everyone in the area. Anything that's going to be positive at that end of the Walk is welcome."

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