Proposals to open a “world-class” whisky tourist destination in one of Edinburgh's most prominent empty buildings is set to go ahead. Drinks giant Diageo's plans for the former House of Fraser building at the west end of Princes Street are expected to be passed next week. They have been recommended for approval by council planning officers.
Diageo wants to transform the prime site as part of a £150m investment dedicated to its brand. No specific budget has been revealed for the project.
The Diageo Johnnie Walker whisky experience could create up to 180 new full-time jobs and would include an immersive visitor experience across three floors of the vacant building.
If approved, the former Frasers building would be adapted to provide an events space for staging music, theatre and community events along with a bar academy while retail space would be on offer on street level.
The iconic cantilevered clock would remain as part of the plans.
When the proposals were initially tabled, the company pledged to create the best bar in the world overlooking Edinburgh Castle. If approved, the visitor experience could be open by Christmas 2020.
Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, told planners that the level of change proposed is not significant in terms of the World Heritage Site.
In a report to councilors, officers said the proposals are acceptable in principle and will sustain and enhance the city centre.
The Diageo proposals received eight letters of support from residents and no objections. The plans will go to the council's development management sub-committee.