CAMPAIGNERS have blocked a controversial bid to convert a former city centre chapel into one of Edinburgh’s largest bars – branding the decision a “clear win for local protest”.
Waxy O’Connors’ application to transform Charlotte Baptist Chapel in Rose Street into a 910-capacity “superpub” was derailed at a planning summit yesterday with councillors voting overwhelmingly against the move.
Glendola Leisure, which runs the successful Waxy O’Connors chain, said it was “disappointed” with the outcome and will now “carefully consider” its next step.
The decision came against a mountain of opposition from city centre councillors, Police Scotland, disgruntled residents, business and the New Town community council. They all voiced fears over excessive noise and rowdy behaviour spoiling the character of the narrow lane.
Doubts now hang over the Charlotte Baptists’ intended move to St Andrew’s and St George’s West in Shandwick Place which would have been funded by the multi-million pound sale to Glendola Leisure.
Rose Street resident Neil Simpson, who has lived in the area for 20 years and spearheaded the residents’ campaign against the pub, said the decision – which went against the recommendation of officials – demonstrated that politicians had listened to voters.
He said: “I think the sign is clear from the committee in terms of the ten-two vote and I would hope that Glendola thinks again about taking it to appeal given the residents’ opposition has clearly been understood by the committee.”
“I would also hope that Charlotte Baptist Chapel thinks again about alternative uses for the building in order to deliver a legacy that would be more fitting after 200 years on the site.”
He added: “The campaign was a combined effort and a clear win for local protest in the heart of the city.”
Planning convener Ian Perry said the committee had “faced a difficult decision” but was concerned about the effect the “biggest pub in Edinburgh” would have on a small city centre street.
Alex Salussolia, managing director of Glendola Leisure Group, said: “Clearly, we are very disappointed by the decision not to grant approval.
“We continue to believe our proposals would be good for the city of Edinburgh, bringing significant investment, new jobs and substantial tax income.
“We also believe concerns raised by some residents around noise and disturbance were addressed through noise mitigation measures and the nature of development proposed, namely a high quality establishment with a significant food offering.”