A SCRAP has broken out between two of the Capital’s flagship hotels over ambitious plans for al fresco dining in the heart of the West End.
Bosses at the Rutland Hotel want to create a major new outdoor seating area – but saw original plans for a timber canopy enclosure savaged by the neighbouring Caledonian Hotel.
It feared the structure would block access to the landmark Caley building, damage its views of Princes Street and become a magnet for antisocial behaviour.
That forced the Rutland back to the drawing board – and a new proposal will see nearly 60 diners accommodated under four-metre high canvas parasols, at the busy junction of Princes Street, Lothian Road and Rutland Street.
In an official objection, Nitin Ramtri, the Waldorf Astoria-owned Caley hotel’s director of operations, said: “The location of the proposed enclosure and outdoor seating lies exactly across the main entrance to the Caledonian Hotel and, as such, we are concerned about the impact that it would have with regards to access to the hotel. In particular, this enclosure would be erected directly in the access paths from Shandwick Place as well as from the west end of Princes Street.
“These are the main on foot routes used by our guests, as they either approach eastbound from Haymarket Station-Shandwick Place bus or tram stop, or westbound from the city centre.”
Mr Ramtri also stressed that occupants in as many as 30 guest rooms facing the proposed dining area would suffer as a result of increased noise and disturbance which, he said, could be attributed “directly” to the sale of alcohol.
“We would welcome clarification on what measures the applicant plans to take to avoid the enclosure becoming an antisocial gathering are, after the hours of operation, and to ensure the area is not being used by vagrants overnight,” he added.
Following the complaint, Signature Pub Group, which owns the Rutland, filed revised proposals in which the timber enclosure was replaced with foldable canvass parasols.
It is not yet known how these are viewed by bosses at the Caledonian, who were tight-lipped today and said only that they had nothing to add to their original complaint.
The plans have been recommended for approval by the city council’s development management sub-committee, which meets tomorrow. Heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association has also weighed into the row, warning key sight lines could be damaged.
They also branded the proposed outdoor seating as “street clutter”.
Bosses at Signature Pub Group, which has a fast-growing portfolio including Element, Huxley and Kyloe restaurants – declined to comment.
Cow move an udderly ‘poor show’
SIGNATURE Pub Group, which owns the Rutland Hotel, is no stranger to controversy when it comes to ambitious development plans.
In December last year, company bosses were ordered to remove a landmark cow sculpture at its adjoined Kyloe restaurant which had been sticking out of a window for two years.
Planning chiefs said the Rutland Place eatery did not apply for planning permission to put up the brown and white cow, and that there had been a series of complaints.
But the firm said it had not caused any problems over the years and was “practically an Edinburgh landmark”.
Owner Nic Wood said: “So many customers find us by the cow, love the cow, discuss the cow, are mesmerised by the cow.
“It’s a really poor show that the council now ask us to take it down. What harm is it doing?”