Kebab house skewers city planners over new window

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A KEBAB shop has won a battle with the city council to install a new window after appealing all the way to the Scottish Government.

Uncle’s Pizza and Kebab House wanted to fit a huge, flat window to return the look of the building to its Victorian splendour.

But when owner Mahmut Sarher submitted an application for listed building consent for the George IV Bridge establishment, councillors ruled against it, saying it would spoil the appearance of the street.

Now the Government has overruled the local authority, giving the green light for the work on the building which dates back to the 1850s.

Mr Sarher, who only learned of the appeal’s success when contacted by the Evening News, said he felt the current building “sticks out like a sore thumb” and wants to make it more like other local premises.

“I’m really surprised,” he said. “We really want to change the windows from the two small ones into one large but the council said no.

“That gave us two options, to appeal to the council again or go to the Scottish Government.

“I’m delighted this has happened, and hope we can get the work done now.”

Bizarrely, planning chiefs in Edinburgh did not reject the plan because they objected to the proposed design, which would have created a “Victorian-style” frontage similar to neighbouring shops.

Instead, they argued, the “Art Deco” appearance of the shop - formerly called Constantinopol – which sees two curved windows move in towards a withdrawn doorway, would be a loss to the character of George IV Bridge.

They felt it would be a mistake to lose “a rare survivor of improvements of this sort carried out in the Old Town in the 1930s and one of the few examples in the city of a 20th century Art Deco shopfront”.

However, Holyrood has dismissed this fear and allowed the project to go ahead.

Because the shopfront barely took up a tenth of the listed building, bosses said, permission could be granted.

Planning reporter Mike Croft said: “It is clear that the unity of the block is an essential element that led to its listing.

“My assessment is that the appeal project would add to that unity. It would restore proportion and rhythm.

“I do not accept the appellant’s assessment that the present shopfront sticks out like a ‘sore thumb’, but it does have adverse elements, notable its out-of-character deep fascia.

“I agree with the council that the existing shopfront has merit, and to that extent the appeal project is contrary to their non-statutory guidelines.

“But that is outweighed by the project’s advantages.”