Lebowskis told to scrap terrace days before fringe

Mo Clark says he feels let down by the council over its planning process. Picture: Scott Louden

Mo Clark says he feels let down by the council over its planning process. Picture: Scott Louden

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A POPULAR pub has been ordered to rip up its outdoor terrace – built almost three years ago – days before the busy festival season begins.

Lebowskis was told its alfresco drinking area on Morrison Street was “unacceptable” after officials noticed the terrace after visiting the pub to inspect a separate beer garden earlier this year.

Pub owners said the decision – which they tried to fight by applying for permission retrospectively – will cost them at least £15,000

The small wooden decking area, which is surrounded by a black wrought iron railing, was deemed to “significantly prejudice the architectural and historic interest” of the listed building the bar occupies.

Officials ruled that the decking was “adversely affecting the special character and appearance of the wider West End Conservation Area” – despite having been fitted three years ago.

Now an enforcement letter has been issued, effectively ordering the bar’s owners to rip up their terrace at the height of summer.

Mo Clark, 33, co-owner of the bar named after cult Coen Brother’s film The Big Lebowski, said he had been “let down” by the planning process.

He added: “The word ‘frustrated’ doesn’t do it justice. The process is really long-winded.

“It leaves you asking questions, and wondering when things are going to happen.

“You feel let down, particularly in these tough times when you’re doing everything you can to make a business successful, so that it can survive and continue to employ 17 members of staff.”

Mr Clark went on to say: “At times it feels like the council don’t see the greater good that businesses like ours do.

“We pay all our rates on time, yet we get no support when situations like this arise.”

The owners argued that the expensive building work at the front and rear of the property had enhanced the building – particularly the beer garden.

But planners forced the bar to change the ratio of stone paving to wooden decking following a complaint from a neighbour.

Mr Clark said: “I defy anybody to look at the state that it was in before, and the way it now looks now in keeping with the surrounding area, and say it doesn’t look better than before. I can’t imagine anyone saying that.”

To his knowledge, Mr Clark said, no complaint had ever been filed over the Morrison Street terrace.

A council spokeswoman said: “Retrospective planning permission for an external ­terrace at Lebowski’s bar 
has been refused because it has an adverse effect on the appearance of the building, which is listed and is of historic interest.

“The owner has been notified of this and now has the opportunity to appeal the ­decision.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com