PUB chain JD Wetherspoon is bidding to open yet another city centre bar after publishing plans to replace the Jimmy Chung’s buffet on Waverley Bridge.
Proposals for another venue in Victoria Street in the heart of the Old Town have also been submitted, meaning the pub giant could end up with nine bars in Edinburgh.
Critics said plans for Waverley Bridge marked a “sad day” for the city, and said the proliferation of pubs was a “failure” for planners.
A 13-metre long bar would serve more than 200 drinkers while two beer garden areas would be opened up on either side of the building.
JD Wetherspoon is also pushing forward with plans for a multi-storey bar in the former Khushi’s Indian restaurant in Victoria Street, which would also hold hundreds of drinkers.
Douglas Rothwell, a property surveyor and consultant for the Jimmy Chung’s chain, said that the restaurant was not under immediate threat of closure, but could shut within six months if plans are accepted.
He said: “The Jimmy Chung’s restaurant group has agreed to collaborate with Network Rail, who are the landlords of this property, and JD Wetherspoon, who are developers of leisure premises, in order to look at possible ways to improve the appearance of this cornerstone building at the station entrance.
“This is an important property which is difficult and expensive to maintain, and an opportunity has arisen to spread the load of putting the property in the sort of condition that it should be in.”
Mr Rothwell added: “All of this is subject to the views of the planning department, and no final conclusions or decisions have been reached.”
Old Town Community Council chairman Bill Cowan said the high business rates prevented independent firms from taking on the site.
He said: “It’s a very sad day. It’s not what we want to promote, it’s not what we want to see. It’s bad for ratepayers, it’s not going to promote new investment. Sadly, there’s very little that can be done.
“That’s a prime location, and there should be something good there. The problem is that the ground rent is so high, the only people who can afford them are these huge chains, who are viciously commercial and make enough money to pay the rent.”
A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said: “Wetherspoons opened its first pub in Edinburgh 15 years ago, and since then all our pubs have been a success, so we’re always keen to open more.
“Wetherspoons spends in the region of £1.5 million on each new pub, and creates roughly 50 jobs at each location. If these pubs do open, we believe it will be good news for Edinburgh and will be the catalyst for further investment in the city.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said its rates were comparable to those charged across the city centre.