A HOTEL has been given the go-ahead to set up an outdoor seating area – despite strong opposition from a leading rival.
The Rutland’s original plans for a timber canopy enclosure outside its Huxley Bar attracted criticism from the nearby Caledonian, which raised concerns that it could block access to the landmark building.
The Cockburn Association was also outspoken about the proposals – branding the scheme “street clutter”.
Bosses at the Rutland were then forced back to the drawing board and came up with four-metre high canvas parasols at the busy junction of Princes Street, Lothian Road and Rutland Street.
The city council’s development management sub-committee yesterday gave the green light to the proposals for the “jumbrellas”, which will accommodate nearly 60 diners in the open-air seating area.
Hotel and bar owner Signature Group, which runs the Rutland Hotel, Huxley Bar, Element Bar and Kyloe restaurant, welcomed the decision.
Rutland general manager Murray Ward said: “We are delighted that the council has approved this relatively simple planning application and our customers can sit and enjoy great food and drinks with some of the best views in town.
“We will endeavour to defeat Scotland’s weather and provide dry and warm surroundings long into autumn with a respectful nod to the tremendous work undertaken to transform George Street [with outdoor seating].”
He insisted that despite objections from the Rutland’s neighbours, the criticism did not mean a “turf war” had broken out in the West End.
Mr Ward added: “After the debilitating tram works for so many years, the West End traders formed a virtual club to support each other and all the traders in this vicinity will always respect that bond.”
The new seating area at the Huxley will provide partial shelter for 58 people, enclosed by barriers. The tables, chairs and barriers will be removed from the area overnight and the parasols will only be used between April 1 and September 30 each year.
A council report on the scheme said that despite the area’s “prominent position” in the conservation area and World Heritage Site, the scale of the parasols would have a “limited” visual impact. It adds that the design and nature of the project would not be detrimental to the character and appearance of the area.
In the official objection to the original plans, 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.” Mr Ramtri also stressed that occupants’ rooms facing the proposed dining area would suffer increased noise and disturbance.
A spokeswoman for the hotel said today: “The Caledonian is proud to be part of the business community at the West End.”