Victoria Street superpub plans scrapped

Khushi's on Victoria Street. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Khushi's on Victoria Street. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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PLANS to turn a former Indian restaurant in the Old Town into a £2 million Wetherspoon superpub have been scrapped for the second time.

The Evening News has learned that landlord 1V Limited has withdrawn an application to transform the old Khushi’s in Victoria Street.

Attempts last year to open a large Wetherspoon pub were knocked back amid claims the scheme would have a negative impact on the B-listed structure, which has lain empty since it was devastated by a blaze in 2008.

In July, we told how a fresh pub bid had been launched for the site, with Wetherspoon again lined up as the likely occupier.

Bosses at 1V said their proposal was scrapped because of “design issues” but stressed that another application would be submitted.

Community leaders today expressed delight at the pub plan’s collapse.

Bill Cowan, chair of Old Town Community Council, said: “We are pleased it has been withdrawn.

“We don’t know the full story – whether the planners have told them that they didn’t stand a chance because of all the objections or whether the developers behind the nearby India Buildings project are not keen on having a Wetherspoon there, and have somehow persuaded the landlord to go for something else. The premises deserve something better. We would like to see the area improved and having a large pub there seemed a rather retrograde step.”

Proposed blueprints for Victoria Street came after city chiefs gave the go-ahead for Wetherspoon to turn the former Picture House in Lothian Road into a huge pub.

The plans included a new floor within the roof space, complete with outdoor terraces to the side and rear.

Official documents also insisted that the scrapped scheme would have sensitively showcased “the building’s historic character”.

Wetherspoon bosses stressed that no final decision had ever been taken to open in Victoria Street.

Eddie Gershon, spokesman for the firm, said: “Wetherspoon is looking to open a number of sites in Edinburgh. We have been linked with the former Khushi’s restaurant but, at present, we have no direct involvement.

“The landlord is aiming to gain planning permission for development and any moves that are made are made directly by the landlord.”

A spokesman for 1V said: “We have withdrawn the application because of design issues and to keep the council happy.

“However, we fully intend to re-submit and produce something really outstanding for that building.

“It will be a food-led bar, 
creating at least 70 jobs, and it will be environmentally, historically and architecturally correct.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com