Wetherspoon’s blasted over fresh £2m superpub plans

Fire crews tackle the Khushi's blaze in 2008. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Fire crews tackle the Khushi's blaze in 2008. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Fresh plans to open a 
£2 million Wetherspoon superpub in Victoria Street have been blasted by community campaigners and heritage groups.

Last year, attempts by the chain to turn the former Khushi’s Indian restaurant into a large pub were knocked back by planning chiefs amid claims the scheme would have a negative impact on the B-listed structure.

It sells Edinburgh short – all these sort of developments just degrade the town

BILL COWAN

But now the pub giant has launched a fresh bid to set up home in the building, which has lain empty since it was devastated by a blaze in December 2008. Community groups slammed the latest attempt as “outrageous” following the “massive number of rejections” that met Wetherspoon’s previous planning application.

The latest proposals come after city chiefs gave the go-ahead for Wetherspoon to transform the former Picture House in Lothian Road into a huge pub in April.

And any pub would be next to the India Buildings, which is set to become a luxury hotel.

Bill Cowan, chairman of the Old Town community council, said: “There were a massive number of rejections to this last year, and the grounds for refusal were comprehensive.

“They are saying there are not enough residents on Victoria Street to matter. Who do they think we are? It’s outrageous. It really sells Edinburgh short – all these sort of developments just degrade the town.

“One of the reasons people come to Edinburgh is it’s not full of this kind of stuff. Old Town community council will be placing an objection.

“Overprovision is our number one objection. The building will now contain three enormous pubs, and we have enough pubs on the street. This is all ground we tread over years ago, but these guys are all at it again. It’s extraordinary.”

Marion Williams, director of heritage group the Cockburn Association, said the city was facing “saturation” from cheap pubs.

She said: “How many superpubs can we accommodate in the city? We are trying to attract tourists and Edinburgh has a unique selling point that is increasingly being eroded.

“Let somebody do something nice – it’s a beautiful street. Why spoil these magical things just to have cheap booze?”

The plans for Victoria Street include creating a new floor within the roof space, complete with three outdoor terraces to the side and rear. Alterations to the front of the building proposed in the last application have been removed.

The plan insists “the proposed scheme will sensitively showcase the building’s historic character, rejuvenating this key building within this part of the Old Town”.

A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said the development would create 70 jobs, adding: “Wetherspoon has exchanged but not completed on the property. We are keen to open a pub, but will await the outcome of the planning committee.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com