Plans to build Scotland’s first shoreline sauna at Portobello submitted to Edinburgh City Council

Opinion blows hot and cold as locals clash with wild swimmers over the new seaside steam room.

By Shona Elliott
Thursday, 25th March 2021, 7:00 am

A new business venture, Soul Sauna, is seeking council permission to build a mobile wood-burning sauna in the Capital’s coastal suburb.

The project has been inspired by other steam room companies popping up all over the country during lockdown.

If granted its licence a wooden public sauna will be built in the pronounced promenade between James Street and John Street this summer.

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If granted licence a wooden public sauna will be built in the pronounced promenade between James Street and John Street.

The application was submitted to the licensing committee on March 1 and the applicant claims the steam room will improve the trade of existing businesses in Portobello by bringing people into its promenade.

Developers also highlighted the environmental positives of the project stating it will provide a relaxing experience of escapism while encouraging people to connect with wildlife.

Portobello councillor Maureen Child said public opinion is divided over this project with some residents opposing the development.

Councillor Child said: “It’s fair to say there is quite a sharp division of views on this application, as so often happens in Portobello.

The new business venture Soul Sauna hopes to open this summer.

“Sea swimmers are all for it, while immediate neighbours are not nearly so keen.

“Unlike with the Ferris Wheel further east there will be ample opportunity for people to have their say and it will be a licensing committee decision.”

Open sea swimming coach and owner of Scottish Swimmers Colin Campbell said the project could in theory ‘be great’ but highlighted health and safety risks surrounding the project.

“A sauna after a cold dip is very enjoyable and I think it could be very popular but there are health and safety issues to consider” said the 44-year-old outdoor swimmer from North Edinburgh.

Public opinion is divided over the sauna with some residents opposing the development.

“If you have been in the water for a long time you need to heat up gradually, your body heat can drop significantly when you are in the water for a long time and going into a sauna straight after may increase chances of fainting.”

A notice from Edinburgh City Council states that anyone wishing to object to this grant of a licence must lodge a written objection with the council’s licensing service by April 12.

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