Edinburgh cocktail bar Tonic in North Castle Street sparks row over chalet-style grotto in New Town

Conservationists object to temporary addition in Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site

A row has broken out over a cocktail bar’s decision to add a temporary ski chalet-style frontage at its New Town premises.

Tonic in North Castle Street has built the seasonal timber addition in previous years, sparking objection from conservationists but now it is back again. The bar advertises its “famous ski chalet” as being “better than ever this year with an all new festive drinks menu”. And footage of the Christmas-decorated interior of the grotto structure, named Apres Tonic, features on the bar’s Facebook page.

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The Cockburn Association, the Capital’s oldest heritage organisation, said it had reported “a potentially unauthorised alteration to a listed building” to the council.

The ski chalet addition to the Tonic cocktail bar has been criticised by conservationists.

The council has said a planning application has been submitted for the Christmas and New Year season and it is currently being checked. But a similar application was refused last year and the Cockburn Association said it was “rather extraordinary” that the chalet had been put up again without the necessary permissions.

The council said the refusal last year was because the temporary chalet structure proposed at 34a North Castle Street failed to preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area and listed building. It cited the size, scale and incongruous materials involved. The decision notice said: “The proposed ski grotto would have a seriously adverse and detrimental impact on the historic and architectural character of this Category 'B' listed building and the adjacent listed buildings.”

But a spokesman for the bar said they were pleased to have the Apres Tonic installation back for its third year. “It's extremely popular every festive season with bookings filling up before November even starts. Customers have been excitedly contacting us for weeks now asking if and when it will be back, and we were over the moon to officially open it on Friday night.

“The ski chalet design fits in with the temporary installations on George Street such as the pop-up bars alongside the Ice Rink, keeping the Edinburgh's Christmas theme alive. We're looking forward to another busy festive period and hope, during these tough times, we can keep bringing a smile to our customers faces.”

The council confirmed that planning officers had received enquiries about the property and were investigating.