Bar chain appeals vote to stop ‘superpub’

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A bar chain is fighting back after councillors rejected its controversial plan to convert a former city centre chapel into one of the Capital’s largest pubs.

Waxy O’Connors’ application to transform the B-listed Charlotte Baptist Chapel in Rose Street into a 910-capacity “superpub” was derailed at a planning hearing in December.

Councillors voted 10-2 against the move amid fears of excessive noise and rowdy behaviour spoiling the character of the narrow lane.

But Glendola Leisure, which runs the Irish-themed pub chain, has now launched an appeal against the decision.

In a lengthy submission to the Scottish Government’s directorate for planning and appeals, the firm calls for the plans to be reconsidered.

Steven Black, of agent Jones Lang LaSalle, takes issue with the council’s stance that the blueprint is contrary to local development plan policies relating to noise, disturbance at antisocial hours and inconvenience to local residents.

He writes: “The reasons for refusal fail to take into account the factual evidence submitted with the application, speculate on potential disturbance and fail to take adequate notice of the relevant policies of the development plan, supplementary guidance and material considerations which all add weight in favour of granting the proposed change of use.”

Mr Black also argues that the proposals are in the “city centre and not a residential area”.

At the December hearing, planning convener Ian Perry said the committee had “faced a difficult decision” but was concerned about the effect the “biggest pub in Edinburgh” would have on a small city centre street.

The decision to refuse the application – which went against the recommendation of council officials – came against a flood of opposition from councillors, Police Scotland, residents, business and the New Town community council. As well as noise, residents were concerned another booze-selling venue being introduced to the city’s night economy.

Rose Street resident Neil Simpson, who has lived in the area for 20 years and spearheaded the residents’ campaign, said: “The appeal is incredibly frustrating, given such an emphatic decision by the planning committee. We are all submitting further evidence to the reporter.”

City Centre councillor Joanna Mowat said she was equally disappointed by Glendola’s decision to appeal.

She said: “It was very clear from the community and the council that it was inappropriate to have such a large venue.

“We hope that the reporter upholds the council’s position.”