New Cowgate hotel granted alcohol licence

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Controversial plans to sell alcohol in a new hotel on the site of the Cowgate fire have been given the go-ahead, despite the area being judged to have an “over-provision” of licences already.

The city’s licensing board approved the application by hotel giant Accor for a licence for an Ibis-branded hotel on the Soco site that was destroyed by fire nearly a decade ago.

Local residents had objected to the proposal, saying there was already enough drink-fuelled antisocial behaviour around the Cowgate area.

Late last year, the city’s licensing board opted to continue its cap on the number of new premises in the Cowgate/Grassmarket area after ruling that there remains “over-provision” and a “presumption against” further licences.

But Councillor Marjorie Thomas, convener of the licensing board, said: “The over-provision policy does say that we will look reasonably favourably on hotels and restaurants, as opposed to just drinking places.”