Councillors have refused to allow traders to set up a street market in the Old Town over fears the plans could “fundamentally destroy the character of the conservation area”.
The proposals for the former Edinburgh City Council Royal Mile Nursery, located between the High Street and Cockburn Street, would have seen the site adapted for 13 wooden market stalls in the former playground courtyard.
The plans were tabled by traders who formally operated at the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile, before the council closed the market to open a visitor centre. Applicants believed the plans were a “direct replacement” to the former Tron market. The “small street market” would have also included an indoor cafe with a seating area, as well as a small office and staff area and toilets.
Stuart Ramsay, the director of the scheme, said that residents would not be impacted by noise from the market.
He said: “I would argue that the noise generated by up to 13 traders, only five of whom will be backing onto Cockburn Street, would be minimal to the residents and businesses already present in the area, whilst also bearing in mind the whole site is limited to a maximum of 100 people including the cafe.
“I believe our project potentially offers the best from the site, as it can be visited freely and offers much wider benefits like jobs, opportunities for small business and an alternative shopping experience just off the Royal Mile.”
Planning officers told councillors it could “potentially increase footfall and disturbance” to nearby residents on both the Royal Mile and Cockburn Street.
Councillors voted to back recommendations to reject the plans – despite some calling for the traders to be given a chance.
Cllr Alex Staniforth said it was quite reasonable to have wooden stalls “in an Old Town that was essentially a market town”.
He added: “I don’t agree with the officer’s conclusion here. I don’t think a nursery is necessarily more comfortable to live next to than a market, which I think could be easier to live beside. I would have thought a nursery is more disruptive.
“I don’t think it damages the UNESCO World Heritage site, rather it improves it.”
Cllr Hal Osler also called for the proposals to be accepted. She said: “There’s actually quite a lot of space in it. I don’t think there’s any more noise of people coming into a well-controlled market space. I don’t think we have put forward a satisfactory argument to reject it.”
But planning convener, Cllr Neil Gardiner, said the scheme should be rejected in order to protect residents living in the city centre.
He said: “It would compromise the residential amenity of the flats around the secluded courtyard. Having a market there would not add to people choosing to make it their long-term home.
“We all want to see more people living in the city centre and enjoying that.”