Edinburgh bars: Festival Village on Waverley Mall dismantled after five years following threat of fine
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An Edinburgh pop-up bar which was ordered to close after greeting guests in the city centre for five years is now being removed.
The Festival Village pop-up bar on top of Waverley Mall is being dismantled by owners, after they were threatened with a £50,000 fine if they didn’t take down the temporary venue. It comes after the council said that the structures disrupted "key views" of the Old and New Towns.
Owners of the venue were served an enforcement notice in September ordering it to be taken away by the end of October following a breach of planning controls. After repeatedly quashed requests for extensions, they were warned that if they didn’t comply they’d be slapped with a fine and council staff would be forced to move in and take it down. But the bosses at Moolmoor Waverley, which runs the pop-up beer garden, have complied with the request after losing their bid to stay until October. Bars, stalls and seating are now being removed from the site.
The enforcement notice said the pop up ‘Festival Village’ has an “adverse impact on the setting of a number of nearby listed buildings, detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the New and Old Town conservation areas, the Outstanding Universal Value of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site and does not represent a high quality design that safeguards the historic environment or contributes to placemaking”.
Owners were contacted by council planners in April and told to clear the plaza after a bid to stay for another three years was refused. However, this was ignored and the Princes Street venue remained open over the summer. The company argued that the venue keeps the area “vibrant” and contributes to the “life and economy of the city centre” by supporting hundreds of jobs.
However, councillors said the Festival Village is “not good enough for one of the number one cities in the world” and have repeatedly squashed requests for extensions. Owners argued it keeps the area “vibrant” and contributes to the “life and economy of the city centre” by supporting hundreds of jobs.
Planning chiefs have said the structures were “of a poor-quality design”, have a “detrimental” impact on the character and appearance of the New and Old Town conservation areas, and have an “adverse” impact on nearby listed buildings.
The local authority granted temporary permission for two years in 2017 and the attraction was able to remain open beyond that period as a result of the Scottish Government’s relaxed rules for hospitality during the pandemic. A bid to get planning consent for another three years was unanimously refused by councillors last December. They concluded any economic benefits provided “would not justify the harm being done”.
The decision was upheld in April following an appeal. New plans were lodged seeking permission again to remain on the site until the end of September, which were also thrown out by councillors in August. Owners of the venue have been contacted for comment.