Edinburgh swingers club in desperate bid to stay open after year-long fight with council

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The club was ordered to close its doors but has now lodged an appeal.

A ‘swingers club’ in Edinburgh has made a last-ditch attempt to stay open after being ordered to shut down by the council.

Cornucopia in Sighthill is fighting an enforcement notice served for operating without planning permission.

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The venue – which claims to be the largest of its kind in the region – was told to cease use of a unit at Bankhead Industrial Estate as a private adult club by January 11. However, an appeal has now been lodged with the Scottish Government who will decide the club’s fate.

The club was ordered to close its doorsThe club was ordered to close its doors
The club was ordered to close its doors

Despite not having planning consent Cornucopia’s website advertises regular ‘swingers nights’ and ‘kink events’ hosted at the former Napier University office, which was subdivided to form “playrooms, kink and BDSM areas” as part of the works undertaken.

Owners have been locked in a planning battle with Edinburgh Council for over a year after an initial application was refused over concerns about the impact on public safety.

Officials also said objections were raised about anti-social behaviour issues. Councillors sitting on the local authority’s local review body (LRB) then threw out an appeal in June, with one saying it was vital to “protect these spaces for industry and business use”.

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Graham Ludar-Smith, who owns Cornucopia’s building, has claimed questions need to be answered about whether moral judgements or religious objections had ‘unduly

influenced’ the decision to refuse permission.

He previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he was under the impression no planning permission was necessary to open the venue. He said the premises was “more like a sports centre” used by different local groups on different days and “the swingers club is one of the people who are going to be using it”.

Planners were also accused of using a “moral standpoint” to block the proposals and it was argued the existence of swingers’ clubs – spaces where couples meet up and engage in sexual activities – was “unavoidable” and best managed in “an area that reduces risk to all parties”.

The latest statement issued on behalf of Ludar-Smith, submitted as part of the appeal against the council’s enforcement notice, accused planners and the LRB of “cherry-picking” reasons to refuse permission and overlooking “critical” national planning policies.

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It said: “This private social club not only promises to be a valuable addition to Edinburgh’s social landscape but also brings tangible benefits to the local community and economy.”

It added: “The nature of the rejection raises questions as to whether extraneous factors, such as moral judgements potentially related to the development’s nature or religious objections to certain activities, unduly influenced the decision.”

The public is invited to make representations to the Scottish Government about the case until December 29 and it is anticipated a final decision will be issued by March.

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