Edinburgh TV company behind Good Omens, The Rig and Tiny Wonders says new Leith aparthotel could kill business
An Edinburgh TV production company has issued a plea to city planners to reject a bid to convert a historic warehouse into an aparthotel – claiming that noise and disruption created would kill off their business.
Owners of Freakworks at the Shore – which works with Netflix, Amazon and the BBC – said if proposals to change the Warehouse on Water Street to a hotel get the go-ahead it will be impossible for them to survive due to noise and disruption. The application building is a four-storey warehouse built in the 1950s which is adjoined to Freakworks state-of-the-art studios, where they have grown the business for the last 20 years.
Creators of the BBC kids series Tiny Wonders, the company has also worked on post-production for big hit shows like The Rig and Anansi Boys, filmed at First Stage Studios in Leith. It also did the post production for Good Omens, filmed in West Lothian and have recently opened studios in New Zealand.
CEO Hamish Alison said the proposed hotel should be stopped. He said: "If this hotel goes ahead it would be impossible for us and our tenants would go out of business. With the possibility of at least 90 guests, there would be constant noise from delivery services at all hours, the predictable stag and hen parties, and the inevitable increased traffic. There's a lack of buildings for the creative industry in the city because many are changing use to tourism. The much lauded creative cluster at the Shore is well documented and we want to see it thriving, but I know many are looking to relocate due to a lack of support.”
Under the plan by Water Street Propco Investment Ltd, which goes before committee on Wednesday May 24, the four-storey warehouse building behind Waterside House would be converted to a 45-bed aparthotel with single storey extension. The site, which is adjacent to historic Lambs House, sits behind the Shore, surrounded by residential properties as well as a mix of offices, studios, pubs and other businesses.
Freakworks has lodged an objection but a date for plans going before council committee was brought forward from June to Wednesday 24 May. The company was given 24 hours notice on Friday of a bank holiday weekend to request a hearing. Mr Alison added: “Leith doesn’t need a mega aparthotel. Granting this development would be extremely shortsighted. The council has to value the year-round economic value generated by thriving creative businesses and support that over out of town developers. Keeping the building within the creative sector could generate many many more jobs than a loosely serviced Aparthotel would. At the end of the day we just want the opportunity for a fair hearing not to be dictated to on these plans which would have a seriously detrimental impact for many businesses and residents alike.”
Concerns have also been raised about the impact on traffic as Broad Wynd has been cited as an area for taxi drop offs for hotel guests. The one-way, narrow cobbled street is subject to the Leith Low Traffic Neighbourhood changes, which will introduce road restrictions from 12 June.
Businesses against the hotel bid fear that the levels of traffic, luggage-trolleys, deliveries, waste collections for up to 90 residents plus staff would place “an impossible burden” on Broad Wynd and the surrounding streets. The plans have received 33 objections out of 38 comments during consultation.
An Edinburgh council spokesperson said the authority cannot comment on a live planning application.