Publican to appeal after floating pub application rejected

Calum Mackay has been refused permission for a pontoon on the Water of Leith outside the bar. Picture: Greg Macvean
Calum Mackay has been refused permission for a pontoon on the Water of Leith outside the bar. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A PUBLICAN will appeal against a decision to reject plans for a floating bar on the Water of Leith after councillors unanimously voted to sink the proposal.

Calum Mackay, owner of the Malt & Hops pub at The Shore, hit out after the city’s planning committee ignored advice from their own officials.

Mr Mackay had hoped to develop a deck with an access gangplank on the eastern edge of the Water of Leith basin south of Bernard Street Bridge opposite the pub – and will now fight the decision.

He said he was frustrated by a failure of the planning officers to give the committee a sense of what the pontoon would look like from artists’ impressions received by the council several months ago.

Mr Mackay said “there is a clear need to service the additional demand for flexible outdoor seating and to animate the water space”.

He said: “It isn’t the most encouraging feeling to invest your hard-earned savings into council advice then have them blown out the water by said same officials. However, we are resourceful and innovative in Leith. Stuffy officialdom and nimbyism are unlikely to stop progress in Leith. We persevere, watch this space.”

The floating pub would provide outdoor seating for 60 people, including an accessible toilet and bar.

Planning officials had recommended the extension to be approved – stating that the size and design, road safety and impact on the local area was acceptable.

However, councillors scuppered the proposal at the first development committee since the local election.

Green party Leith councillor Chas Booth said the committee had to take extremely seriously a “highly unusual” objection from the council’s roads department as well as the impact the development would have on the setting of an area with a very high number of listed buildings.

He said: “In my view this application detracts rather than contributes to the sense of place at The Shore.

“By introducing an alien concept to the basin it could jeopardise future development at The Shore and the future of The Shore as a picturesque 
destination and indeed an 
iconic view.”

Councillors also agreed materials proposed for the pontoon – acrylic balustrading and timber – would create a negative impact on the setting by using material out of keeping with the historic water basin.

Community conservation group Friends of the Water of Leith Basin, who objected to the extension, welcomed the decision. A spokesman said: “Preserving the cultural heritage of the area doesn’t mean that we need to stand still or never adapt the area.

“We would also like to work with councillors and the wider community to find a more holistic plan for any new development that prevents a piecemeal approach illustrated by this application.”