Record objections to student bar next to school

An artist's impression of the new Boroughmuir High School. Picture: Comp
An artist's impression of the new Boroughmuir High School. Picture: Comp
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FEARS a student union cafe and bar will be “highly attractive” to schoolchildren next door has led to a record number of objections.

The sports bar – planned as part of a 200-bed student accommodation in Fountainbridge – is facing staunch opposition from worried residents who argue it will set a bad example to pupils at the new Boroughmuir High School.

The application to serve alcohol from 11am, seven days a week, has sparked a furious backlash, with more than 100 people writing to council bosses to condemn the plans.

Parents are worried the premises, which would not be exclusive to Napier students, would give school pupils who have turned 18 “an immediate and attractive source of alcohol” during school hours.

Alison Dunnett, who spoke at yesterday’s licensing meeting on behalf of the school’s parent council alongside headteacher David Dempster, said there were several concerns.

She said: “The main issue for the parent council is the wider picture – messages on the benefits of healthy eating, on children and alcohol, and on the perceived Scottish attitude to drinking. There are also concerns that children, aged from 16 up, will be allowed to access the premises.”

In a series of written objections to the committee, the parent council said the proposed two-storey, glass-fronted bar would be “in full view of the whole west side of the school”.

They fear this will be distracting to students and many impressionable youngsters will see smokers congregating outside the venue.

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said it was a far cry from the original suggestions for the site – which included relocating Fountainbridge library – with the change of use application coming later.

“When the decision was taken, in June 2012, to build Boroughmuir High School on the Fountainbridge site, the next-door building was earmarked for general purpose, community use,” he said.

“No-one objects to a cafe-bar for students, but not one that is literally a footpath-width from the school grounds, where unaccompanied 16 and 17-year-olds are intentionally part of the customer base and where the hours of alcohol consumption, from 11am, overlap hugely with school hours.”

A decision on the proposed cafe in Dundee Street was postponed yesterday, pending a site visit by committee chiefs.

An Edinburgh Napier spokesman said: “We look forward to welcoming councillors to Bainfield for the site visit of the Cafe Bar whilst they consider our application.”