Reservations over outdoor restaurant bid

Sheraton Hotel at Festival Square.
Sheraton Hotel at Festival Square.
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PLANS to create an open-air restaurant in Festival Square have been approved by councillors, although diners will have to stop drinking at 10pm to avoid clashes with clubbers.

The Sheraton Grand applied for a late licence to create an outdoor eatery to meet demand from European guests.

The restaurant hoped to gain permission for late-night drinking along with formal dining until 1am.

Although the development was approved, councillors said the late licence could lead to trouble and banned drinking after 10pm.

In his submission to the licensing board, Stephen McGowan of solicitors Lindsays, representing the Sheraton, said: “The hotel has a great number of guests from Europe, where it is common to dine at 10pm, 10.30pm or later.

“This would be somewhere that couples can have a glass of wine, and which can provide food late into the evening.”

Mr Gowan explained at Monday’s meeting that the outdoor area would only be accessible by first entering the 269-bedroom hotel but would appeal to non-hotel guests as well.

The licensing board was divided over the issue, with four councillors voting for the application and three against.

Councillor Norman Work said: “This is to the exterior of a five-star hotel and so is slightly different. The fact that you must go through the hotel to get into the outdoor area, and that it is contained seems satisfactory to me.”

However, councillors said its late-night licence and proximity to Lothian Road could lead to disruption.

Convenor Marjorie Thomas said: “It is in the middle of one of the most troubled areas we have dealt with.”

Councillor Mike Bridgeman added: “I think it would attract bother from the rowdier element from Lothian Road.”

Board members asked the hotel if it could restrict access to the restaurant to hotel guests or only serve alcohol with food.However, Mr McGowan said his client was not keen to exclude non-guests.

The hotel has permission to go ahead with the proposals as long as drinking is restricted after 10pm.

Meanwhile, councillors have approved plans to introduce a late-night drinking terrace at Heriot-Watt University union.

The students’ association applied to allow open-air drinking at its union in Riccarton in the west of the city.

Councillors raised concerns that hundreds of students could descend on the patio after rugby games. However, the union agreed to limit numbers to 50.

Mr McGowan, also representing Heriot-Watt University Students’ Association, said: “We don’t believe there will be any nuisance.

“It [the union] is in the middle of nowhere for all intents and purposes and has no neighbours.”

During the hearing council officers raised concerns that there are just eight female toilets in a building with a capacity of 1000.