Unholy row over venue plan for former Edinburgh church

Neighbours fear proposals will mean an increase in noise and traffic in a peaceful residential area of the city
Neighbours fear proposals will mean an increase in noise and traffic in a peaceful residential area of the city
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RESIDENTS in Morningside are fighting plans to turn a former community centre into a wedding venue which could open seven days a week until 1am.

They claim the proposal for the Cluny Centre, a former church, in Braid Road would shatter the peace and quiet of the residential area and make parking problems in the area even worse. Owners of the Raeburn Hotel in Stockbridge, who bought the building from the Church of Scotland last year, want to use part of the ground floor for a nursery, but the rest as a wedding venue for up to 200 guests.

It is understood it might also be used for Festival events and conferences.

James Tetlow, who lives right opposite, said: “This is a peaceful, even tranquil part of Morningside, away from the town centre, away from the main road, and it’s surrounded by residential streets.

“It feel completely out of step with everything in the area.

“I oppose the application on the basis of increased noise and smells – noise from a disco/band, cars/taxis coming and going, people congregating outside to smoke, people talking loudly after a few drinks, air conditioning units, kitchen ventilation systems and associated smells, rubbish collection especially glass bottle collection, the list goes on.”

He said the plan would also mean increased traffic, with delivery lorries, cars and taxis coming to the building, and extra pressure on parking spaces. “Parking is already a bit of a challenge,” he said.

Mr Tetlow said the proposal had been described as “a festival venue, conference centre and wedding venue” and he feared it could be used for other events too.

“I have this nightmare vision of next December and office Christmas parties night after night, seven days a week.”

Another neighbour Sam Wason said: “We’re all pretty shocked that such a dramatic change of use could be thought of as appropriate or that this would be deemed an appropriate use of a building in such a residential area.

“We totally agree the building has to be used and we understand the developer has bought the building and needs to have something viable for it.

“But the proposal is for Class 11 use, which means it could be used as a disco, nightclub, casino. Once change of use is allowed, they can use it as any of these things.

Morningside Tory councillor Nick Cook said he was also opposing the plan.

He said: “I have been contacted by scores of concerned residents regarding the proposals to turn the Cluny Centre into a commercial wedding venue in the middle of residential Morningside.

“There are real concerns in respect of antisocial behaviour, noise pollution and an increase in traffic volume in an area where many residents already struggle to be able to park outside their own home, without the arrival of coach loads of visitors.”

The Grade A-listed building, previously South Morningside Church, was built in 1890 and converted into community halls and meeting rooms in 1974 following the union of two neighbouring congregations.

An agent for the new owners said they did not want to comment.