Plans for Scotland’s first floating hotel in heart of Leith have been approved by city planners – by just one vote.
The £3.5m development of former Northern Lighthouse Board tender MV Fingal into a 23-bed boutique bolthole by Royal Yacht Enterprise will create 30 new jobs.
Permanently moored in Prince of Wales Dock, the ship, most recently part of the Dazzle Ship exhibition at Leith Docks, will now undergo a major restoration and refurbishment to become a hotel.
Planning convener, Lewis Ritchie, who supported the plans, said it was exactly the type of “unique” application the council should be supporting.
He said: “I don’t think the Shore story is over yet, there is more to be done and what’s so great about the application is it pays attention to the fact Leith has an amazing maritime history, that it is a working dock.
“I think this would be a necessary and useful addition to what is already at the Shore.
“We know that there is development constraints, we know the Shore and waterfront has a lot of untapped potential but what this is doing is providing something that there this a need for in the city but doing it in an innovative way that.”
He disputed concerns that noise pollution from customers at the hotel’s 80 cover restaurant and 80 person function suite should be a reason to refuse the plans.
He said: “The slight negative impacts will be overridden by the fact that there will be a benefit to the city and the area.
“Noise is the only material consideration against this and I am reminded of the fact the residential area here is flanked by bars and hotels and different kinds of development. What we’re talking about here is “people noise”. People enjoying their time on a hotel facility in a very dense city location.”
Five of the 11 councillors objected to the proposal.
Greens Cllr Chas Booth said: “While I support a floating hotel in Leith docks in principle, I didn’t support this specific proposal because of the concerns raised by local residents, and the council’s own experts, about the noise impact this would have on neighbours.
“I was also concerned that it wouldn’t support walking and cycling along the proposed Edinburgh Promenade, which runs alongside the docks. But now the proposal has been approved, I hope the developers will take these concerns on board, and will be responsible neighbours to local residents.”
Conditions were added to the application dictating developers ensure full disabled access and the development of a foot and cycle path.
Bosses behind the plans hope the hotel will bring in extra income and help secure the Britannia’s long-term future.
They hope a floating hotel will allow the Royal Yacht to expand its business by providing day-trippers and evening event guests the option of staying on their doorstep.
The MV Fingal will be berthed permanently at the Prince of Wales Dock. Owned by Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprise, the hotel will create 30 permanent jobs. All bedrooms will be named after Stevenson lighthouses, while the interior design has been inspired by Fingal’s maritime history.