Popular bar and music venue Leith Depot vows to fight 'tooth and nail' against closure plans

The owners of popular bar and music venue Leith Depot have vowed to fight "tooth and nail" against a property developer's plans to shut them down.

Monday, 1st July 2019, 7:19 pm
Leith Depot owners Pete Mason, Paddy Kavanagh and Julie Carty
Leith Depot owners Pete Mason, Paddy Kavanagh and Julie Carty

Drum Property Group (DPG) had submitted proposals to demolish the Leith Walk building which houses the venue and build student flats and a hotel as part of a redevelopment of the area - but Edinburgh City Council rejected the plans.

DPG has since lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division and a decision is yet to be made. However, the owners of Leith Depot, which has been open for nearly four years, have been told by DPG that their lease will end on October 1st.

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Since announcing its plan just over a year ago, DPG has systematically evicted tenants at breakpoints in their leases.

The Evening News reported previously that the two other businesses housed in the same Art Deco building in Stead's Place, Leith Walk Cafe and Punjabi Junction, are faced with closure.

Posting a message on their Facebook page on Monday, the owners of Leith Depot said: "Leith Depot is fighting tooth and nail against Drum Property Group’s attempt to shut us down; that remains, and will always remain the same.

"We have put everything that we have into this place and we are determined to stay open."

A spokesman for Leith Depot told the Evening News they are asking to be able to remain trading until a decision is made by the Scottish Government reporter appointed to handle the appeal.

The spokesman said: "The reporter needs to weigh up the evidence but, in the meantime, why close down a perfectly successful business and force people out and put people out of work?"

It is thought that about 15 people are employed at Leith Depot.

The Facebook post went on to say: "People said we were crazy to take over ‘Edinburgh’s worst pub’, but thanks to your support and your creativity our venue is widely regarded as one of the best grass roots music venues in Scotland.

"Hundreds and hundreds of bands and artists have played our venue and we’ve been delighted to have you all. The platform that we have put the time into to try and build and create is so important to us that we will always fight to save it.

"What we need now, is for our politicians to step up and help us stay open until a final decision is made about the fate of this building."

The spokesman for Leith Depot added: "There is a real shortage of live music spaces in Edinburgh, especially with bands in their early stages and why rob the community of that?"

Campaign group Save Leith Walk fought against the DPG application. In April, the campaigners published alternative proposals for the Leith Walk site – hoping a community bid could be launched if DPG decided to sell on the site.

A DPG spokesman said previously that, since purchasing the site, the company has worked hard to respond to the council's brief to bring new investment and development to a "neglected part of Leith Walk."

In a statement, the spokesman said: "Our high-quality proposal was shaped by extensive consultation with local people, groups and businesses and received high levels of public support, as well as being recommended for approval by the council’s own planning team. As such, we remain wholly committed to transforming the site following the council’s own guidelines and have lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government challenging the council’s subsequent decision not to grant planning approval.

"From the start, Drum has been entirely straightforward, transparent and consistent regarding our plans for the site. The remaining tenants have had over a year's notice to vacate and we have made it categorically clear that there won’t be any contractual extensions to their tenancies, nor will we be reopening any vacant shop units, until we have resolution on our development proposals for the entire site."