Application for change of use in Grassmarket

Posted on: December 15, 2021

Our objection to a proposal to introduce a new leisure and bar operation in the Grassmarket which we believe will negatively impact the amenity of local residents

Address: 1 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2HY

Proposal:  Change of use from Class 1 (Retail) and Class 3 (Food and Drink) to a mixed use Class 11 (Leisure) and Class 3 (Food and Drink) and associated flue.

Reference No: 21/06295/FUL

Closing date for comments: 30/11/2021

Determination date: 31/12/2021

Result: Pending

Cockburn Response

The Association has been approached by a number of members and stakeholders about this development.  We note that a similar scheme in 2019 had been withdrawn.

The Grassmarket is an area of the city that has been subject to intense pressures from the tourism/hospitality sector for some.  It is essential, therefore, that any proposed Change of Use and development scheme be considered in the context of the cumulative impact on local residents.

These pressures have been so significant that the viability of the Grassmarket as a residential community could be seen to be under threat.

The property has a long history of retail of use.  We appreciate the challenges in marketing such premises during a global pandemic and note that it has been available since February 2019.  Nevertheless, we believe that a change from Class 1 to Classes 3 & 11 as proposed on the grounds that would affect the amenity and to an extent the viability of the Grassmarket as a mixed community.  In addition, it would create additional late evening footfall, adding to existing noise and intrusion in the area.  In this, we note that at recent meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council councillors agreed that the Council would write to the Scottish Government to ask for powers to deal with problems associated amplified busking and street entertainment across the city and to facilitate the engagement of residents who are concerned about related noise disturbances

Policy Hou 7 Inappropriate Uses in Residential Areas – states that developments, including changes of use, which would have a materially detrimental effect on the living conditions of nearby residents, will not be permitted. It notes that the intention of the policy is firstly, to preclude the introduction or intensification of non-residential uses incompatible with predominantly residential areas and secondly, to prevent any further deterioration in living conditions in more mixed-use areas which nevertheless have important residential functions.  We believe that this proposal is inconsistent with this policy.

The proposed City Plan 2030 proposes new policies aimed at protecting residential amenity.  These reinforce HOU7 and might be considered a material consideration.

As such, we feel that the proposals are inconsistent with Policy Des 5 Development Design – Amenity in that it fails to meet the first criteria namely “the amenity of neighbouring developments is not adversely affected and that future occupiers have acceptable levels of amenity in relation to noise, daylight, sunlight, privacy or immediate outlook.”

In summary, whilst we appreciate the challenges in marketing retail premises during a pandemic, the intensification hospitality and leisure developments in the Grassmarket will have a negative impact on residents and would result in further deterioration of living conditions.

The Cockburn, therefore, OBJECTS to this application.