Christmas 2023

Posted on: October 13, 2023

No obvious move to spread Christmas attractions to other residential centres across the city

Address: East and West Princes Street Gardens and The Mound precinct, George and Fredrick Streets, St Andrew Square.

Reference Nos.: 23/04142/FUL, 23/04143/FUL, 23/04144/FUL, 23/04199/FUL

Proposal: Installation of Edinburgh’s Christmas 2023, erection of ice rink including viewing /seating areas, market traders and Christmas stalls etc , proposed installation of a Spiegeltent.

Closing date for comments: Fri 13 Oct 2023

Determination date: Fri 10 Nov 2023

Cockburn Response

Seasonal installations of stalls, fairground rides, an ice rink and associated seasonal attractions and entertainments  in Edinburgh city centre  are very popular  and draw large crowds of residents and visitors each year.  Unfortunately, the nature of these attractions, problems with the timing and quality of the associated planning processes and the concentration of attractions  in a few central venues and in greenspaces have frequently drawn criticism in recent years.  Christmas 2022 was particularly chaotic when the whole event almost did not take place.  This year’s planning applications have been presented in a more timely fashion. But their lack of detail is extremely disappointing as is the lack of any sign that the event have been disaggregated to allow similar, though smaller, Christmas 2023 attractions in other commercial and residential centre across the city.

We have objected to all four Christmas 2023 applications. We have done this because, in our view, there is  simply not enough information provided in these applications to take an informed and meaningful view on a large number of highly relevant considerations.

These include, but are not limited to, access arrangements, equal access provision, crowd management, actual or potential impacts on heritage and natural assets, consideration of use of soft landscaped area, missed opportunities to use nearby or existing hard standing, event creep, increased footprint, impact on permanent retailers, impact of thoroughfares, noise, sustainable transport, waste management, carbon footprint and  carbon mitigation and the cumulative impact of the Christmas 2023 applications: 23/04144/FUL 23/04199/FUL 23/04142/FUL 23/04143/FUL.

These applications are particularly disappointing given the controversies which have surrounded planning applications and the planning process for Christmas  installations  in the centre of Scotland’s capital year on year.

The lack of any apparent move to disseminate Christmas attractions to other residential centres across the city will disappoint the reasonable expectations of many citizens.