St James Square “Alpine Village”

Posted on: November 5, 2021

Our submitted comments on a planned commercial venture that has already been built in St James Square before the permission deadline has event passed

Address: Proposed Festival Event Space At St James Square Edinburgh

Proposal: Use of St James Square as a festive events space, including erection of temporary structures, stage, enclosures and other associated works. Permission sought for four years (2021/22, 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25).

Reference: 21/05177/FUL

Closing date for comments: Fri 05 November 2021

Determination date: Fri 03 December 2021

Result: Pending

Cockburn Response


The Cockburn Association is concerned that this  proposed temporary ‘alpine’ village of 12 party shacks in St James Square, behind the new St James  shopping centre, has already been built in advance of the deadline for planning comments on the related  planning application on the Edinburgh Planning Portal.

In effect, residents and stakeholders in the City of Edinburgh have been denied any meaningful opportunity to comment on this application and to have their comments duly considered with the expectation that, if deemed appropriate,  this application will be approved, rejected or modified to reflect relevant or legitimate comments expressed.

The  fact that this installation has been built before a planning decision has been made can only undermine the legitimacy of the planning process in Edinburgh and this practice must not be allowed to continue going forward.  Such ‘pop-up’ food and drink installations are becoming more prevalent in public and quasi-public spaces and places across the city at all times of the year.  Appropriate and meaningful consideration of their wider impacts to residents and to all those who use and benefit from public spaces must be provided by the City of Edinburgh Council. This  does not appear to be happening at present.

Regarding the specifics of this application. It is the Cockburn’s view that planning permission must only be awarded, if it is awarded, for one year.

A full monitoring scheme must be put in place. And this should certainly include an assessment of its acoustic impacts undertaken under the guidance of a suitably qualified acoustic engineer. Directly related to this, we note that the council is to 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. This suggest that the policy and practice framework relating to the consideration of noise from all aspects of street entertainment is likely to be subject to change and restriction in the near term, certainly before the 2022 Christmas season.