Concerns raised over pop-up beer gardens as lockdown eases

The Cockburn Association is worried about 'poorly managed' outdoor socialising as alfresco bars open up across Edinburgh.

Concerns raised over pop-up beer gardens as lockdown eases iStock

A heritage body has raised concerns about beer gardens being constructed in Edinburgh as lockdown eases.

Conservation group The Cockburn Association has warned against a “Wild West” of alfresco bars popping up in the area.

The group described beer gardens as ” a mixed blessing” as members are worried about “poorly managed” outdoor socialising.

It said residents needed to be taken into consideration while efforts are made to get the hospitality industry back on its feet from Monday and also added bar licences needed to have an end date and be subject to review.

A statement from the Cockburn Association said: “Table licenses and open beer gardens are a bit of a mixed blessing in the city.

“They can add vibrancy and vitality to city centre streets with a real and positive “continental” feel valued by residents and visitors alike.

“However, if poorly located or managed, they can also be areas of considerable strife bringing drinkers and diners into direct conflict with residents and other businesses who are nearby and have their amenity compromised.

“The list of applications to the City of Edinburgh Council for occasional licenses, to sell food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outdoors, grows steadily by the day and are to be found right across the city.

“Local residents and neighbours, who may miss the small posters advertising these applications, have a very short window to send their comments on them.

“The Cockburn is very conscious of the need to support local business recovery as we emerge from Covid lockdown.

“The council has streamlined the application process for using outdoor spaces for tables and chairs and introduced a quicker and clearer four step process.

“This includes the requirement to speak to neighbours, asking if they are content with the proposals, as well requiring conformity to statutory permissions – for example, a tables and chairs permit, an occasional licence to sell alcohol, permission to use the road or planning permission.

“However, sites notices indicate that consent for table licenses has been given “until further notice”.

“Such ill-defined parameters for occasional use cannot be right. It creates uncertainty.

“The Cockburn believes that all occasional licenses or variances granted under the business recovery programme must be time-limited and subject to open review.

“As we introduce more and more drinking into open spaces across the city, a Wild West approach under the cover of Covid recovery will not serve the city well.”

The City of Edinburgh Council has been contacted for comment.