A controversial Edinburgh hotel development has been granted a licence to serve alcohol outside despite neighbours’ fears revellers would pile in on match days and wreak havoc on the community.
Plans to convert former pension offices at Osborne Terrace, West Coates, were met with a raft of objections – but locals were left “stuck” with the change of use after the council’s decision to turn it down was overturned by the Scottish Government.
Now they say a bid by the hotel, which is not due to open until 2026, to operate a drinks terrace will cause more chaos for residents on days when there are events on at Murrayfield.
Martha Dickson, who has lived in the house directly next door for over 50 years, said people already “jump on the wall” and “defecate and urinate” in gardens when large crowds are heading to the stadium – arguing the outdoor drinking space will only exacerbate existing problems and excessive noise.
She said: “One person or more has done it while I’ve been standing collecting for Marie Curie at the door. He walked around me in my garden and did it. I’m very concerned.
“It was turned down as a beer garden and now it’s ‘drinks on the terrace’, which I feel is just the same thing.”
Once completed, the 157-room hotel will be the first operated by Meininger in the UK, with the 1970s building set to take on a new life.
Speaking on behalf of Meininger at the Licensing Board on Monday (October 30) solicitor David Crank said his client “understands that operating there they need to be mindful of residents”.
He said the impact of the hotel, bar and terrace on residents “would be limited”.
He added: “The bar will primarily appeal to residents, not operating in the manner of a destination pub or entertainment venue. There are no function rooms in the premises, but still we need a licence that is required to provide the suggested offering.”
Jim Forbes from Murrayfield Community Council said to mitigate problems being predicted the terrace should be shut completely on match days.
“We know from experience there are issues that those large crowds present in relation to licensed properties,” he said. “The applicant seems to expect their staff to be able to distinguish between residents and non-residents and their guests, when hundreds of people descend as happens on match day, it just doesn’t work.”
The Board was urged to go a step further and exclude the drinks terrace from the area where alcohol is consumed by Ron Smith from Donaldson Area Amenity Association.
He also stressed to councillors the area was “not the city centre” but “a residential area”. Mr Smith added: “When the hotel was proposed no one in the area wanted it.
“There were numerous objections and Edinburgh Council turned down the planning application. However, unfortunately it was overturned by the Scottish Government reporter, so now we’re stuck with it. We’ve got a hotel in a community that no one wants. So the community are not concerned about the licensing application.
“The hotel will cause disruption and the fear is that with an alcohol licence that disruption will be even greater.
“Some residents near the Murrayfield Hotel are regularly bothered by people urinating in the street etcetera.
“This terrace shares a border with residents and planning officials have already accepted a concern over noise and smoke intrusion.”
Mr Crank said: “My client has listened, made some corrections, offered some voluntary and achievable limitations to assuage the concerns. Concerns will remain from the granted planning permission as to what might happen in bringing these premises back to life.”
Councillor Cathy Fullerton said the objections were only “perceived” however, adding: “Nothing has happened yet and who knows what will happen if anything at all.”
Councillor Margaret Graham said there had been a “lack of respect for residents and their opinions at the start of these processes” and it was important their views were taken on board.
She said: “As one of the ward councillors I’m well aware of the area, the building is adjacent to sheltered housing accommodation along with a lot of single storey buildings.”
Councillor Graham and councillor Chas Booth backed refusing the application but were outvoted.
The licence was granted with an undertaking for the operator to consider making arrangements to alter use of the terrace or arrange stewarding during on major event days at Murrayfield.
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