Interactive football bar licence delayed after locals can't find site

TOCA Social is set to open its first venue in Scotland next year at St James Quarter.

Interactive football bar TOCA Social to get licensing visit from Edinburgh council at St James Quarter

An interactive football experience coming to Edinburgh’s St James Quarter is facing delays in obtaining an alcohol licence, following complaints from the local community that they couldn’t find the proposed site.

TOCA Social, which brands itself the ‘world’s first interactive football and dining experience’, is set to open its first venue in Scotland next year, joining a range of activities available in the shopping complex.

It comes following the success of TOCA at London’s O2, which boasts three bars, selfie booths, arcade machines and a Willy Wonka inspired dessert room alongside the immersive football games.

After gaining planning permission earlier this year, one of the final hurdles for the Edinburgh attraction is securing an alcohol licence.

However, upon reviewing the application on Monday, October 31, councillors agreed they couldn’t make a decision until after they visit the 30,000 sq ft site to assess if it’s suitable for on-sales.

An objection from New Town and Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) complained the application had an “obscure address”.

Addressing the board, Annick Gaillard, licensing convener for the group, said: “I did a site visit and I couldn’t find the unit. So I spoke with security at the St James Quarter, he escorted me through the building.”

Ms Gaillard said despite the help of staff she couldn’t find the site, which is listed as being in ‘Unit 4.02A’.

She continued: “I haven’t found the unit yet, I haven’t found the site notice so I’ve got no clue what the operating hours are meant to be, what sort of operations you’re planning to have or where in St James it is – so I’m not in a position to make a meaningful representation.”

She also argued there were no ‘exceptional grounds’ to grant another licence within an area of alcohol overprovision.

Caroline Loudon, a licensing agent for the applicant, hit back saying a “very clear plan” had been provided to the licensing board.

“We’ve provided site notice photographs to licensing standards, we have given you a video showing where the site is and the site notice still being in place,” she said.

“I think the community council’s issues should have perhaps been raised with us or directly with St James Quarter – not the security team – rather than coming to the board today saying they couldn’t find it.”

Councillors agreed to continue the application and make a decision at the next board meeting on November 28 following a site visit.

Explaining what TOCA Social will look like and offer users once open, Ms Loudin added: “You enter through the large doors you see in the plans and you go into essentially what would be defined as a players tunnel, you come through and access a lift to go up to the field, the TOCA unit itself and you can see from the concept designs that you head to a warm up area where you can see past visitors’ scores and you have a chance to be greeted and change your shoes.

“You progress from there on to the field where you can wait for your group, order food et cetera before taking part in the game experience.

“This is an electronic football experience with different experiences you can take part in, your booking name is allocated to a box, your name comes up on the screen, you head over to that box to play an immersive football game.”

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