A planning application for the erection of a ‘Festival Village’ above Waverley Mall will go before the Development Management Subcommittee tomorrow.
This is an amended version of the proposal we last reported here and here. What has changed is the removal from the scheme of one highly visible live music area and two bars at the southern edge of the site.
The plan still comprises: 'public house/bar areas, beer garden, live stage area, hot food kiosks, associated seating area, toilets (inc. disabled) and associated structures/works (as amended)'. You can read chapter and verse in the pdf at the foot of this page.
Many non-Planning specialists who live in the capital will find it astonishing, utterly jaw-dropping, that a City of Edinburgh Council official has recommended approval of the development on the following grounds:
The proposal represents an appropriate temporary development which will preserve both the character and appearance of the New Town Conservation Areas and the outstanding universal value of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. The proposal represents an appropriate commercial scheme which will contribute to the character, attractiveness, vitality and accessibility of the city centre, will not result in a permanent unacceptable loss of open space; and which will not have a detrimental impact on the amenity of neighbouring residents, the setting of nearby listed buildings or the Local Nature Conservation Site. The proposal complies with policies Del 2, Env 1, Env 3, Env 6, Hou 7, Env 15 and Env 18 of the adopted Edinburgh Local Development Plan (LDP) and the Edinburgh Design Guidance.
Many other non-specialist residents will be every bit as dismayed but perhaps not as surprised. They have become all too familiar with the yawning disconnect between local people’s aspirations for their home city and what is possible within Planning law for ambitious commercial interests.
There are also some reasonable people (well, we've met one) who find elements of the proposal acceptable and even welcome. They say that – minus the noise, and the worst of the visual clutter, and with a review after one rather than three years – the plan might be OK. We don't agree. We still think it's an ughsome guddle from start to finish.
Chalk and cheese
Here is what part of a World Heritage Site looks like.
Here is an unattractive pile of shacks.
We know which we'd prefer for the centre of Scotland's capital city.
Thankfully, current DMS members have recently shown themselves on more than one occasion to be a serious, independent-minded and decisive bunch.
We very much hope they will not be distracted by the supposedly temporary nature of the proposed Waverley Mall intrusion and will instead refuse the whole sorry clamjamfry at the earliest opportunity.