Submitted by Editor on Mon, 20/12/2021 - 11:05

Nuveen’s belated application for a ‘festive events space’ in St James Square has belatedly been approved (21/05177/FUL).

Officials advised that the setting of nearby listed buildings would not be harmed by the construction of alpine drinking shacks and neither would the appearance and character of the conservation area.

They said the proposal complied with the Edinburgh Local Development Plan and found its temporary nature acceptable here.

Officials foresaw no unreasonable loss of neighbouring amenity, despite not having a noise impact assessment (NIA) available at the time.

Three conditions

The 16 objectors will be après-piste off but may derive limited satisfaction from three conditions.

First, that the planning consent extends only from 24 November 2021 to 3 January 2022, with all structures to be removed by 10 January. Nuveen had sought permission for winters 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 as well.

Second, that Nuveen must confirm that an acoustic consultant has been appointed to carry out a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA), with a view to preserving neighbouring amenity.

Third, the stage is not approved and may not be replaced with another structure for use as a stage.

Slippery slope

There again, this is all too little too late.

At present, there seems nothing to prevent Nuveen building alpine villages in future, and once again not applying for planning permission until after the fact.

The NIA is not due until 9 February, by which time the village will have long gone.

Refusing consent for the stage at this stage is farcical. And will be again in years to come.

What is clear is that the current planning system’s provision for retrospective permission provides insufficient protection to the public from temporary commercial applications of this kind.

Edinburgh is at the mercy of festivalisation, not in control of it.