Edinburgh's Christmas: Market to go ahead without planning consent

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East Princes Street GardensImage source, Serena Field
Image caption,
A huge scaffolding structure is being built to house the Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh's Christmas market will go ahead despite not having planning permission, the council has confirmed.

Officials said planning consent would be applied for retrospectively so the market could open on 16 November.

Last week, heritage watchdog, the Cockburn Association, called for the market not to open unless a planning application was approved.

Operator Underbelly said it had been unable to apply for consent until plans were in place on 12 October.

Image source, Underbelly
Image caption,
The most popular attraction at Edinburgh's Christmas is the Christmas market

This year the market has been expanded to cover more of East Princes Street Gardens and a huge lattice of scaffolding is being built for it to sit on.

Planning officials said they had opened an "enforcement file" on Underbelly's construction of the market, however it would still go ahead.

Underbelly was given a two-year contract extension, signed off by the culture convener Donald Wilson and his deputy Amy McNeese-Mechan - without councillors being shown the design of the controversial steel platform structure.

Adam McVey, City of Edinburgh Council's leader said: "Tens of thousands of Edinburgh residents are expected to go along and enjoy the winter festivals each week.

"However we accept there are issues with the configuration this year. That's why we're already starting to think about what this looks like going forward and next year the council will kick off a broader conversation with residents and businesses about how we want our winter celebrations to look in future."

This year's market will see a record 163 different stalls and bars erected across East Princes Street Gardens and The Mound precinct.

Image caption,
Workers have been building a huge lattice of scaffolding this week

City centre Green councillor Claire Miller, said: "East Princes Street Gardens is a beloved green space in the heart of the city.

"I am as shocked and appalled as residents are that Underbelly has built a platform across the entire park without consent and I strongly condemn the approach taken to delivering the Christmas events this year."

An Underbelly spokesman said: "Underbelly agreed with the council that it was not possible to make a planning application until the plans had been agreed with the council as the landlord of Edinburgh's Christmas."

He said the company was compiling its planning application which it would submit at the earliest opportunity.

"The scaffold currently going in allows the Christmas market to continue in the gardens while working round the ongoing changes to the landscape and also ensures we are taking every measure to protect the gardens," he added.

Image source, Underbelly

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