JD Wetherspoon plc (LON: JDW) is set to spend around £1 – 2.5 million refurbishing the former Empire Bingo in Edinburgh.
The proposed 400 seat Wetherspoon pub will cover over 4000 square feet and will create anywhere between 50 and 100 new jobs.
The permit approval was announced in Monday's Edinburgh Council Licensing Board Meeting. Permission to turn the former popular bingo hall into a pub was finally won by JD Wetherspoon plc on the third attempt last year. The pub chain, which was founded by Tim Martin in 1979, successfully applied for the license having varied the building's existing bingo license. This followed police advice to councillors to turn down the application, pointing to the building being located within an area of over-provision of alcohol.
The giant pub situated on the popular Nicolson Street, is just minutes away from the George Square campus of the University of Edinburgh. It will be the seventh pub owned by JD wetherspoon located in central Edinburgh. It's opening has not been without its critics.
Sergeant John Young from Police Scotland, voiced his concerns over the new ‘super-pub' and said:
Police Scotland have concerns of the impact this would have on the local community. The capacity of the premises would cause undue nuisance at the terminal hour with people leaving.
He added that granting permission would be:
inconsistent with protecting and improving public health
The police were not, however, the only ones to voice concerns over the new ‘Spoons'. Echoing the police concerns. Cllr Joanna Mowat told JD Wetherspoon that she would not support the application if it was just altering the existing bingo license which is yet to expire. Pointing towards the large number of objections to the pub proposal, Cllr Joanna Mowat said:
I have huge concerns about introducing this type of operation in this area. It’s a very delicate site.I would not be supporting a new licence in this area but it’s varying an existing licence
Amendments were made to the existing license and the Councillors unanimously approved the varied licence application. Alcohol selling would commence at 11am instead of 9am and the capacity reduced from 430 to 400.
A date is yet to be confirmed for the pub's opening.