House venue to be shut down

by Shiv Das

Edinburgh City Council’s planning department have ruled against a man who has set up his own music venue in a house in the capital.

Douglas Robertson submitted an application for certificate of lawfulness to enable a house as a live music venue, which the Council has rejected.

Robertson, a freelance photographer, rented an old grocer shop to use as a photography studio 20 years ago, and used the basement below for musicians to rehearse. Over the past two years Douglas and his wife have hosted countless local and touring musicians playing classical, folk, bluegrass, Americana and jazz. They have raised over £1200 pounds, and hosted over 100 concerts last year. Visitors are asked to pay a £10 donation, which goes straight the performers. He has a strict 11pm curfew rule every gig.

Robertson has paid some of the costs himself. He has spent £5000-£6000 on equipment over the years, and provides free soup and bred for all the musicians before the gigs.

City Council served a town and county planning legislation enforcement notice demanding that Robertson seeks a partial change of use for the house to continue concerts. This requires a public entertainment licence and installing fire and safety regulations.

Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture Convener, said: “Of course, we want to support those, like Douglas, whose enormous passion for live music already contributes greatly to the scene in Edinburgh – and has the potential to contribute a whole lot more – but this cannot be at the expense of the relevant planning legislation.”

Andrew Burns, Council Leader, adds “Planning’s conclusion was that the level of concert activity contravened permitted use for what is a house in a residential area’’.

The Council’s Planning Service contacted Robertson in early November 2012 to ask him to stop the concerts from the end of 2012. This followed a planning enforcement investigation which itself followed a complaint from a nearby resident which obliged the Planning Service to investigate.

“The vast majority of our neighbours either enjoy our concerts as guests or have no problem with them. Only one neighbor has actually complained in the last 10 years” Roberston said.