Restaurant and arts centre on menu for church

DEVELOPERS have been given the go-ahead to turn a historic city church into a huge restaurant and performing arts centre.

The B-listed Braid Church in Morningside - used in recent years as a community centre - is to be given a new lease of life after being sold by the Church of Scotland last year.

G&L Properties was given consent for the scheme at a planning committee meeting despite concerns about potential noise and the possible impact on parking in the area.

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Work is now expected to get under way on the church, on the corner of Nile Grove and Hermitage Terrace, within months.

It is intended that diners in the restaurant will be able to watch a live performance while they eat.

Bob Tait, an architectural consultant at Format Design, which has worked with G&L on its plans, said: "This is an exciting project all round and could be a great asset.

"I think it will be a new function and add a new dimension to Morningside. This is not a venue we would have in the city centre; it won't be a discotheque, a nightclub or a pub as there's plenty of that in town.

"It will bring performances to the area that maybe people can't get on at the Church Hill Theatre. You will be able to put on smaller performances and it will be open to the community to come forward with art forms that they want to see.

"Any listed building needs tender loving care. When they become vacant they can easily fall into disrepair and can get all kinds of nasty problems, such as dry rot. That can cost a fortune, but this use can give this listed building a future."

G&L plans to bring its own acts to the venue for intimate performances, but also intends to hire out the venue to people who want to book it.

The move attracted 21 objections from local residents and community groups.

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During the planning committee meeting, it was agreed to only allow deliveries from 8am-7pm in order to minimise noise levels.

Mr Tait said that an independent noise survey was carried out and the developer agreed to install extra measures, including double doors at the entrances and exits, and secondary double glazing.

He said that there was nowhere to add a car park unless they developed one in the garden of the former church and said that the firm would be contributing towards transport infrastructure by paying the city council 15,000, which it intends to put towards providing a "real time" BusTracker.

Cllr Jim Lowrie, the city's planning leader, said: "It is a good use for a listed building and it is likely to lie derelict unless it gets this use."