Flats plan at former Edinburgh venue where Nirvana twice played is set for refusal

Proposals to knock down a former music venue that twice played host to grunge rockers Nirvana are set to be refused by councillors.

Nirvana played at the studios twice
Nirvana played at the studios twice

Square & Crescent has applied to the Edinburgh City Council to raze the former Studio 24 nightclub on Calton Road to make way for 24 flats, along with commercial office space.

The developers have also lodged a separate application for conservation area consent, which will also be determined by the development management sub-committee tomorrow, but planning officers have recommended that both applications should be refused.

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Studio 24 shut its doors after 22 years in June 2017 following renewed complaints from neighbouring residents over noise levels. Under its former name, the Calton Studios, the venue played host to Nirvana in 1990, supported by Glasgow outfit The Vaselines – and again in November 1991. Fellow grunge rockers Mudhoney also took to the stage in 1990 and Smashing Pumpkins performed at the venue in February 1992.

Studio 24’s owners announced in 2005 that the venue would close following pressure from local residents over noise complaints and antisocial behaviour by late-night revellers. But a campaign backed by 1,500 regulars kept the venue open. The owners spent £40,000 on soundproofing but in 2009, the nightclub had its licence suspended after police were reportedly called more than 40 times in a year.

If approved, the new 16-flats building would be four storeys high at the front and five storeys at the rear.

Planning officers said: “The proposals are for a use that is compatible with the surrounding area. However the level of density that is proposed is excessive. The design, form, scale, positioning and materials proposed are not appropriate and will not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Old Town Conservation Area or the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.

“There will be a negative impact on the setting of the A-listed Canongate Kirk and the proposals will have an adverse impact on the privacy of neighbouring properties.”

The report adds: “The existing building fronting onto Calton Road is one of the last few remaining markers of the industrial past of the area and makes a positive contribution to the character of the area.

“It has not been demonstrated that it would be unviable to retain this building. The proposed design does not draw on any positive features of the site’s industrial past, nor has it sought to incorporate any features from the existing site.”

The developers stated: “The proposals represent a carefully considered response that has been reviewed in context with the Edinburgh World Heritage Site management plan, the Old Town conservation area character appraisal and other material considerations including advice contained within Edinburgh design guidance.