THE owners of a £1 million “ransom” strip at the controversial Accies development in Stockbridge have painted a red line to show they mean business in their dispute over access to the land.
The narrow piece of ground runs along Comely Bank Road in front of where a parade of shops is being built as part of the £16m project including a rugby pitch and 2500-seat stand.
There has been a long-running row over the land and a court case is currently under way which should decide whether or not Leafrealm Land Ltd will be able to block access.
“It’s not that we want to block them,” said company director Douglas Lowe. “We want to come to a sensible arrangement with all parties.”
His plan is to use any money he can obtain for the land to fund a new sports hall at the next-door Grange Club.
Mr Lowe and some fellow senior members paid £12,500 to buy the land from the Grange Club in 2017 after it decided not to pursue further legal action.
A year ago he put up a fence along the narrow strip to protect his investment, but it was removed by the council.
Now Mr Lowe has had a red line painted to make sure everyone is aware of his stake.
Mr Lowe said the line marked a wall which was built in 1912 when a 6ft wide piece of land was given up by the then owners, the Grange Trust, to become part of the pavement along Comely Bank Road.
“Residents had been lobbying the trustees about the state of the wall and the hoardings above it for ten years and eventually it was agreed they would give up a strip of land in order to allow them to widen the road if the burgh put up the wall and, importantly, maintained it in all time coming.”
The wall fell into disrepair and was removed by the council a few years ago.
Raeburn Place Foundation, who are behind the Accies project, do not dispute ownership of the “solum” - the ground underneath the now-demolished wall - but they argue the land is part of the road, which means Mr Lowe has no tight to block access.
Mr Lowe says the court case will be crucial. “This decides the future of the development,” he said. “If the case goes against them they will probably appeal, but if ultimately they fail the whole thing can’t proceed.”
A Raeburn Place Foundation spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the court case while it was still going on.
“However, the legal advice we have obtained remains the same: that the strip of land in question is adopted as part of the public road network.
“We are delighted with the way the building is progressing and look forwarding to handing over to our tenants soon.”