Edinburgh Accies and Grange heading for ‘ransom’ strip clash

This strip of land could be worth more than a million pounds. Picture: Julie Bull
This strip of land could be worth more than a million pounds. Picture: Julie Bull
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THE £16 million Edinburgh Accies development faces almost certain delay after members of a nearby sports club voted to assert their legal right to a strip of land just two feet wide.

We revealed yesterday that the Accies’ controversial scheme could be held to ransom for as much as £1m as a result of the legal wrangle, which centres on a thin slice of land between the south end of the Accies’ ground in Stockbridge and Comely Bank Road.

It’s a really messy issue and the club really doesn’t want to be in this position. What they are keen to do is sit down with the Accies and negotiate.

Grange source

Last night, members of the Grange Cricket and Sports Club, which owns the strip, voted to attempt to seek maximum value for the slice by holding it to “ransom” – a move that could effectively force the Accies’ to shell out a substantial sum if their development is to go ahead.

The Accies’ already have permission for a rugby pitch and 2500-seat stand at Raeburn Place, alongside bars, shops and other facilities. But the legal tussle over the strip of land that used to lie under the now-demolished wall along Comely Bank Road – a key access point to the development – threatens to delay the scheme.

The Accies took over the adjacent grounds from the Grange and Academical Trust in 1979, but a 6ft wide slice, including the south perimeter wall, remained under the ownership of the Grange.

While some of it is public road, debate is focused on whether this includes the 2ft wide strip that once ran under the wall. If it doesn’t, then the strip will not be covered by the same access rights as a public road – and developers could be prevented from entering a vital part of their own site unless they buy the land.

At a meeting last night, more than 100 members of the Grange voted overwhelmingly to assert their rights to the land and use it as a so-called “ransom”. Advice given to the club previously estimated the value of the strip at between £875,000 and £1,330,000.

A Grange statement said: “This is a significant issue and so accordingly an EGM of the members was required. The members voted overwhelmingly to protect the club’s interests, instructing the General Committee to take action up to and including litigation if necessary.

“The Grange Club hopes that all parties involved in this sensitive matter can now negotiate and move towards a solution.”

A source stressed Grange’s intention was not to derail the Accies’ development, but rather protect the club’s own interests by selling its land for maximum value. He added: “It’s a really messy issue and the club really doesn’t want to be in this position. What they are keen to do is sit down with the Accies and negotiate.”

Lawyers for the Raeburn Place Foundation Ltd, which is leading the Accies’ development, argue the land is part of the public road – and so Grange’s ownership of it is “irrelevant”.