Save Stockbridge campaigners in bid for £1m '˜ransom' strip

CAMPAIGN group Save Stockbridge has made a 'formal approach' to buy a two-foot-wide strip of land at the centre of an ongoing legal row.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 15th February 2016, 5:47 am
Updated Monday, 14th March 2016, 1:43 pm
The disputed stretch of land at Raeburn Place. Picture: Jon Savage
The disputed stretch of land at Raeburn Place. Picture: Jon Savage

Planning has already been secured for a rugby pitch and 2500-seat stand at Raeburn Place, alongside bars, shops and other facilities.

But last Wednesday, members of the neighbouring Grange Cricket and Sports Club voted overwhelmingly to attempt to assert their rights over a 2ft-wide strip of land between the south end of the Accies’ ground and Comely Bank Road.

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The Accies have made clear that they do not expect the dispute to hold up the development. Builders will not cross the disputed land to gain access to the development site.

But the Grange club have been advised that their rights to the land could interfere with access to the proposed shop fronts on Comely Bank Road, and that as a result the land could be worth as much as £1m.

Save Stockbridge has formally approached the Grange, who own the strip, in a bid to buy it for the community “to protect this frontage from development for all time”.

The group says the Accies’ development would be “massively disruptive” and “detract from local amenity”.

And they revealed they would make a “substantial offer” for the land, but declined to name figures.

The Accies took over their Stockbridge grounds from the Grange and Academical Trust in 1979, but a 6ft-wide strip, including the now-demolished wall running along Comely Bank Road, was never handed over and continues to be owned by the Grange.

While some of it is public road – and so covered by access rights – a legal wrangle has erupted over whether this includes the 2ft-wide slice that once ran under the wall. The Accies believe that it does. If it doesn’t, however, developers will need to buy the strip to secure a key access point to their proposed shops.

By holding the strip to “ransom”, the Grange hopes to secure the best price for the land in the interests of the club, with their legal advice estimating its worth at between £875,000 and £1,330,000.

The club further argues an agreement dating from 1912 gives the council an obligation to maintain the wall, but not to adopt it as part of the road.

But a spokesman for the Raeburn Place Foundation, which is leading the Accies’ development, insisted the wall was part of the road – and so any ownership rights were suspended.

He said: “What really matters is that people know this development will not be halted by any such debate. The new facilities will be built 
approximately 12 metres to the north of this strip of land.

“Access over the strip of land is not required for the development of the new facilities to proceed and it is expected that works will start on site as planned in summer 2016.”

The Grange declined to comment on Save Stockbridge’s offer.