And finally… Eviction ordered on Grassmarket tree protester

Jansons Cowgate hotelA sheriff has ruled a man living in a tree-house, preventing work starting on the building of a £65 million hotel in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, should be evicted from the site.

The BBC has reported that developers Dreamvale Properties Ltd brought the action against Simon Byrom at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Mr Byrom, a local resident, has been living in a tent on a wooden platform 20ft up the sycamore tree.

He has been in the tree for more than a week.

Work on the development had been due to begin on Monday.

The company was granted planning permission by the City Council in November last year.

Appearing for the company, Kirstyn Burke, told Sheriff Kenneth McGowan, Mr Byrom’s actions meant contractors were unable to carry out work and that meant significant financial impact.

She also pointed out the tree overhangs the pavement with potential danger to the public.

She said: “There is no reason why he should be on the property and he has a permanent address.

“The site will be cleared after his departure.”

Mr Byrom claimed Edinburgh city council’s decision to approve the sale of the land and grant planning permission was “a dereliction of democracy”.

Opposition to the development was, he said, supported by ward councillors, the local MP, local MSP, and local community council.

The land taken over by the developers had been public land for “many, many years” and had been set aside for the benefit of the people of Edinburgh and for the future of the City Library, he said.

The library, he added, needed to be renovated and extended. Those opposing the sale of the land, he said, had called for a judicial review at the Court of Session.

Sheriff McGowan pointed out to Mr Byrom that he had no legal right to occupy the land or the tree.

Mr Byrom replied he had a moral right and it had been “a dishonourable sale”.

He complained the Old Town community was in a parlous state, as more and more properties were being turned into accommodation for tourists and students.

He asked the tree be left until the result of the judicial review.

Sheriff McGowan told Mr Byrom the developers had a valid deed.

As for the judicial review, Sheriff McGowan told him he could say nothing about that or its outcome.

The project includes a bar, restaurant, cafe, retail and commercial units.

The 19th Century A-listed India Buildings is a part of the planned redevelopment.

The B-listed Cowgatehead Church and a C-listed building are also part of the plans.

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