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Businessman vows to fight riverside ‘garden’ demolition order

Mike Paton and his dog at his the riverside area, which he has been ordered to rip up.
Mike Paton and his dog at his the riverside area, which he has been ordered to rip up.

A prominent Perth businessman has vowed to fight a council order to rip up what he terms “safety measures” on a local riverbank.

Mike Paton bought the stretch of land next to the River Almond for a “considerable sum” after it became a haven for anti-social behaviour, including apparent drug use.

On the advice of the sellers Greenbelt Energy Ltd he fenced the land off and created a waterside haven for locals, who were all given a code to the gate.

The 68-year-old, who lives in Huntingtowerfield, also installed a new stairway to replace the existing crumbling stone steps. A right of way running between the disputed site and Mr Paton’s home has been maintained.

However after submitting a retrospective planning application to Perth and Kinross Council he was shocked to be told to rip it all out again.

Mr Paton, who is a director at bodywork firm Elder and Paton, said he would fight the ruling as far as Scottish Government level if needed.

He said: “People have said ‘you’d think he owns the ground the way he’s carrying on’, but I do own the ground — I bought it.

“The reason I bought it was because there was people going down there on Saturday evenings and on Sunday morning there would be needles, fouling and rubbish – it was disgusting.

“Greenbelt said to fence it, which I did not knowing I would need planning permission. There is a code on the gate but all my neighbours have the code and use it.

Mike installed new steps to the area.

“There was steps there before and I thought I was just putting back in place what was there.

“It’s safe, where it wasn’t before, and I’m not stopping anyone going down there – the gate just means I can shut it on a Saturday night. I’ve never said no to anybody who asked to go down.

“It’s a smashing facility; we’ve held charity barbecues down there. I never called it a garden; the planning department called it a garden.

“I will be appealing the refusal. I’ll fight it all the way (to the Scottish Government) if I have to.”

Mr Paton’s alterations have been supported by several neighbours, including Sheila and Bruce Miller.

Sheila said: “I haven’t been down there since the big flood in 2011 — I couldn’t get down.  We are 100% behind Mike — the complaints are without merit.

“It was pleasant before but it wasn’t safe.”

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