The Otago Lane community’s battle with developer Hugh Scott and the council was perhaps the most well known planning dispute in recent urban planning history. Thanks to the help from the community’s friends and our furry otter neighbours that were discovered last minute inhabiting the river bank, the developer will find it difficult and very costly to build. However all had not ended in Summer 2013 when the restrictive conditions for permission were finally issued. Mr. Scott continued to frequent the lane harassing customers and residents alike. As he had lost potentially millions of £ he was particularly furious with Tchai-Ovna. We had managed to harness and focus community support which forced the council to listen. This bad relationship culminated in the developer bringing the Tchai-Ovna to court over the use of the outside area, the veranda. Despite the veranda being in existence long before our tenure at the premises we were bizarrely banned from accessing our own premises. This loss of the veranda and indeed £1000’s in legal expenses (thanks to those who helped us through the crowd fund) threatened to close us. Luckily the Otago Lane community knew of a secret passage which we were able to re-open and refurbish, which then became our new entrance.
Soon, however, we realised there was another trick up Mr. Scott’s sleeve. He made an offer to our landlady to purchase the tea house premises for double the valuation, an offer that she could not refuse. We realised that we had to either purchase the premises for even higher than Scott’s offer, or close down. Having him as our landlord was not an option and we had no time or money left to relocate. We borrowed and scraped and managed to out bid him in the nick of time. So now, albeit something we didn’t want, we are the owners of the Tchai-Ovna premises.
For the rest of last summer we continued to put seating in the car park until Scott threatened legal action again. This would have been the last straw so now we have no outside area at all that customers can use, though the veranda is still there and probably won’t be used or taken down as a painful reminder of recent events, yet also of happy times.
Now the summer is promising to be glorious. Glasgow has been really lucky with the weather! But with no outside area it is proving very challenging for the Tchai-Ovna. We are now doing take away options, ice tea and some lovely unique teas we haven’t had before; adaptations that we think might make us compatible with people rightfully enjoying the sunshine. Please if you have time and/or want some shade in a cool cavernous old stables come and help us through this summer. We are sure things will get better with your help, and soon we will be on the sunny side of the street again.
All the best