AN Edinburgh man who camped up a tree for a week in a bid to stop a £65 million hotel development has lost his latest court case against the project.

Simon Byrom was the subject of considerable media interest when he camped in the tree in the capital’s historic Grassmarket early last year before being evicted on the order of Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Byrom later launched a crowdfunding exercise that raised £27,000 and enabled him to seek a judicial review of the decision by City of Edinburgh Council to grant planning permission for the development by Dreamvale Properties. Last October at the Court of Session, Lady Wise found against Byrom, the founding member of the “SAVE Edinburgh Central Library – Let there be Light and Land” campaign.

In the latest development, three judges of the Inner House of the Court of Session have rejected Byrom’s appeal against the October verdict.

Byrom had challenged the proposed development at Victoria Street and Cowgate – which is within the Old Town Conservation Area – on the grounds that the city council had not had special regard to the impact of the development on the conservation area and the change of Central Library’s listing as a historic building from B to A. He also claimed there had been errors in the assessment of air quality issues.

Issuing judgment on behalf of Lord Menzies, Lady Clark of Calton and herself, the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, stated: “The document purporting to set out the grounds of appeal contains numerous diffuse and unfocused complaints about planning policy and practice in general, the vast majority of which were not raised in the judicial review and cannot be entertained.”

According to Lady Dorrian, these matters included “general complaints about the planning legislation, practice and process, including the relevance of the Principles of Public Life; defects in the procedure in the particular planning process, including the advertisement of the development and consultation upon it; Edinburgh as a Unesco world heritage site; the absence of an environmental impact assessment; the safety of a service road; the loss of light to the library; and an alleged failure by the planning officials to perform their public duty.”

Lady Dorrian wrote: “There seems to be a fundamental misconception about the limits of the court’s juris- diction on a petition for judicial review, and any associated reclaiming motion. Even where the grounds address the decision of the Lord Ordinary (Lady Wise), that same misunderstanding is perpetuated.

“The Lord Ordinary correctly observed that there was material before the committee, from several sources, which had referred to the issue of views in the context of the setting of the library. The fundamental question of what the impact would be was a matter of planning judgment for the committee, based on all the information before it. There was no basis for thinking the committee had failed to have regard to all the material before it. On the issue of listing category, the decision to grant planning in this case was made in the knowledge that there was a proposal to upgrade the listing of the library from category B to category A. The decision took into account the architectural value and setting of the library.

“The Lord Ordinary noted this was not a case of listing a previously unlisted building during the planning process, or even making an unexpected upgrade in listing – it was the implementation of a change which had already been anticipated.”

Lady Dorrian concluded: “We have been unable to identify any alleged error in law on the part of the Lord Ordinary, or any other basis upon which her decision might be impugned.”

The appeal was therefore refused. The National was unable to contact Simon Byrom yesterday.