A builder who dumped dozens of pieces of granite from Union Terrace Gardens in a former client’s driveway has said it has “nothing to do” with the fact the landowner is suing him for £1 million.
Pub boss Mike Wilson has taken Graeme Cheyne Builders to court over claims toxic waste material was stashed under his terraced garden in Craigton Road, Cults.
Now, it has emerged the sub-contractor – working for project leaders Balfour Beatty on the £28m revamp of UTG – chose the patch of land at the heart of the legal dispute as a safe hideaway for masonry removed from the city centre park.
Planners ruled all granite affected by the council’s proposals for a “grand staircase” into the park from Rosemount Viaduct, three new pavilions, events space, refurbishments to the Victorian toilets near Union Street and reinforcement of the arches under Union Terrace had to be reused.
But over the last week, it emerged the council did not know the whereabouts of all the heritage rock, so eponymous with Aberdeen.
After being confronted with images of the stack of stone and one of the very recognisable globe streetlights from the park, the council ordered an investigation and revealed they thought such a lapse could prove a breach of contract.
Town House bosses have now ordered a full audit of all UTG granite and have reported the matter – being referred to as “granite-gate” by our readers – to the police.
That the wayward granite should have been stowed only feet from the site at the very centre of a million-pound court battle might prove perplexing to some.
However, Graeme Cheyne – who built Mr Wilson’s home – told us: “The court case has nothing to do with this.
“It’s a personal matter.”
Yesterday he said he had not asked Mr Wilson if he could store the granite on his land having found he had run out of space at his Torry yard.
“At 4.30pm on a Friday, things are closing in on you and you are in a race against time,” he added.
“I thought I would get it off the lorry, put it there and deal with the consequences later.”
Owner of land where UTG granite was stashed suing builder who left it there
The Mail On Sunday reported on the ongoing legal proceedings last November, reporting Mr Wilson, the owner of a number of Aberdeen businesses trading as Epic Group, was pursuing damages of £1m through the Court Of Session.
In court papers, Mr Wilson claimed the cost of removing the waste and bringing in professionals to re-seed the grass would amount to £937,572, plus interest.
The newspaper estimated around 4,000 tonnes of waste – including batteries, insulation, roofing felt and harmful chemicals – had been buried in the grounds of the £2m, six-bedroomed house.
Earlier this month, the court set a deadline for solicitors to submit documents before a final ruling is made.
A spokesman for Mr Cheyne told The Mail On Sunday the claims would be “vigorously defended”.
After Aberdeen Journals revealed the whereabouts of the granite yesterday, Mr Wilson said on Twitter: “I am surprised that you have such focus on 50 steps when there are thousands of them.
“For something to be found, it has to firstly be missing.
“Balfour Beatty say they are aware of location of all granite.”
Main UTG contractor apologises after days of silence
Balfour Beatty, the main contractor on the £28m gardens refurbishment project has this evening broken a days-long silence on the revelations.
Aberdeen Journals asked if the construction firm what steps had been taken to secure UTG granite, how much had been removed from the city centre site and whether it could all be accounted for.
Furthermore, we pressed them on whether they had known Graeme Cheyne Builders had parked some of the historic masonry at Mr Wilson’s home.
This evening, a Balfour Beatty spokeswoman told us: “We are currently in discussions with one of our sub-contractors to understand the reason for the materials being stored at an unapproved location.
“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience or concern caused and can confirm that the granite will be relocated to a secure and appropriate site as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, we continue to assist Police Scotland and Aberdeen City Council with their investigations.”