UK’s first car-free homes project opened

A £9.5 million project – hailed as Britain’s first, purpose-built car-free housing development – was officially opened today (Friday, June 2, 2000) by Scottish Environment Minister Sarah Boyack.

Slateford Green, off Slateford Road in Edinburgh, incorporates 120 eco-friendly flats, aimed at everyone from families to people with special needs.

The architecturally striking development – which includes green-coloured exterior walls and an aluminium roof – incorporates a range of features to minimise the estate’s impact on the environment.

But most crucially, all the residents – with the exception of some disabled tenants – are banned from keeping cars on the site.

A central area, that would have been occupied by tarmac and vehicles, has instead been turned into a striking garden, complete with ponds with reed beds to purify waste water.

Other features include:

  • small conservatory areas incorporated into the flats themselves to trap heat from the sun – and therefore reduce heating costs;
  • “breathing walls”, using insulation made from old newspapers;
  • a natural “passive” ventilation systems to reduce condensation; and
  • a gas-fired community heating system. This allows fuel to be bought in bulk and the savings to be passed on to residents.

The “Good Life” ideal continues with allotments being set up on the edge of the site, which was previously a railway goods yard.

The homes – for rent, sale and shared ownership (allowing people to part buy and part-rent) – were created by the city’s Canmore Housing Association and its private offshoot Malcolm Homes – using more than £4 million in grant aid from the Government’s national housing agency Scottish Homes. Private finance was provided by the Bank of Scotland.

David Priest, the chairman of Canmore, said: “The development is well-served with excellent bus links into the main city centre.

“We’ve also struck up a relationship with the City Car Club, which allows residents affordable access to hire cars just off the site. Often this can be much more affordable than paying for the constant up-keep of a car throughout the year.

“On an architectural level, the development is striking. But perhaps, more importantly, is the way in which these homes try to minimise their impact on the environment – at the same time being warm and comfortable to residents.

“A development like this is a testament to the high quality of properties being built by housing associations like Canmore. At the same time, the properties on the site are affordable – and are aimed at a real mix of residents from young families to people with special needs.

“We have even incorporated a hall into the development for use by any of the residents. In time we hope a real community will form here and enjoy the benefits of living in this ground-breaking, eco-friendly development.”

Ms Boyack, who is also the local MSP, said: “I warmly welcome this pioneering development and I congratulate Canmore for their vision in realising Slateford Green.

“Safe, economic and environmentally friendly housing such as this is truly innovative. This is affordable and high quality accommodation at the heart of Edinburgh.”

Many of the residents echoed the praise.

Deborah Goodall lives in one of the new rented flats with her sons Jonathan (11) and Matthew (4). She said: “It’s absolutely lovely here. I said I would never move to a modern house – but I was just sold on this development when I saw it. I just hope everyone appreciates it as much as I do.”

For Deborah – who doesn’t drive – the “car-free” tag was one of the main attractions. “It’s very safe for children and my dad has called the building ‘an architectural gem’,” she said. “He couldn?t believe how spacious the flat was. It’s just beautiful.”

There was similar praise from neighbour Jayne Carstairs, who lives with husband Raymond and children Kirsty (10) and Ryan (9) in a shared ownership property at Slateford Green.

“We bought a quarter share in the flat and rent the remaining part from the housing association,” she explained. “I couldn’t have afforded to buy outright; the shared ownership scheme allows us to eventually buy the remaining shares in the house if we want to.

“It’s very peaceful here and very safe for children. We have a car, but I’m not even that scared of having to lose it, because I’m only five to ten minutes walk to work from here.”

Fellow resident Juliana Abizie, said: “The car-free zone doesn’t affect me because I don’t drive. I think the development’s great. It’s very safe for children and the rooms are always warm. I’m very happy with my new home.”

The development was designed by Edinburgh architects Hackland and Dore, who won the commission in a competition organised by the housing association, in conjunction with Scottish Homes and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

Judges – including the journalist Ruth Wishart and Scottish Homes board member and architect John Spencely – felt Hackland and Dore?s design newly interpreted the traditional tenement form to provide a fresh approach to living in the city.

Construction work was undertaken by Hart Builders of Macmerry, East Lothian. Work began on site in October 1998 and has just been completed.

Anyone who wants to know more about the development or Canmore Housing Association can call 0131 313 5444

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The development at Slateford Green includes one, two and three bedroomed flats (for sale and rent).
The site has proved popular and only two and three bedroomed properties for outright sale remain on the market. Fixed prices start at £88,000 for a two-bedroomed flat, rising to £99,750 for a three-bedroomed property.

Canmore Housing Association also offers a shared ownership scheme. This allows someone to part-buy and part-rent a home at Slateford Green. For instance, a buyer could purchase a quarter share of a three bedroomed flat (valued at £99,000) for £24,750 and rent the remaining share for £221 a month. In time, a sharing owner can buy the remaining shares from the housing association until they own the property outright. Only three-bedroomed flats for shared ownership remain, and demand is high. For details contact Canmore Housing Association on 0131 313 5444.

A separate release is being issued by Scottish Homes. A copy is available online at http://www.scot-homes.gov.uk

Issued by THEPRSTORE on behalf of Canmore Housing Association
For more information, please contact

Adrian Mahoney, The PR Store
T: 01506 823714
M: 07967 150560
E: canmore@theprstore.co.uk

Alan Brown
Canmore Housing Association
193 Dalry Road, Edinburgh, EH11 2EF
T: 0131 313 5444
F: 0131 313 4482
alan.brown@canmore-housing.org.uk

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