charities, construction, housing, public sector

Minister tours Edinburgh regeneration site

SCOTTISH Communities Minister Rhona Brankin today (Tuesday, February 27) toured the Oxgangs area of Edinburgh to see how a Government-funded regeneration project was progressing and to meet local residents.

Rundown tower blocks have been flattened and are being replaced with more than 240 new houses and flats in a multi-million pound project at Firrhill Park.

The initiative is a partnership between Dunedin Canmore Housing Association, the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Executive agency Communities Scotland. Work started on site in 2005 and is expected to be fully completed in just over three years time.

Today Ms Brankin saw some of the first new homes to be completed in phase one of the project. This initial stage is creating 60 new flats and 31 new houses, all for affordable rent. Communities Scotland provided more than £5.7 million in grant aid to fund the £9 million cost of the first phase.

Ms Brankin said: “The Executive is committed to providing decent, warm homes for people throughout Scotland.

“The development here in Oxgangs is the result of the excellent partnership of Dunedin Canmore, City of Edinburgh Council and Communities Scotland to deliver quality homes for people who need them.

“We remember the spectacular pictures of the demolition of high rise blocks which were past their best and I am very pleased to see today the high-quality homes that are being built to replace them.”

After attending an official ceremony, Ms Brankin visited members of the Shearer family – who have moved into one of the new homes.

Katherine Shearer said: “We’re delighted – absolutely over the moon. I still can’t believe it’s my own house . . . it’s so nice.”

Mrs Shearer, her husband John and their children Craig (14) and Elizabeth (12) originally lived in one of the old blocks of flats at Oxgangs. “We’re now in a three-bedroomed house and it’s great,” she said. “There’s just so much space. I can’t believe it.”

The family moved into their new home in January. Residents are expected to occupy the rest of phase one by the autumn of this year.

“When the new houses were getting built, the Council re-housed us to Oxgangs Park. But we’re so happy to finally be here,” said Mrs Shearer. “It feels like coming back home. It’s lovely.”

Ewan Fraser, the chief executive of Dunedin Canmore Housing Association, said local people have been crucial to the success of the project.

“A residents’ steering group worked closely with our staff and our architects Patience and Highmore to produce design proposals which met local needs and aspirations. It’s early days, but we’re delighted with the results.

“The new development offers a range of houses and flats of different sizes – catering from regular families to elderly and disabled people. It’s a far cry from the old tower blocks.”

Mr Fraser added that the redevelopment has created a lochan (a small loch/lake) – to address flooding problems in the area. “It also provides a real focal point for the site,” he said.

Work is expected to start on phase two this spring, to be completed by 2009. This will provide a further 85 new homes – along with shops, six community workspaces and a children’s nursery.

Phase three will start on site sometime in 2009 and is expected to be ready by late 2010. This will provide a further 67 new homes on site.

The properties are replacing the old tower blocks which previously dominated the site. The blocks were built in the early 1960s and originally known as the “Comiston Luxury Flats”. The City Council demolished the first block, Capelaw Court in April 2005 -allowing construction work to start on phase one. Allermuir and Caerketton Courts were demolished in November 2006.

Residents decanted by the regeneration work are being given the right to return to the area and move into the new housing association properties.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The development is being created in three phases.

** Phase one is creating 60 flats and 31 houses; to be finally completed later this year.

** Phase two – to start in spring 2007 – will create a further 58 flats and 27 houses, plus two shops, six workspaces and a nursery.

** Phase three – to start in 2009 – will create 44 flats and 23 new homes.

** Dunedin Canmore appointed the following team to develop the site: architects Patience and Highmore; employer’s agent, Summers Inman; structural engineers, Scott Bennett Associates; planning supervisor, Summers Inman; and contractor, Lovell Partnerships Ltd.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Ewan Fraser, Chief Executive,
Dunedin Canmore Housing Association,
T: 0131 624 5600

Adrian Mahoney,
The PR Store (for Dunedin Canmore HA)
T: 01506 823714 or 07967 150560

Bob Major, Communications,
Communities Scotland, T: 0131 479 5170

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