Residents slam plans for first new council houses in 20 years

posted 20 Sep 2009, 13:36 by South Edinburgh Net Admin   [ updated 20 Sep 2009, 13:48 ]
Hundreds of people have signed a petition against plans for the first council housing to be built in Edinburgh in nearly two decades.
Residents in the Gracemount area fear that the city council is planning to build too many homes on the site, which will replace the existing tower blocks Soutra Court, Garvald Court and Fala Court.

They are concerned that the 220 new homes currently proposed will reduce the amount of green space on the site, lead to an increase in crime and lead to capacity problems at local schools.

Despite the petition, signed by just under 300 people, planning officials have recommended that the scheme is given the go-ahead.

Audrey Allan, secretary of the Gracemount Action Residents Association, said: "Gracemount has had lots of open green space built on in the last number of years.

"It also has to be said that an increase in antisocial and criminal behaviour is a worry if more housing is to be built.

"It is still also a great worry as to how both Gracemount Primary and High School will cope, and it could be a bigger issue if Burdiehouse Primary was to close as children would have to go to Gracemount."

Residents had also campaigned for a community centre to be built for elderly people on the site, but the facility is not included on the final plans.

In a joint objection, local Labour councillors Norma Hart and Ian Murray said: "We recognise the need for low-cost, affordable housing in Gracemount. The demolition of the high-rise flats is very welcome and the redevelopment of the area will bring many benefits.

"However, in the last three years, since the flats have been emptied, there has been a significant amount of housing development in the area and this has to be met by the appropriate infrastructure for the people who will occupy the new development and the 'old' Gracemount area."

Despite the concerns, planning officials have recommended that the scheme is given the go-ahead, saying it will have a positive impact on the residential area.

Initial drawings have been produced as part of a masterplan for the site, although architects are currently drawing up final impressions of how the scheme will look, including types of materials to be used.

A city council spokesman said: "The new development at Gracemount will result in a significant reduction in the number of homes on the site compared to the high rise blocks. An extensive public consultation process was carried out which included many local community groups who have all helped shape the masterplan to create a sustainable, well-designed neighbourhood.

"The acute shortage of affordable homes in Edinburgh means we need to find an extra 15,000 affordable homes within the next ten years, and the Gracemount regeneration is a key part of our 21st Century Homes Strategy.

"This redevelopment will provide good quality, affordable homes with a mixture of public and private open space to meet the needs of today's communities."


By MICHAEL BLACKLEY

Source: Edinburgh Evening News
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