A REVAMPED underpass providing a vital link to a new health centre is set to cost up to £600,000 after the original design was branded unfit for purpose.
Residents complained a proposed link to the £12 million Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre, due to open next year, was not suitable for disabled people or mothers with prams as it was too steep and too narrow and could become a crime hotspot.
Now a full meeting of the city council is set to agree that other options for the underpass between the new centre and the Wester Hailes shopping centre plaza car park will be examined.
However, a report warns the move could mean additional costs of as much as £600,000, which would be financed through borrowing, resulting in an annual cost of £51,000, which would be borne by the council, NHS Lothian and other agencies involved in the centre.
On top of that, another £10,000 a year will have to be found to compensate Anglian Water Group (AWG), who lease the shopping plaza car park, for the loss of 20 parking spaces so the underpass can be built.
But city health leader and Pentlands councillor Ricky Henderson welcomed the move.
He said: “This is a success for the community. This is the council listening to what the community were saying. It is only right that we make sure all suitable designs for the underpass are considered.
“The underpass is not only for the health centre – it links the two sides of Wester Hailes on either side of the railway line.”
The final go-ahead for a revamped underpass depends on agreement with AWG. Previous attempts to create a wider, more inviting entrance to the tunnel failed after AWG said would lease only three parking spaces.
Construction of the Healthy Living Centre is now well under way. It will offer a range of services, including the Wester Hailes Medical Practice and community health services such as podiatry, midwifery, dentistry, paediatrics, mental health, and learning disability care.
Council services such as health and social care, children and families and criminal justice and social work practice teams will be based in the centre, which will also house the Wester Hailes Health Agency, which is a voluntary organisation.