ONE of Scotland’s largest housing projects has taken a major step forward after a contractor was appointed to spearhead construction of 700 new homes in Muirhouse.
The building work is expected to transform the fortunes of the dilapidated district after almost 595 properties were demolished over the last six years, prompting residents to brand it a “ghost town”.
With the dispersal of the population, many traders have been forced to close and its commercial heart at Muirhouse Shopping Centre is home to a swathe of boarded-up shops.
Economy chiefs are today expected to give the green light to the £42 million development, which will create 356 council homes from 715 new properties under the direction of contractor Urban Union Ltd.
Work on the ambitious project could start next year and is likely to last around nine years.
Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s vice convener of housing, said the investment and building programme would “breathe new life” into the run-down area.
He said: “If you think of the representation of Muirhouse in the film Trainspotting there are people running through the streets and shooting up and things, but that’s just not Muirhouse now and 1000 new homes will bring a complete change.
“It’s a massive regeneration of a site that has been barren for around five years.
“Pennywell has needed this injection of decent housing for many years.”
Cllr Day said the new energy-efficient homes would be cheap to heat and a class above the “damp-stricken” properties levelled by the bulldozers.
“I think these homes are the other side of the world compared to the last, although they still could have been lived in for a good few years to come.
“But they were really difficult to get up to housing quality standards without huge investment.
“The new homes will be efficient with a modern boiler that will decrease your energy costs. Muirhouse has one of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the city.”
Around 36 apprenticeships and 24 new entrant construction positions are expected to be created by the project that will also sustain 500 jobs.
A report by Mark Turley, director of services for communities, said: “Pennywell is the largest housing project in the 21st Century Homes programme and one of the largest housing led regeneration projects in Scotland.”
Hundreds of homes were demolished in 2007 to clear a site for the replacement Craigroyston Community High School, while two years later hundreds more were bulldozed – with no new houses yet built.
As part of the council’s 21st Century Homes programme, a masterplan was completed in consultation with residents.