WORK is finally set to get under way on a controversial £50 million housing development which once drew criticism from ex-church leader Keith O’Brien.
Despite a storm of protest from neighbours, including the disgraced former head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, the city council approved plans to demolish the old C-listed Woodcroft Telephone Exchange on Pitsligo Road in Morningside last year.
In its place, developers Queensberry and Telereal Trillium plan to build 24 luxury three-storey townhouses and 57 two and three-bedroom flats.
With the townhouses expected to sell for between £800,000 and £1.2m and the flats around £400,000, the prestigious development could rake in £50m.
Builders are expected to move in early next year, with the first properties put up for sale towards the end of 2014.
Plans for the site, initially approved in 2006, had drawn the ire of then-Cardinal O’Brien, who at the time lived in nearby Greenhill Gardens. He had complained about the potential impact on road safety.
The proposals were shelved in 2008 as a result of the credit crunch before a new application for the 4.9-acre site was finally resubmitted last year.
Merchiston community council chair Marianna Clyde said locals were keen to see the back of the telephone exchange, but did not approve of the housing development.
She said: “We are glad that this hideous building will be demolished, but we would much rather have had some affordable housing or a public park rather than more £500,000 luxury homes.”
The development is a joint venture between Queensberry, a partnership between Cruden and Buccleuch Property, and BT property portfolio holders Telereal Trillium, which took over the telecommunications giant’s properties in 2004.
Nick Waugh, director of Buccleuch Property, said: “We believe it will quickly become the Capital’s most exciting new residential development with boundary-pushing design, specification and quality.”
Nigel Reid, property development manager at Telereal Trillium, added “We are delighted to be working on this development. This is our first residential joint venture and enables us to add further value to the asset by working with a quality house builder in an improving local market.”