Demolition battle ends in triumph

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FAMILIES fighting to hold on to their homes in an estate dubbed “Tumbledown Terrace” have won a long-running battle against council plans to demolish the properties.

West Lothian Council planned to buy up the homes in Deans South, Livingston using compulsory purchase orders (CPOs). However, moves to evict the residents have been dashed after the Scottish Government rejected the plans following a public inquiry.

Residents today welcomed the news, claiming a “moral victory”, but the council said an opportunity had been missed to regenerate the area.

West Lothian Council wanted to buy the remaining 51 homes in the estate for a fraction of their market value after already demolishing those which had belonged to council tenants.

Homeowners had fought the council since 2004, refusing to move out due to the level of compensation offered.

More than 180 council tenants who lived on the estate have been re-housed since faults were found in 2004, but those who owned their homes said there was no proof that their homes were defective.

Kirsty Pryde, who lives in one of the homes with her husband and 16-month-year-old daughter, welcomed the decision.

She said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this decision, which vindicates the fact that this was unjustified, unlawful and not in the public interest.

“We’re not talking about holiday homes in the Algarve, these are family homes which people have lived in for years.

“But I still could not go ahead and sell my home on the open market. It’s a victory, but we still can’t move forward.”

Homeowners were offered around £48,000 for their properties in 2007 but most believed they are worth double that.

Mrs Pryde, who paid £60,000 for her home in 2004, claimed she had been offered just £11,000 last year.

Sean Milligan, chairman of the Deans South Homeowners Association, said all the residents wanted was a fair market value or a replacement home.

He said: “This is a win for the wee person. Here is a group of homeowners who stuck together over the last six years, and have beaten a local authority because we knew justice would prevail.

“I would like to see the council come back with an improved offer now. They have been totally unreasonable.”

There were 120 objections to the council’s CPO and a public inquiry was held last year.

The inquiry has now found that the council did not provide enough evidence that the houses were defective.

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “We are disappointed by the decision not to grant compulsory purchase orders. The decision has left the future of Deans South in a state of continuing uncertainty.

“Concerning the defects, the inquiry reporter noted that it is more likely than not that such defects are present to a greater or lesser extent in some or all of the dwellings belonging to the objectors.”

cmarshall@edinburghnews.com