Demolition no barrier to late arrival of new fence

Councillor Jason Rust with the new fence at the Oxgangs Crescent building

Councillor Jason Rust with the new fence at the Oxgangs Crescent building

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RESIDENTS close to a derelict building scheduled for demolition have been left “gobsmacked” after council chiefs installed a steel fence around the property.

The city council was asked to replace the fence three years ago after the existing one was removed due to a crash but said there was no cash left in the budget.

The building in Oxgangs Crescent, which was previously surrounded by a fence because of a steep drop from street level, has since been emptied and condemned to make way for new homes.

So local residents were puzzled when city workmen installed the solid 60ft long structure on Thursday.

It is understood that the housing group Dunedin Canmore had asked the council for temporary security fencing at the perimeter until the demolition, but that an apparently permanent one, set into concrete, was installed instead.

Maureen Jarvis, of the Oxgangs Central Residents Association, said the new addition to the area has raised a few eyebrows.

She said: “There used to be a fence on the edge of the 8ft drop but it was knocked over. We did ask about three years ago if it could be replaced, but didn’t hear back about it until Thursday, when it suddenly appeared.

“The shops are all closed, the residents are all gone and it’s due to be flattered. Who would build a new fence on an area that’s going to be demolished? We’re a bit gobsmacked.”

Another local resident, Peggy Wright, said the blunder echoed a recent episode in which a Lothian Buses shelter was built in a quiet crescent estate, where buses no longer stopped.

She said: “Some of the residents up the hill wanted a bus stop for the No 5 for ages, but then Lothian Buses changed the route to miss out this street.

“Then a couple of weeks later a bus shelter appeared where there were no longer buses. It was a lovely shelter but it’s a bit underused, as you might expect.”

The 1960s low-rise block, which had six shops on the ground floor with flats above, stands in the way of the fourth and final stage of a major redevelopment scheme, which is being run by Dunedin Canmore Housing Association and will provide 250 new homes.

The site is part of the same project hit by what is believed to have been a deliberate fire in November 2008, which caused £5 million worth of damage.

Councillor Jason Rust said confused residents had been in touch to complain about the recent arrival. He said: “Residents will feel quite outraged that they asked for this fence and time and time again told there was no budget for it.

“Now the shops are scheduled to be demolished it seems somewhat unbelievable that what appears to be a permanent fence has been erected.”

A spokesman for the council insisted the structure is temporary and will be removed when the building is demolished.