Gas leak evacuation street ready for demolition

Newbyres Crescent in Gorebridge. Picture: Greg Macvean

Newbyres Crescent in Gorebridge. Picture: Greg Macvean

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DOZENS of families have been evacuated from a street hit by gas leaks ahead of the 64 homes being demolished in the next month.

The problem in Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge, was first discovered in September 2013 when a family was admitted to hospital with suspected 
carbon dioxide poisoning.

Nine months later, Midlothian Council decided to evacuate the street, before demolishing and rebuilding the houses with protective gas membranes.

The last remaining residents left the £6 million development – which has now been fenced off and secured – over the last month.

Council head of housing Kevin Anderson said: “Clearly this has impacted on people’s lives and we understand the upheaval it caused.

“We have cleared the development as public health has been the priority.

“We recognise the effort that has gone on, but also the co-operation that has come from residents. People understand the situation.

“It’s got to that significant stage, albeit there are still things to do. But that significant piece of work has been completed.”

Six people were hospitalised after the problem first emerged, but are all believed to have made a full recovery.

Mr Anderson praised the spirit of the tenants involved and said they had all been given suitable new homes.

He said: “We have been able to match people with accommodation to meet their needs and preferences.

“There are currently three families in temporary accommodation.

“Other people have moved with the option to move to one of the two new sites in Gorebridge – at Stobhill and Newbyres itself.

“We have permanently housed the majority of people, and we have looked at giving them the opportunity to move back as there are people who want to move back into their community.

“The community has come together at Newbyres. There seemed to be that spirit there anyway.

“But whether that’s to a greater degree now, that could be the case.”

Demolition will begin later this month and carry on into November before the houses are rebuilt over the coming year.

One of the former residents of Newbyres Crescent, Katrina Frew, thinks it took too long to move people.

She said: “They did handle it quite well by getting everybody into accommodation.

“But it took them over a year to get people relocated which was far too long.

“If it [the gas] is as bad as they say then everyone should have been evacuated immediately.

“So I did feel that it took a long time but, to be fair, they did house everyone in the end.”