Housing plan for notorious Wester Hailes gapsite

An artist's impression of the new homes in Wester Hailes. Picture: comp

An artist's impression of the new homes in Wester Hailes. Picture: comp

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A NOTORIOUS gapsite that has lain vacant for more than 20 years is to be transformed into a major housing scheme as part of an £18 million investment package.

Work to build 183 affordable homes on the derelict land at Harvester’s Way, Wester Hailes, will begin within weeks and is scheduled to be completed by next year.

The new six-acre estate will boast one and two-bedroom apartments, duplexes and townhouses.

First-time buyers will be offered a shared equity scheme on some of the homes, reducing the required deposit and mortgage repayments by buying a percentage of their home.

The housebuilding programme is part of a deal between the city council and property development firm Places for People – a union that aims to deliver 1000 new affordable homes across the Capital.

The new development – which boasts energy-efficient measures and a centralised heating system – lies next to a 168-home parcel completed four years ago through the same partnership.

The news comes as a £500,000 makeover project designed to breathe new life into a district of Wester Hailes is nearing completion.

Last July, contractors began revamping streets and landscapes around The Calders including improving pavements, fencing, boundary walls and installing a new children’s area.

Community stalwart John Aitchison, chair of Wester Hailes Community Council, said there was genuine optimism for the future of the area and hailed the new housing project.

He said: “That land is just an eyesore at the moment but building homes there will really give the area a lift. I’ve lived in Wester Hailes for 40 years now and seen the good and the bad.

“But the redevelopment going on here is really putting a spring in peoples’ steps. Everything seems more upbeat at the moment. I’ve never been so happy about the way things are going around here. There are going to be fantastic homes and it will be an asset for the area.”

Housing convenor Councillor Ricky Henderson, who also represents Wester Hailes, said the city was now building three times more affordable homes than five years ago.

The Harvester’s Way stretch is one of 23 brownfield sites where new homes were currently under construction, he added.

“It is fantastic that this derelict site will be transformed in such a positive way,” he said. “The local community have been campaigning for a number of years to have this site developed and I’m pleased that this will contribute towards the ongoing regeneration of Wester Hailes.”

Alister Steele, managing director for Places for People Scotland, said the latest development was an “important milestone” in their promise to build 1000 new affordable homes in Edinburgh.

“Our proposals, which are about to become a reality, will breathe new life into an area which has been derelict since old council properties were demolished some 20 years ago,” he said.

RISING FROM THE DEBRIS

Derelict since 1994 when council-owned tower blocks were razed to the ground, the gapsite at Harvester’s Way has been subject to several planning applications.

The most recent bid, from 2011, was scrapped after the developer was put off building 150 homes amid additional costs worth £1 million. These include contributions towards infrastructure and “public realm” improvements.

The news was said to be a major blow to the city council who were keen to site the estate next to a £12 million Healthy Living Centre.

david.mcann@jpress.co.uk