Leith’s Coatfield Lane, Giles St flats marked for demolition

Residents have welcomed news of the demolition plans. Picture: Greg Macvean
Residents have welcomed news of the demolition plans. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A BLOCK of flats plagued by antisocial behaviour issues is set to be demolished under new plans unveiled by the council.

The crumbling complex of properties, taking in 1-9 Coatfield Lane and 13-31 Giles Street in Leith, could be knocked down and replaced with up to 40 new homes as part of a bid to breathe fresh life into the area.

The flats are horrible. The bathrooms are really old. It’s just everything in general.

Shannon Grant

The beleaguered site forms part of a direct thoroughfare connecting the foot of Leith Walk and the upmarket Shore.

Now a favourite haunt of tourists, the Shore boasts one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the country.

Proposals due to go before councillors tomorrow would see a total of 21 flats demolished, alongside 25 council-owned garages and an underground car park, at a cost of £350,000.

Green councillor Chas Booth insisted the move would be “great news for Leith” – providing residents with more affordable housing and opening the way for further redevelopment. He said: “The houses that are being demolished are not in a good state of repair, and it would be very difficult and very expensive to get them into a good state of repair.

“Leith is generally a safe place for people to go. Obviously, the redevelopment of that area will bring opportunities to have additional walking routes through there, or Leith historic trails, and we should be looking at that.”

In recent years the Coatfield Lane and Giles Street block has become a hotspot for antisocial behaviour – with the underground car park now securely closed off due to problems with drug abuse.

In November, a 40-year-old man was left with “significant injuries” following a sustained attack in the area.

A report compiled by council officials said these problems – alongside the poor condition and layout of the flats – had made the properties difficult to let out, with only four of the 16 council-owned units currently occupied.

One of the last remaining tenants on the Giles Street section is Shannon Grant, who lives in a one-bedroom flat with her boyfriend James Wilson.

The 20-year-old said the couple planned to move into a new apartment in a matter of months – and wouldn’t be sorry to leave.

She said: “[The flats] are horrible. The bathrooms are really old. It’s just everything in general. The shower is disintegrating and the tiles in the wall are coming away.”

One nearby resident described how the block had been affected by a raft of antisocial behaviour issues in the last few years, adding: “I cannot wait to see the back of it.”

Five apartments on the site are privately owned and will need to be bought out by the council if demolition goes ahead.

While valuations have yet to be carried out, in December 2010 one flat on Coatfield Lane was snapped up for just £11,000 at auction.

City housing leader Councillor Cammy Day said: “New development at Coatfield Lane is great news for Leith, enabling the construction of sustainable, affordable homes while improving the surrounding area to create a safer and more pleasant environment for the community.

“We will continue to work closely with local residents to develop the proposals for new housing.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com