Property developer with a social conscious changes the game in Muirhouse

Urban Union and Robertson Partnership Homes are said to be changing the game with their work developing properties in the working class community of Muirhouse in North Edinburgh.


Their self professed hands on and community first approach has been warmly received by the economically challenged community.

Through creating a development with 700 homes, 350 of which are affordable housing, Neil McKay of Urban has said that they are focused on the existing community as well as attracting new people to the area in what is seen to be sustainable regeneration of the area.

They say that by building high quality homes designed to be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, they can deliver what people are increasingly looking for in a home.Mc McKay said: “All of our developments are embedded in existing communities and if you are investing and building in an area over multiple phases and many years, a healthy, working relationship with local stakeholders is vital.“Most importantly we are providing homes that are badly needed in the area, in addition we have provided a significant number of employment opportunities, work experience, a comprehensive art strategy and financial support to local community groups.”Roy Graham, 59, a resident of Pennywell for over thirty years is a respected member of the community that began working on the project back in 2013.He has been learning as he goes and has evolved from an office space construction worker to one who can also build traditional homes.He said: “They are bringing back to life a community that was once thriving before the shops were knocked down at Pennywell. But with the regeneration work it feels like it is all coming back. Hopefully we will see the return of proper community shops.“Folk that I speak to think it is great development and just what this community needed.”But as well as supporting local members of the community with affordable homes and new employment opportunities, the partnership is also offering vital support to local community groups like North Edinburgh Arts.

Roy Graham hard at work in his own community

Kate Wimpress, director at NE Arts, has said that the partnership has allowed community actors to control their own destiny.She said that NE Arts have had multiple projects supported by Urban Union who would share their expertise as well as funds for things like the community garden that they helped to create.Kate said: “It is imperative that working class communities get a say in the way that their areas are developed and collaborative projects like our community garden go to show how local contribution can have an extremely positive impact on the area.”

The council has worked in partnership with the developers to meet community needs. Councillor Kate Campbell, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, said: “Pennywell is one of Scotland’s largest housing-led regeneration projects – delivering much needed affordable homes alongside investment in the wider community. A blueprint for our approach to council housebuilding across the city.

“This is regeneration which benefits the whole area and has been shaped by the community. It has been incredible to watch people move into their new homes, joining a neighbourhood with a renewed civic heart.”

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