DOZENS of homes are finally being bulldozed two-and-a-half years after residents were evacuated amid a gas scare.
The problem in Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge, was first discovered in September 2013 when a family was admitted to hospital with suspected carbon dioxide poisoning after a leak from mothballed coal mines.
Nine months later, Midlothian Council decided to evacuate the street, before demolishing and rebuilding the houses with protective gas membranes.
Work is now under way to demolish 64 council homes on Newbyres Crescent and nearby Gore Avenue in the Midlothian town.
Six people were hospitalised after the problem first emerged, and Midlothian Council asked the Scottish Government to investigate why the houses weren’t fitted with protective gas membranes when they were built in 2009.
Housebuilder Lovell insisted it followed instructions from the council’s design team when the properties were constructed.
A spokesman for Midlothian Council said: “This is a landmark day in what has been a very long process.
“We’d again like to thank residents involved for their patience and co-operation in what has been an extremely difficult time. The residents’ safety and welfare has always been our top priority. Our aim now is to rebuild new homes on the site with gas safety systems incorporated into the design.”
The cost of the demolition – expected to take around two months – and rebuilding work is estimated to be in the region of £12 million
Before the homes are rebuilt, experts will carry out a full investigation of the site before installing gas defence systems to avoid the risk of a repeat CO2 exposure.
All the families who were forced to flee their homes will be given the opportunity to move into a new-build property.
A council statement read: “The demolition, by Reigart Contracts, is expected to take up to eight weeks. The majority of the waste generated, such as the brick, timber and plastic, will all be recycled.
“Rebuilding the homes will help meet the social housing need in the local area, incorporated into phase two of the council’s social housing programme.
“Prior to redevelopment of the site, further appropriately designed investigation, ground gas monitoring and risk assessment will take place.
“Appropriately designed, installed and verified gas defence systems will be included within the building structures and within the site itself to avoid a risk of CO2 exposure.
“All affected households have been supported by the council to find suitable accommodation.
“In addition, those required to be rehoused are being offered the opportunity to return to a new-build development once completed.”