Edinburgh housing crisis: Nearly 800 people apply for one house after council buys Dreghorn Estate MOD properties

The demand for homes in south-west of the city is ‘absolutely incredible’
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The demand for housing in the south-west of the city has been branded ‘absolutely incredible’ after 781 people applied for just one house.

The council were inundated with applications after buying nearly two dozen homes lying empty in the Dreghorn estate in a bid to secure more affordable accommodation for the city’s growing homeless population.

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The go-ahead was given in January 2023 to purchase 23 properties on the Dreghorn Estate after the Ministry of Defence (MOD) deemed them surplus to its requirements. The mix of two, three and four-bedroom houses – which are in extremely high demand from families across the capital – cost £5.7 million.

23 homes were purchased by council from the MOD23 homes were purchased by council from the MOD
23 homes were purchased by council from the MOD

The first four houses had a total of 2,455 applications between them. But one home saw 781 applications - nearly four times the average number of 200 bids for a social home in Edinburgh.

Scott Arthur, councillor for Colinton, Oxgangs and Fairmilehead, said: “It's great that people want to live in my Ward, but 781 people bidding for a single council house should ring alarm bells. That level of demand for these homes is absolutely incredible and it’s a good example of the housing crisis Edinburgh is facing and what that means. If Edinburgh's SNP/Green MSPs vote to cut the housing budget again in February it will only turbocharge the problem, and rob families here of the hope they have for a better future.

"I’m not surprised people want to come and live in this ward. A lot of them live in the ward already, they may be homeless or in temporary accommodation. If you are a mum or a dad in that situation it’s really difficult. When you’re bidding for homes and up against hundreds of people it must be so dispiriting. Edinburgh declared a housing emergency just before Christmas and Glasgow followed suit. The way councils react to this is not political, but based on trying to meet the needs of the people. The Scottish Government has outlined budget proposals for 2024/2025 proposing a 26 per cent cut in the housing budget. That’s only going to make things worse. When our capital city declares housing emergency we can't be cutting housing budgets. This is such an important thing. It’s one of the biggest issues the council has to deal with right now.”

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Figures published last year showed that in the south-west of the city, the average waiting time for a two-bed social rented home was 770 days with priority but nine years without. Furthermore, the city saw a 23 per cent rise in the number of households assessed as homeless last year compared to 2020/21. It is hoped that over time a total of 78 properties at the Dreghorn estate will eventually come under council ownership.


The 23 homes have been acquired using mostly council funds and some grant funding from the Scottish Government. Whilst the move was welcomed by the finance committee last January, some members questioned if the money could be better used to build new council homes instead.

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