Edinburgh pensioner forced to leave home she shares with grandson and blinddog to make way for student housing
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Anna Collins said she was furious when she received a letter asking her to pack up and leave the cottage which she shares with her beloved Shar Pei Bo and her teenage grandson.
The cottage, located in west of the city, is earmarked for redevelopment under plans lodged for luxury student flats.
The retired carer appealed the notice to quit her rented home after it was served in January and got an extension giving her until the end of this month.
But she said her quest to find a new home is getting nowhere after she applied for more than seventy private rented flats but wasn't accepted for one. The 67-year-old has only managed to get two appointments and both of them were cancelled before the viewing.
She said she is ‘worried sick’ and believes she could end up homeless or in temporary accommodation where she’d be separated from her dog.
Her cottage will be converted to an energy centre under plans lodged with the council to build around 300 student flats on Westfield Road site near Murrayfield stadium.
The major development plans would see a former office block demolished and a mix of student accommodation types including studios as well as landscaped outdoor amenity spaces.
Former councillor Ashley Graczyk described Anna’s situation as ‘upsetting’ and has appealed to developers to give her more time to find another home.
Ms Graczyk wrote to Host Student Housing Management Limited and McKay Limited and Edinburgh-based jmarchitects directly but said she has not received a response.
Now with only two weeks to find another home, Ms Collins has issued a desperate plea for help.
“It’s ridiculous the amount of student flats in the city now when most folk can’t get a look in,” she said. “It’s getting me down. I’ve no family here so nowhere else to go. I’m just worried sick we will end up on the streets. The council offered temporary accommodation but it just wasn’t suitable. I don’t want my grandson feeling unsafe. Then they told me I’d have to put Bo in the kennels. He wouldn’t cope.
"It feels like a waste of time, I can’t compete when people are offering three months’ rent upfront. But I just have to hope someone can help me.”
Ashley Graczyk, founder of Housing Activism, said: "We are reaching a saturation point with purpose-built student accommodation here in Gorgie-Dalry area. Many locals are angry that hundreds of student units are being built and scarcely any affordable homes. Figures show that the new proposed student accommodation at Westfield would more than quadruple the student population to a totally unsustainable 45 per cent in the local area.
“We need genuinely affordable homes for students and the wider community, and the upsetting story of Anna's struggle to find a home proves this. I’m appealing to the developer to have a heart and extend the eviction deadline to give Anna more time to find another home. No work can start unless they get planning permission for their application that has only just been submitted."
Developers and Edinburgh City Council were contacted for comment.