Edinburgh tenants could lose their sheltered flats under housing association plans to demolish complex and sell land
One of Scotland's biggest housing associations has been accused of planning to put elderly residents out of their homes so it can make millions by selling the land.
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The 35 tenants at Sunnyside Court in Edinburgh’s upmarket Grange area were invited to a meeting where Hanover Scotland set out options for the future of the complex, including possible demolition of the entire development and marketing the site.
Barbara Bryan, 74, who has lived in a ground-floor flat on the site for the past eight years, said she would fight the plans. "I'm not going – I ain't leaving. We signed a secure tenancy agreement, which means you have a secure tenancy until you die or decide to leave.
“I think it’s absolutely disgraceful they are causing such stress and anxiety to people who thought they were here for life.
“They have offered £1,500 for removal fees – what an insult."
She said she had invested a lot in getting her flat just as she wanted it. “After signing a secure tenancy agreement I spent thousands, I installed a new kitchen. This is the only place I want to live in sheltered housing in Edinburgh – I have family here, friends here.
“I'm not going anywhere – I've made this my home.”
The options drawn up by a firm of architects called in by Hanover include demolish main block and rebuild, demolish entire development and rebuild or demolish entire development and market as a cleared site.
In a four-page document sent to tenants, Hanover says: "The board will carefully take into consideration the feelings of tenants when they consider the options at their meeting on July 16.”
It adds that the board is “absolutely committed” to finding tenants alternative accommodation and estimates it will take a year for all tenants to be rehoused.
Hanover cites problems with the existing accommodation including steep internal stairs in the main block making it “impossible” to fit stair lifts, and issues with dampness and condensation.
But Ms Bryan, a retired legal academic, is sceptical, saying a therapist had assured another resident a stair lift could be fitted and a condensation problem in her own flat was sorted after a long battle with Hanover.
"We're being treated like pawns,” she said. “They just think they can just ride roughshod over for their own ends.
"They have a very healthy asset and it's a very buoyant property market. The land is worth millions. They want to make a financial killing on this site.”
A spokesman for Hanover Scotland said: “The welfare of our residents is our highest priority. We are actively engaging with our residents at Sunnyside Court to consider options for the future of the development. Accommodation on this housing development includes a number of bedsits and upper-floor properties with steep access routes making it unsuitable for our main client group. We also have concerns regarding ongoing issues with dampness, condensation, mould growth and lack of ventilation. This has led to a high number of long-term empty properties.
“We are carrying out an options appraisal to agree a way forward for the development. We will continue to keep residents informed and fully supported throughout the process.”