Edinburgh tram works on Tram to Newhaven line leave Leith residents fuming after property frontage removed
and live on Freeview channel 276
Residents at a block of flats in Leith are furious that the building’s frontage was removed during works to build the tram extension line to Newhaven, with the promised replacement frontage still not in place despite the line being open for two months.
The tram construction works saw a block of flats at Ocean Drive lose a wall and part of the front steps to make way for overhead wire poles, despite the original plans showing no changes to the property’s frontage. This change and the initial revelation that no work would be carried out to replace what was lost left residents furious. One of them, Robert Drysdale, told the Evening News more about the last three years of tram works at the shore in Leith.
He said: “We had to live with more than three years of disruption while they were building it, so we saw the project from a different perspective and are still living with the consequences. The detailed plans on the Trams to Newhaven website showed our frontage being unaffected, and initially even showed some extra landscaping in front of our low wall, although the landscaping disappeared when the plans were updated. We were then told – after probing – that they would have to take down parts of our wall to install the overhead wire poles.
"Then in March last year they demolished the entire front wall, and dismantled parts of the walls surrounding our front steps, leaving unsightly exposed blockwork. They also threw away the blue metal mini-bollards which were outside. Then came the revelation that, despite what the plans showed, they weren’t going to replace our wall and were just going to tarmac over the frontage, including the patio which had previously existed behind the wall.
"The council claims to have acquired our frontage by Compulsory Purchase – at no cost – back in 2010, but our title deeds and those of our neighbours make no mention of this and show the frontage as being communally owned by the owners of the flats.”
Local residents secured a promise late last year that the wall outside the property would now be rebuilt, but they are still waiting for that work to be carried out, with the council stating that the hold-up is due to an “an industry wide shortage of materials and resources”.
Robert added: “After a lengthy and tiring campaign, the Trams to Newhaven team eventually agreed last December to rebuild the wall and lay coloured stone chippings on the patio, but since then there has just been excuse after excuse – the latest being ‘supply issues’ and ‘problems with the sub-contractor’. Meanwhile we have to live with this semi-derelict frontage, with loose sharp stones lying around and jagged edges to our step walls.
“Apparently SFN – the main tram contractors – are obliged to reinstate the sections of wall around our front steps which they removed, and the missing pieces of our walls are stored at the Trams to Newhaven compound, so we can’t see any reason why that work can’t be done now.
"There will be a separate contractor appointed to rebuild the low front wall and lay the chippings, which is presumably where the council claims to be having problems, but they’ve had since December 2022 to organise this. Instead, all anyone was worried about was getting the trams running ‘on time and on budget’, and nothing has been done to restore our frontage.”
A spokesperson for Edinburgh Trams said: “As the City of Edinburgh Council is responsible for the construction works associated with the Trams to Newhaven project, they are the only ones who can provide a comment on this matter. Edinburgh Trams Limited only deals with the operational side of things.”
Transport Convener Cllr Scott Arthur said: “I’d like to thank those living along the route for their patience during the construction of this much needed convenient and sustainable transport link to the city centre and beyond, including the residents in this building. The project will reinstate steps leading into the building and a low-level wall which were removed during planned works. There is an industry wide shortage of materials and resources which has impacted the timescale of this work being carried out. The project is in the process of finalising a timetable for the work which will be communicated to residents via the property factor when it has been confirmed.”