The demolition of Galashiels’ Beech Avenue flats is set to go ahead after Scottish Borders Council agreed to part-fund the purchase of the remaining ones in private ownership.
The bulldozing of the row of flats on the Upper Langlee estate has been in the works for some time, and their owner, Waverley Housing, has been consulting residents about knocking down their homes since December 2017.
The Hawick-based housing association is planning on building 115 homes as part of a £21.6m redevelopment of the site, but six home-owners on the estate have yet to sell up.
Today, October 16, at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee, councillors agreed to provide Waverley Housing with a £300,000 grant to help fund the purchase of the remaining homes, however.
“This large-scale regeneration project is dependent on demolition of a number of unpopular housing blocks which, in turn, is predicated on Waverley Housing acquiring six privately-owned flats in order that it build an estimated 115 new homes through a phased redevelopment approach,” said a report to the meeting written by housing bosses Cathie Fancy and Gerry Begg.
“This is a high-cost project funded via housing association grant and high levels of private-sector borrowing by Waverley Housing.”
Speaking in favour of the development, Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine said: “The development will be pushed over quite a few years. It’s not going to be done in one or two years and forced in. It’s going to be done quite well.
“It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for Langlee. It’s a chance to bring Langlee into this century. A lot of the old, tired buildings were really bad architecture from back in the sixties.
“People are telling us that they really want to keep the name Beech Avenue because it’s a new legacy for the community, and to me that’s what shines out the most.
“It’s sometimes got a bad reputation for no reason at all, and this is an opportunity to put it on the map as one of the highlights of the Borders.”
Residents will be moved into temporary homes during the demolition and redevelopment process, but the specifics of where residents will be housed have yet to be confirmed, although the homes now being built at nearby Melrose Gait are being investigated as an option.
Mr Jardine continued: “People aren’t going to be put up in tents in the middle of a field, if anyone is worried about that. I think everybody will be taken care of.
“That’s why it will be phased in, and the bulldozers won’t just be called in on day one.”
The council’s executive member for business and economic development, Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, added: “It’s a big project. It’s going to produce another 115 warm, affordable, modern homes.
“I’m very confident that the amount of consultation by the housing association has been pretty robust. I’ve spoken to residents when I’ve been there, and we think it’s a really exciting project.
“There’s going to be a lot of disruption. There are several blocks that are going to be demolished, but it’s going to bring more than 100 homes on a fantastic site.”