Hawick housing boost

A SCHEME to redevelop an unpopular housing complex in Hawick has received Scottish Government backing.

Scottish Borders Housing Association’s Myreslaw Court is currently being turned into nine family flats in a £500,000 facelift.

The work is being paid for through financial support from Holyrood and the sale of SBHA’s 21 derelict flats at Eastfield, also in Hawick, to a private developer.

SBHA chief executive Julia Mulloy said: “It’s been an incredible amount of work to find a solution to what was a very difficult housing problem.

“It means we’re able to offer nine families local housing at affordable rents and that makes a big difference to the local community.

“Eastfield has been empty for quite a long time and our concern was that with the level of investment required for one-bedroom properties there would still have been issues around letting them.

“We found a solution that involved a developer purchasing the flats allowing SBHA to invest the proceeds into producing family housing at Myreslaw Court.”

Myreslaw Court in the southern side of Hawick was opened in 1972 and occupied predominantly by elderly residents.

It was first mooted for closure in September 2010 due to long-standing problems attracting tenants.

But the announcement caused concern for the five remaining households who lived in the 14-unit building at the time, with one elderly widow telling TheSouthern it was difficult to contemplate moving out.

Indeed, Hawick councillor David Paterson, now a member of SBHA’s board of management, at the time called the proposal an “absolute disgrace”.

However, with only four premises left occupied, SBHA went ahead with closing Myreslaw Court in August, with the tenants all rehoused in properties of their choice which met their specific needs.

Speaking to TheSouthern this week, Mr Paterson said: “I am absolutely delighted.

“I was against the elderly residents being moved out of their properties where they were very happy and secure.

“But SBHA explained that Myreslaw Court badly needed work done to it, and it would not be a viable proposition with the number of vacant bedsits which were unlikely to be occupied.

“So SBHA came up with a plan to do away with the bedsits and transform them into family accommodation.

“I’m glad that it will provide much needed accommodation in a very popular area of the town, but I am still sad that the elderly residents had to lose their homes.”

The project to redevelop Myreslaw Court began last month and is part of a 28-week contract with Hawick-based builders James Swinton and Co.

Gerry Begg, housing strategy manager at Scottish Borders Council, said: “It ticks all the boxes because it brings empty homes back into use.

“It’s going to deliver a number of family-sized units within the block and will get rid of a number of redundant bedsits which were perhaps state-of-the-art back in the early 1970s when this development was built, but unfortunately people’s expectations have moved on and this is an unpopular house type.”

SBHA hope the Myreslaw Court development will be completed by May 2013.