Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA) has revealed its plans for the empty space left by the demolition two years ago of the 24 flats at Rose Court in Langlee.
As part of its “modest development program”, the association hopes to build 10 three-bedroom family homes, with associated car parking, solar panels on the roof and front and back gardens, on the land where the former student accomodation stood.
Henry Coyle, SBHA’s director of assets and property services, presented the plans to members of Galashiels Community Council last Wednesday.
He explained that while SBHA normally refurbishes its properties, there are times when demolition and building anew is the only real option.
He said: “Rose Court was previously leased and utilised by Heriot-Watt University for student accomodation. The lease expired as Heriot-Watt had completed a new build for this purpose.
“The 24 maisonettes were unpopular and difficult to let.
“SBHA commissioned a team to carry out a wide-ranging options appraisal that considered refurbishment and adapatation, as well as demolition and new build.
“The study concluded that demolition and new build was viable and refurbishment was not.”
Mr Coyle added: “There is more than enough demand in Galashiels for quality social housing, and that is what we have proposed here ... 10 family homes which should be available by spring 2018, if we can get onsite by the summer.”
Community councillor Drew Tulley raised concerns about cutting costs by using cheap fixtures and fittings, which he called “false economy” and asked if there were enough car parking spaces planned.
Mr Coyle replied by saying only quality fixtures and fittings would be used, and “the planning department at Scottish Borders Council won’t let us get away with putting in too few parking spaces.”
Galashiels Community Council chairwoman Judith Cleghorn said: “I think it is a fantastic project.”
And Johnny Gray added: “I would like to congratulate the association for planning something that is liveable – far better than what was there previously. I think the planning department should clap it though.”
Mr Coyle also talked about the association’s recent new-builds – Jessamine Cottages in Earlston, Stonefield and Deanfield in Hawick, and Torwoodlee Road in Galashiels.
He said: “The residents are very happy in their new-build homes. The previous buildings were hard to heat and hard to treat.
“The energy rating for the new-build homes is a high B, which means they are cheaper to heat.”