Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Empty Homes Scandal

This week Channel 4 launched its series highlighting The Great British Property Scandal where thousands of empty homes across the UK lie deteriorating whilst thousands are homeless.

Here in Edinburgh the ongoing farce of Caltongate continues with  Councillor Tom Buchanan repeating his 'we're close to a deal' mantra. In responding to the scandal of the waste of the empty McRae flats, reported in the Evening News, he said

“It is disappointing that we are not able to make revenue from rental property on the High Street but we have been working with the administrator to make sure a new owner takes over Caltongate and develops the site. There is a developer that is close to going public on a deal.”

The council owned McRae flats clearly need to be put back to use. Perhaps this Channel 4 led campaign will inspire our Scottish Government to push for action on the more sustainable reuse rather than demolition of buildings as debated recently in Parliament (you can watch the debate from Holyrood here)

CEC have a great opportunity to take a lead on recent thinking (instead of continuing to follow failed economic plans) by reusing all the council owned buildings earmarked for demolition in the Caltongate plans (Canongate Venture, the flats, the market building and the arches) and by persuading any potential developer of the gapsite left by Mountgrange to also refurbish the private flats and bring all of them and the Ark building back into use

Recently action has been taken to occupy the former Forest Cafe as a community space however as there are no squatting rights in Scotland it will be interesting to see how quickly they are removed by the administrators!

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