DOZENS of families are set to lose their homes under plans to demolish an entire estate blighted by potentially deadly gas seeping into their houses.
The £6 million Newbyres Crescent development in Gorebridge, Midlothian, opened just eight years ago.
But all 64 council houses could now be demolished amid safety fears over carbon dioxide gas leaking into properties from former coal mines.
Residents were expected to relocate for up to six months as engineers installed a protective membrane to block the dangerous gases.
But it has emerged that Midlothian Council officials now plan to flatten and rebuild the entire estate – a move that would cost £12m – or demolish the properties and put the vacant land on the market.
The five worst-hit properties have already been evacuated.
It is understood the local authority is considering legal action against the developers of Newbyres Crescent to recoup millions of pounds lost on the development.
The gas is said to have penetrated homes due to a 25-year underground build-up of pressure, beginning before the houses were built.
Gorebridge is one of the towns to be connected with Edinburgh with the return of the Waverley Line next year.
The former mining village is seeing a housebuilding boom linked to the new line.
Resident William Power, 67, said he feared there would be insufficient council properties to house the exodus from Newbyres.
He said: “It’s just terrible. The council has nowhere to put us and I think they should have told us [about the plans to demolish] sooner.
“They have known that they had to do this. They should have had a plan in place for us with somewhere to go. They are trying to say they’ve kept us up to date with things, but they’ve just delayed. It’s the council’s fault.”
Neighbour Dawn Mills, 30, said it would be “not possible” to rehouse 64 families elsewhere in Gorebridge.
She said: “When I asked them last week at a meeting if it was an option to have the houses demolished, they couldn’t answer. They have lied to us.”
On Tuesday, residents received a 14-page report indicating two preferred options – both involving demolition.
Labour councillor Jim Muirhead said he had always believed the issue would be resolved by installing gas membranes.
He said: “It was quite a shock to get the final report and see that the only two realistic options both involve the total demolition of the entire site.”
Councillors are set to decide whether to approve demolition plans at a meeting on 17 June.
An incident management team including officials from NHS Lothian and Midlothian Council will then have the final say on what will happen in Newbyres Crescent.
A council spokesman said: “We are exploring a number of options, and this work will accelerate once the detail around the final choice on what work will be happening is clear.”