Outcry over plans to knock down homes on Royal Mile
RESIDENTS have slammed plans for a new £180 million development which will see their homes demolished.
Proposals for the new Calton Gate development, unveiled in the Evening News yesterday, will mean more than 20 homes are knocked down to make way for a walkway linking the Canongate with Calton Gate.
Residents of the flats, which are a mixture of council-owned and private properties, found out about the plans when officers from the council's housing department turned up on their doorsteps.
The developer, Mountgrange Capital, has offered to help the council find alternative accommodation for the residents - either in flats built as part of the scheme or elsewhere - but the householders do not want to move.
Pensioner John Scott, who has been a council tenant on the top floor of 227 Canongate since the early 1970s, said he would be distraught to leave his home.
He said: "I'm not very happy about it. I've been here all my life and I don't want to move. I'm 82 and there are more elderly people here renting.
"I spoke to a few on the stair and they don't want it either."
Terence Ford, also of 227 Canongate, has lived in the same flat for almost 30 years. He said: "I like it here and I don't want to leave, but no-one seems to care what we think."
Neither the developers nor the council were today able to say what exactly would happen to the tenants when they had to move out.
A spokeswoman for the city council said: "The plans are at very early stages and we cannot at this stage give details of where the tenants will be rehoused.
"However, they do have a right to return to the area, so it is possible some of them may come back if a housing association acquires some of the new buildings."
A spokesman for Mountgrange said work on the development, starting with the Canongate phase, would begin next year, if the application is given the go-ahead.
Chief executive Manish Chande said: "We are having discussions with the private owners and have already acquired some of those flats.
"With regard to the council tenants, the council is discussing the matter directly with them. If necessary, we will provide alternative accommodation for those people. We are very sensitive to the needs of all those tenants and owners. At no point will the tenants be homeless - I can state that categorically."
Old Town councillor Bill Cunningham said: "The main thing we are concerned with about this development is that we keep both tenants and owners happy. Mountgrange are pulling out all the stops to make sure tenants will get rehoused in the area. They have [said] that some of the new development will be given over to a housing association."
A five-star glass-fronted hotel will also be created on the Royal Mile as part of the scheme, as well as an office block, continental-style courtyard, serviced apartments and 200 new flats.
New hotel announced
THE 180 million development to regenerate the Old Town was first announced in February.
Cafes, restaurants, flats, shops, offices and an arts centre are expected to be part of the new "Caltongate" scheme on the prime 1.4 hectare site, which is bordered by Calton Road, New Street and the Royal Mile.
The main changes include a new walkway between Calton Road and Regent Road as a replacement for Jacob's Ladder. A landmark office block will also be built between Jeffrey Street and Cranston Street and a conference centre is planned for Parliament Way.
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