Polish migrant workers given block of flats to call their own
A HOUSING development aimed at migrant workers is set to be created in Edinburgh.
The block of 16 flats will be marketed in Poland with the intention of housing up to 50 workers.
The project, thought to be the first of its kind in Edinburgh, will see the Lothian Homes group rent out the former Queen Margaret University residences at Halmyre Street in Leith.
A spokesman for the firm said it was intended to provide safe, secure accommodation for a group which often fall victim to shoddy landlords.
The Lothian Homes spokesman said: "There is sufficient information to indicate that demand exists for the project.
"The main group to be housed is likely to live in poor quality private rented accommodation. They will be economically active and English speaking."
When QMU relinquished the flats last year Lothian took them on and refurbished them, putting new flooring in and improving the insulation. It will cost tenants between 600 and 700 a month to rent the flats, most of which are three-bedroom.
A Polish marketing agency will help find suitable tenants for the development. Although initially targeted at the Polish community, any migrant worker coming to Scotland is understood to be eligible to apply.
Leith Central Community Council greeted the development as a positive thing for the area.
Secretary Roland Reid said: "It is generally recognised that a high number of migrant workers live in poor quality accommodation and this is a welcome way of improving standards for those who will live there.
"It was previously students who were there before the university relocated and we are looking forward to getting people in and integrated with the community.
"There was some concern within the community council that it shouldn't just be aimed at Polish workers and other ethnic groups should have the opportunity to live there, but otherwise it was broadly welcomed."
There are an estimated 35,000 Poles living in the Lothians, and many of them live and work in the Leith area. Businesses for the Polish community have opened up, and this development is the latest example of the positive contribution they make to the community, a Leith councillor said.
Leith Links Cllr Gordon Munro said: "I think this sounds like an excellent development and I know that in both my ward and across the city there are many migrant workers who are exploited by unscrupulous landlords.
"Even in the council we now have a lot of migrant workers, which shows just how positive an impact they have on the city and they deserve good quality accommodation."
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