Door closes on the era of high flats in Sighthill

IT WILL be the end of an era and a day when Edinburgh’s skyline will change forever.

It has been confirmed that the three tower blocks which have dominated Sighthill for the past 45 years will be demolished next month to make way for a new generation of homes.

The 16-storey blocks –Hermiston, Weir and Glenalmond – will come down in a controlled explosion on September 25 as part of the council’s city-wide regeneration plans.

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The redevelopment of the area will see up to 320 new homes built, which will be available for sale and rent, with half of them affordable housing.

It is part of the Capital’s 21st Century Homes project, which will see up to 1300 new homes being built across areas including Gracemount, North Sighthill, Pennywell and Muirhouse.

The final hurdle of completing compulsory purchase orders on the homes of a handful of residents who have still not moved is expected to be agreed by city councillors this week to allow the redevelopment to go ahead.

Residents moved out of the Sighthill tower blocks in phases and have been re-housed elsewhere in the city.

Christine Notman, 54, was one of the last residents to move out of Glenalmond Court in December last year.

Mrs Notman lived with her husband Craig in the block for 18 years and the couple now live in Hutchison Medway.

Mrs Notman, a retired operating department practitioner at the ERI, has fond memories of her time in Glenalmond Court. She said: “They weren’t much to look at from the outside, but they were really nice inside and quite big and they were well maintained.

“It was a big change moving to our four-in-a-block in Hutchison but we’re settled now and we’ve got our own garden.”

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While she will miss her old home when it is demolished, Mrs Notman believes the new homes will be much better for families.

The grandmother-of-six added: “I think it’s a good thing the tower blocks are being taken down, especially for people with kids as they will now have more room. Parents couldn’t really let their kids out to play so this will be better for them.”

Earlier this month, the Evening News revealed how pensioner Helen Kelly insisted she would stay in her Sighthill Green home until she was offered more compensation by the council.

Mrs Kelly argued the council was not offering her enough money as she would not be able to buy a like-for-like property anywhere else.

However, councillors agreed to make a compulsory purchase order on her home and three others in the area, and this decision is set to be ratified at a meeting of the full council tomorrow.

The demolition of the Sighthill tower blocks follows that of the Fala, Soutra and Garvald blocks in Gracemount in October, 2009. They make way for 220 new homes as part of the same regeneration scheme

Edinburgh’s housing leader, Councillor Paul Edie, said: “This demolition heralds a new dawn for the regeneration of west Edinburgh with new council homes set to replace the old multi-storeys.

“We are aiming to build 1300 homes across the Capital, which will result in £150 million worth of investment. Work is already well-advanced in the Gracemount area of the city with the first new council homes for a generation set to be finished by the end of the year.”

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The council is looking at ways of streaming the demolition of the Sighthill flats live on the internet.An exclusion zone will be set up on September 25. A local rest centre will be set up for the residents who have to leave their nearby homes while the demolition is carried out.