Saturday 13 April 2024

Call for urgent progress on replacement West End housing #dundeewestend

As reported in yesterday’s “Evening Telegraph”, we have called on Dundee City Council to make urgent progress on promised replacement housing in Blackness Road, following the demolition of 27 Victorian flats three years ago given the state of their external stairwells.

The original housing at 219-245 Blackness Road was demolished in spring 2021 and at the time the council promised to deliver a £4.5 million project to build 24 modern apartments.

Three years on, despite planning consent, building has yet to commence and we have said the council must urgently make good on its promise to build the replacement housing.

Michael said :

“I have now been a member of the council for almost two years and I have been extremely disappointed with the lack of progress in building the promised replacement Blackness Road flats.

“This appears to be down to the Scottish Government’s cuts to the housing capital budget and I am anxious that the funding gap is filled urgently and the new housing now built as soon as possible.”

The council’s Interim Head of Housing and Construction has advised us :

“We have received a commitment to £215,856 of extra funding as a result of our request (to Scottish Government).

However, as this is £2,029,943 less than we had applied for I am now working with colleagues in City Development to carry out an options appraisal on possible ways forward for this site, with a view to reporting back to the appropriate committee as soon as possible.”

Fraser added, “The decision to demolish the original housing and build modern housing in its place was a difficult and controversial one and it was reluctantly taken because of the significant cost of replacing the external stairwells. Some of the original flats were in good condition but the ground floor bedsits were not.

“We have been chasing up progress on the replacement modern flats for some time and are alarmed at the lack of progress which appears to be down to the SNP Scottish Government cutting housing capital budgets. This needs to be urgently rectified.

“A promise is a promise and the community was given a commitment to 26 new apartments on this site in Blackness Road – these must be delivered ASAP.”

The Scottish Government’s housing capital budget was slashed by some 26% by Depute First Minister and Finance Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison in the government’s latest budget – the Blackness flats project is just one example of the impact on new affordable house building of this decision.

The council’s Interim Head of Housing and Construction further advised us :

“Although I am not able to provide you with a definitive position re this development at this point, please be assured that we are working away on options to deliver these properties. Given the unit costs for this development we are looking at the options for obtaining improved value for money and /or attracting alternative sources of funding.

I will of course update you as soon as I am in a position to inform you of the outcome of our options appraisal.”

Michael concluded, “Fraser and I are adamant that Dundee City Council must make progress on this new build housing project as soon as possible. The site has been sitting empty for three years at a time there are well over 7000 people in the city on the housing waiting list.

“The culprit here is the huge cut to the Scottish Government’s capital budget and it is vitally important that the funding gap for this housing build project in Blackness Road is bridged as a matter of urgency and the new flats built and offered to some of the many people on Dundee’s housing waiting list.”