Saturday, 12 January 2008

Cleansing and Clearances o' of Canongate

24 days to go

The Evening News journalists who now get paid to cut and paste press releases from the Mountgrange spindoctors PPS here, (Director Donald Anderson, ex-leader of the Labour Council) reported earlier on in the week that "homes" were to be saved here but for those that follow the Independent Republic of the Canongate know that is nae true, (indeed we think the proper term is LYING).

What is happen about housing is this:-

18 flats on the Canongate are to be demolished, 9 of them were owned occupied but were bought by the developers are rented out by Rettie and Co. 9 of them were owned by the council as council houses, they have been owned by City of Edinburgh since they were built in the 1930s by the city architect Ebenezzer Macrae as part of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1919 here. However the council have cleared 7 of the houses. leaving them empty i.e. no rent is being taken on them despite Edinburgh housing crisis. The council have not repaired the pavements from the top of New Street down past the Sailor's Ark and Macrae Tenements because it is a "regeneration area" despite the whole of the Royal Mile being down up.

The council's and Mountgrange's proposals are to get everyone out of the flats - they are solid, stone flats with balconies and a big drying green at the back, they are houses that would last another 100 years with a little maintenance unlike the housing built in the 60s and 70s - Westburn, Pennywell, Greendykes, West Granton etc that needed to be demolished. The Macrae tenements are highly sought after council housing. The flats are on the Royal Mile and have the No 35 bus stop right outside.

The flats are to have their back taken away, their insides gutted and there will just be the facade - the facade to the hotel i.e. the 5* hotel will look like 1930s council housing but it will be 5* luxury inside - I know it is crass! There will be no HOMES - only two luxury three bedroom apartments above the arcade part at Captain Jack's Close (next to Frescoes the roll shop) will be built by the developers. Obviously these luxury apartments won't be council houses despite having a council house fa├žade. It is all the rage in London, tower blocks in Greenwich and Hackney being turned into executive's suites.

On the Mountgrange site which was the bus depot is where the hotel will be built, offices, shops and more luxury, executive housing fuelled by underground heating from the geothermal energy that is to be funded by the Department of Trade and Industry. There is to be NO affordable or social housing on the bus depot site!!

The developers have acquired land down on Calton Road which was council land and have got grants from Communities Scotland and are to be built by Places for People here. They are not doing anything that couldn't have been done by the council or any housing association yet they are being allowed to claim that they are building their quota of social/affordable housing - but in reality it is being offset and a bit of a scam. Oh guess what - this housing won't have access to the geothermal underground source heating paid for by your taxes!!!

Developers are meant to build 25% social/affordable housing in big housing developments - but offsetting is common i.e. they get into cahoots with councils to do things that would have been done anyway in order not to follow through. What the Independent Republic of the Canongate are saying - the area down on Calton Road should be social/affordable housing anyway and there should be 25% on the bus depot site. And the Macrae tenements should be preserved as people's homes - no more neighbours having to move away.

The Canongate historically had hundreds and hundreds of families and we would like more families in the area - it's a great place for families to live in but Places for People and the developers refuse to accept that three and four bedroom housing is needed. They tell us "families don't like to live in the city centre" yet the expensive flats and town houses are to be three and four bedroom with their own private parking.

It feels like social cleansing to us - our historical neighbourhood is being gentrified - and the traditional people of the Canongate are being cleared out here.