Graham Simpson MSP visited a Victorian tenement in Edinburgh, as a member of a Scottish Parliament task force, to learn how a housing association overcame the challenges of carrying out a complex restoration project.
Members of the Scottish Parliamentary Group on Tenement Maintenance visited Dunedin Canmore as part of their work to look at solutions for blocks in shared ownership which are showing signs of disrepair.
They toured the landlord’s Earl Grey Street in the city centre where Dunedin Canmore restored a Victorian tenement as part of its wider strategy to protect the future of its pre-1919 homes. The Earl Grey project, completed last year, was one of the largest and most complex Dunedin Canmore has tackled. It involved work to halt crumbling stonework, as well as work on the outside of the building to repair the original stonework and roof slates. The 24 homes in the block are a mix of tenants and owners as well as five commercial units including shops and cafes.
The working group, including MSP Graham Simpson, learned about the challenges that restoring Victorian buildings can present, including issues with structure due to the age of the stone and getting buy-in from everyone involved. They also visited Caledonian Crescent Tenements where Dunedin Canmore is working with residents to progress plans for investment work.
Mr Simpson said: “It was a very informative visit. It was important that we saw at first hand some of the huge challenges of maintaining and repairing tenements.
“Our group has a huge task to come up with workable solutions that we can present to government. It was great to see a really successful project, which has breathed new life into an important building. We will be developing our thoughts over the coming months on a genuinely cross-party basis.”
Housing and Customer Service Director at Dunedin Canmore, Hazel Young, said: “We were delighted to welcome the task force to Dunedin Canmore. The works at Earl Grey Street are part of a larger project to make our customers’ homes warmer and more comfortable and we hope hearing more about how we approached this might help unlock similar work for others.”
The Scottish Parliamentary Working Group has been set up to help address the condition of Scotland’s buildings and maintaining our built heritage. The most recent Scottish House Condition Survey reported that 68% of all dwellings exhibited some degree of disrepair with challenges around the repair and maintenance of residential buildings under shared ownership.