Some of the Sentinel’s most dramatic storylines are the demolition reports, showing how the landscape was changed as the high rise blocks came down. Westburn, Hailesland, Park And Drive, areas altered so completely it can be hard to match up then and now images. However, other parts of Wester Hailes changed too, and had their own stories to tell. We’re featuring Clovenstone on the Face book page this week as part of the ongoing project we have with the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.
Clovenstone hit the headlines in the Sentinel several times over the years. In 1994, Clovenstone families were told they would no longer be able to use the Social Work Office in Wester Hailes and had to go to Oxgangs instead. Whilst this may have made sense to someone in a central office looking at a map, it would have been a huge problem for Clovenstone residents facing a long bus journey as public transport links between the two areas were limited. You can read more on this story here.
Clovenstone tenants also had to fight against rent increases brought in when some of the housing was modernised in 1994 as reported in the Sentinel. Tenants pointed out that firstly they had not been consulted, and secondly, they were being asked to pay for repairs and replacements such as rewiring, not modernisation. The Clovenstone and Wester Hailes Park Development Group pushed for the demand to be withdrawn and requested that the council provide a definition of modernisation. The council had a rethink and the rent increase was withdrawn. You can read more about this story here.
Meanwhile, other major changes were underway. Clovenstone tenants were being asked to consider voting yes to a tenure transfer to release regeneration funding. The proposed change did not include all of Clovenstone. After a long process of meetings, consultation and discussions, tenants voted to transfer to Wester Hailes Community Housing Association. The development was broken into phases and progress was reported on in the associations’ newsletter in June 1999.
Sentinel October 1997
We’ve been following the progress of the debate over pedestrian access to the new Healthy Living Centre that is currently under construction in Wester Hailes. It became clear to local residents last year that access to the new centre had not been designed as fit for purpose, relying on an existing underpass that was not fully accessible for anyone with a disability or for parents with pushchairs. The story has been featured in the blog as the fight to improve this underpass is not a new one, dating right back to 1996 when it was partially blocked, forcing everyone to use steep stairs to continue using the underpass which was simply not an option suitable for everyone as this story in the Sentinel showed.
Despite community efforts at the time to have the underpass improved, it remained in this state until this year. However, the arrival of the Healthy Living Centre required improved access routes. Although the planners had designed a potential solution, it was within a restricted space and seemed unsatisfactory to local residents who felt it was inadequate to meet the needs of the community. The Community Council pushed for new negotiations with the owners of the Plaza over the use of car parking space. They also asked for a public joint meeting of the two Neighbourhood Partnerships to look at other possible options and to ensure that local councillors and council officers heard the views of the community directly. And they publicised the meeting thoroughly to ensure people knew the meeting was taking place. It was clear from the high attendance and from the views expressed that an alternative access proposal was wanted by the community.
The City Council recognised the strength of local feelings over the issue and relooked at the proposals. At last week’s community council meeting, local representatives heard that the matter was now due to go to a full Edinburgh City Council meeting where the expectation was that a new proposal would be approved in full. This would ensure that the underpass had proper pedestrian access through a straight low gradual slope so that it would be suitable for all abilities and needs. Without the efforts and persistence of the Community Council it seems unlikely that this would have been the end result. It’s great to know that Wester Hailes still has a strong voice and the ability to influence decisions that affect the community.