From There… To Here

The social history of Wester Hailes


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Last week’s Community Council meeting saw a presentation by housing developer Places For People and architects Cooper Cromar which outlined ideas and designs for the redevelopment of the vacant land at Harvesters Way. The meeting was well attended by members of the public demonstrating the keen interest there is within the local community about what is happening on this key site in the centre of Wester Hailes.

Various options for the overall design of the scheme – including the layout of roads, location of car parking and potential bus routes – were put forward. Members of the Community Council were heartened to see that Places For People aim to make a vibrant public realm area, located between the Healthy Living Centre and the proposed housing, the lynch pin of their plans. The architect also drew attention to the importance of establishing good pedestrian and cycle routes to inter-connect with adjacent areas.

Although the design process is still at a relatively early stage, Places for People indicated that the anticipated scale of the project will be between 150 and 170 homes and that these will be all or mostly flats. It is likely that social rented housing will comprise around 20% of this total with the remainder being made up of mid-market rent properties, housing for sale and shared ownership. The hope is that one or more small shops will be located within the housing block next to the public realm. The situation of this block will also allow a degree of passive surveillance over the area.

The representatives from Places For People confirmed that a further presentation will be made to the Community Council when more detailed designs have been prepared. As part of this ongoing process, the Community Council will be formally responding to Places For People in the near future with comments and suggestions as to how the outline designs might be developed and improved.

It’s great to see the developer and the Community Council working together closely like this and the input of local peoples’ knowledge and experience can only be good for the project and assist in ensuring its success and long-term sustainability.


Harvesters Way was originally known as Wester Hailes Drive and the land which is to be redeveloped was then occupied by five huge multi-storey blocks (numbers 70, 71, 72 73 and 74) which cast grim shadows over the surrounding area. From the beginning there were dampness problems within many of the flats due to poor design and construction. Very soon after that, the fabric of the buildings began to deteriorate at an alarming rate and all five blocks were demolished in 1994 just over twenty years after being built.

 – two of the blocks in their (non-) heyday

The site has since lain derelict despite various redevelopment proposals – including an ice rink, five-a-side football pitches and a leisure centre – being mooted over the years. 

Wester Hailes Drive looking west –



  1. Interesting to me as I got lost here yesterday trying to track down a business that is supposed to be located here – what do local people think of this area now?