Housing Minister visits Pennywell site

Scottish Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess MSP, joined Edinburgh’s Housing Convener, Councillor Cammy Day, for a tour of the new 719 house Pennywell construction site in the north of Edinburgh.

Pennywell is one of Scotland’s largest housing-led regeneration projects and is set to provide 356 social and mid-market rent homes, along with 363 new properties for private sale. The extensive development, which is being built by developers Urban Union, is a result of a major investment of £42 million by the City of Edinburgh Council and includes £7.9 million grant funding from the Scottish Government.

Housing Convener, Councillor Cammy Day, said:

“Pennywell is a fantastic development and will greatly enhance the area. We are committed to investing in high quality, energy efficient, affordable housing and this is the perfect example of how this can be achieved.”

“The project has already created jobs for local people and I am confident that Pennywell will be an asset, not only to its residents, but as part of the overall regeneration of the north of Edinburgh.”

The construction of the new homes will bring 60 new jobs and apprenticeships to the area, along with 180 work experience placements. Cllr Day and the Minister met with local resident Courtney Rankine during the visit, who gained employment as an administrator on the project.

Local people have also been heavily involved in shaping plans for the public spaces within the development and the overall master plan for the area.

Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess, said:

“Making sure everyone in Scotland has access to good quality housing is a vital part of the Scottish Government’s drive to secure economic growth, strengthen communities and tackle inequalities.”

“Of the 719 houses being built, I am delighted to see that 356 will be affordable homes and that the area will benefit from £7.9 million of Scottish Government funding on top of the significant investment from the City of Edinburgh Council.”

“These new homes will replace poor quality housing and will give the area a new lease of life. In addition to this the project is delivering community benefits by supporting apprenticeships.”

“It is an honour to launch the Pennywell and Muirhouse Regeneration, which is one of the largest housing led regeneration projects in Scotland, and is a fantastic example of how housing can transform a community.”

After a tour of the construction site they then visited Lindsey Wilson, a tenant of a new Council property in nearby West Pilton Crescent. Like the homes under construction in Pennywell, her flat is a modern, energy efficient home and provided the Minister with an insight into how the completed properties on the development will look. Both West Pilton Crescent and Pennywell are part of the Council’s ambitious 21st Century Homes project, which aims to create high quality social housing by developing brownfield sites across the Capital.

Ms Wilson said:

“My new home is amazing! I was given notice to leave my private let and I was staying in temporary accommodation before I got this place. This is luxury compared to my private let – it is so much bigger, cleaner and warmer.”

“I was spending £40 per week on my pre-payment meter in my last house but now I’m only spending £11, which is fantastic.”

“My housing officer has been great and is always there if I have any issues.”

“I have just got a job down in Morrison’s and things are really working out well for me.”

In response to the high demand for affordable homes in Edinburgh, 21st Century Homes will deliver 1,400 new properties for rent and sale throughout the city. The first to be built by the project were in the Gracemount area, where 87 homes were created, along with 12 shared equity properties. Phase two of this development is now underway and coincides with the construction of 94 new Council homes in West Pilton Crescent and Greendykes. Plans to expand the project in other parts of the Capital by a further 400 houses are also currently being considered.

Janice Russell, Director of Urban Union, said:

“Pennywell Living is one of the largest projects of its kind in Scotland, and we are pleased to share its progress with the Housing Minister today.”

“The development is about much more than just bringing high quality new homes to the area. We are working in partnership with the Council to create a sustainable community that people want to live in. We are committed to delivering jobs and training opportunities, public open space and an art works strategy which will provide a range of activities and events for community involvement.”

“By creating a sense of place we hope to attract a vibrant mix of people to the area, encouraging pride in the community and ultimately driving genuine regeneration in Pennywell.”

Edinburgh based planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore provided planning, architecture and master planning services to Urban Union.

Barton Willmore’s Stuart Bishop said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this landmark regeneration project that will deliver hundreds of much needed affordable homes. The fact it took just 10 months from the developer being identified as the preferred partner to work starting on site is testament to what can be achieved when the public and private sectors commit to working in partnership.”