Gas-hit street in Gorebridge is evacuated

Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge, pictured just before the last houses were evacuated
Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge, pictured just before the last houses were evacuated

All 64 properties on the Gorebridge street hit by gas leaks have now been evacuated, with demolition due to take place in the next month.

The problem on Newbyres Crescent was first discovered in September 2013 when a family was admitted to 
hospital with suspected carbon dioxide poisoning.

In June 2014 Midlothian Council decided to evacuate the street, before demolishing and re-building the houses with protective gas membranes. In the past month the last residents have left the street, with has now been fenced off and secured.

Midlothian Council’s head of housing Kevin Anderson said: “Clearly this has impacted on people’s lives and we understand the upheaval it caused. We have cleared the development as public health has been the priority.

“We recognise the effort that has gone on. But also the co-operation that has come from residents. People understand the situation.

“It’s got to that significant stage, albeit there is still things to do. But that significant piece of work has been completed.”

Mr Anderson is happy that almost all of the residents of the 64 homes have been permanently re-housed. And he praised the spirit of the tenants involved.

He said: “We have been able to match people with accommodation to meet their needs and preferences.

“There are currently three families in temporary accommodation.

“Other people have moved with the option to move to move to one of the two new sites in Gorebridge. At Stobhill and Newbyres itself.

“We have permanently housed the majority of people. And we have looked at giving them the opportunity to move back there. As there are people who want to move back into their community.

“The community has come together at Newbyres. There seemed to be that spirit there anyway. But whether that’s to a greater degree now, that could be the case.”

So what next for Newbyres Cresecent?

“We will be demolishing in the next month. It will begin late October or November,” said Mr Anderson.

“The last resident moved out three weeks ago and the site has been secured since.

“From knocking them down and then clearing it, will take about six weeks.

“We are talking about a year from now before there will be any properties to let at the earliest. It still has to go through planning.

“It wont be the exact same housing mix. Some people want to go back, some don’t.”

One of the former residents of Newbyres Crescent, Katrina Frew, thinks it took too long to move people.

She said: “They did handle it quite well by getting everybody into accommodation.

“But it took them over a year to get people relocated which was far too long.

“If it is as bad as they say (the gas) then everyone should have been evacuated immediately.

“So I did feel that it took a long time but to be fair they did house everyone in the end.”