What future for boarded up housing?

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GRAEME Dey, Angus South SNP candidate in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election, is calling on Angus Council to “play fair” with residents of Kirriemuir’s Marywell Gardens.

Mr Dey has, following approaches by local residents, written to the council asking them to explain in detail just what they have planned for the boarded up flats there.

“These blocks have lain derelict for several years now and are an eyesore,” he said.

“The original intention was to demolish them but nothing has happened and now it seems they are to remain boarded up with a view to Angus Council possibly re-furbishing and re-letting them at some time in the future - and that is causing concern locally.

“The council needs to play fair here. The least the residents deserve is to be told exactly what is planned for these flats, so, on their behalf I have contacted chief executive Richard Stiff seeking answers.”

Local SNP Councillor Iain Gaul echoed Mr Dey’s views.

He said: “The original idea was for the flats to be demolished and replaced by cottage type housing.

“The ruling administration, however, shelved that idea and when I met with officers about this recently I was told the flats are to be refurbished and re-let.

“However, the fact only £50,000 has been allocated for this purpose in the 2011-2012 capital plan with a further £190,000 earmarked for 2013 suggests work will not commence until late 2012.

“I also have to question how up to 66 flats could be brought up to an acceptable standard for £240,000.

“But what really matters is that the residents of Marywell Gardens are not only kept informed but consulted over the planned re-letting of the flats and the impact that might have on the area.”

A spokesperson for Angus Council said:

“Angus Council intends to invest around £250,000 to bring these properties back into use, and work is scheduled to start later this financial year.

“The council had originally looked at partnership options with housing associations but these faltered due to a lack of national funding options, so the council has taken the renovations forward alone. The availability of financial resources is managed on a phased and planned basis and with resources committed to other projects, including building new council houses- in Kirriemuir amongst other projects- late 2010/11 and 2011/12 is the earliest time at which resources are available to carry out the works at Marywell Gardens.

“Angus is considered to have amongst the best housing stock in Scotland and the amount of money allocated to bring the properties in Marywell Gardens back into use reflects the fact the flats are already of a good standard , requiring only minimal work to make them suitable for letting.

“Prior to renovation works beginning, the council will continue to maintain the properties on a ‘wind and watertight’ basis.

“When allocating the properties, Angus Council will ensure all allocations comply with current relevant legislation and guidance, in the usual way.

“Restoring these properties to use will benefit those people seeking affordable housing in Kirriemuir and will help the council contribute to meeting the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Housing Quality Standard targets.”