Dundee council flats demolition ‘not most cost effective option’, says former housing convener

Jimmy Black

A former Dundee City Council housing convener is leading calls for the local authority to reconsider its decision to demolish a city tenement as he believes money could be saved by repairing the block instead.

The properties which make up 219-245 Blackness Road, 16 of which are council flats, are set to disappear from the landscape after more than a century. They were originally built in the 1890s during the city’s heyday as a jute giant.

Jimmy Black, a retired SNP councillor in Dundee, said he regretted that stairwells in the tenement, which are distinctive in that they are located outside the main tenement building, had been allowed to deteriorate under his stewardship.

But he argues that the cost of repairing the stairwells, which has been put at between £880,000 and £1.2 million, is preferable and cheaper than spending £4.5m to demolish the tenements down and rebuild on the site.

Under the current plans, existing council tenants would be compensated with a ‘Home Loss payment’ of £1,500 each — while the private landlords and home-owners of the other 10 properties will receive a total of around £80,000 each in buybacks and compensation.

Jimmy Black argues that this plan will cost more and result in fewer council houses than simply rebuilding the stairwells and spending the rest of the cash building much-needed homes on another site.

The ex-housing convener who stood down as an SNP councillor in 2017, explains in a Facebook post: “In hard financial terms, the council can spend £4.5m and end up with around 26 new homes. Or it can spend the same amount of money, build the new homes somewhere else, and finish up with 52 homes.

“The thousands of people on the homeless list might prefer that course of action, but they were not consulted.”

The West End Community Council is also calling for a rethink and says the council should not be paying compensation to private landlords during a time of budget cuts.

The demolition and redevelopment option will cost an estimated £4.5m and is necessary to bring about “good quality, energy efficient affordable homes”, according to the local authority.

A Dundee City Council spokesperson said: “The neighbourhood services committee took the decision to demolish the Blackness Road tenements on Monday October 30 2017.”