US expert praises work by Dunedin Canmore to restore Victorian homes

(from left) Willie Maben, Karen Wright, Alistair Rankine, Jim Stockard and David Stewart
(from left) Willie Maben, Karen Wright, Alistair Rankine, Jim Stockard and David Stewart

A US housing expert saw for himself how Dunedin Canmore is bringing a Victorian building in Edinburgh back to life as part of its drive to make homes warmer and more comfortable.

Jim Stockard, who lectures on affordable housing at Harvard University, is working with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) to prepare a report into current US and Scottish Housing Policy and Practice. He visited Dunedin Canmore, which is part of Wheatley Group, to learn more about the work of housing associations in Scotland.

Mr Stockard, and staff from the SFHA, toured the landlord’s award-winning Westfield development in the west of Edinburgh where over 250 new affordable homes and community business spaces have been delivered.

They also visited Earl Grey Street in the city centre where Dunedin Canmore is carrying out a major project to restore a Victorian tenement, involving 34 homes, as part of a wider strategy. The project will be on site for over 14 months and will cost around £850,000.

The group witnessed first-hand the challenges that restoring Victorian buildings can present, especially issues with structure due to the age of the stone.

Mr Stockard said: “We got a chance to climb the scaffolding at the Earl Grey Street property and look ‘up close’ at the way Dunedin Canmore is saving an important building. The care with which Dunedin Canmore is bringing this property back to life for its residents, the shopkeepers and the people who pass the structure every day is truly stunning.

“Equally remarkable is the dedication of staff to the work of adding affordable homes of high quality to their resources. But perhaps most critical of all that I saw and heard was the passionate commitment of every person I spoke with to resident-focused services.”

David Stewart, policy lead at the SFHA, said: “It was great to get out and see the fantastic work Dunedin Canmore is doing first hand. It’s fascinating to see the challenges presented when repairing older homes for tenants. It was a worthwhile visit for all involved.”

Hazel Young, housing and customer service director at Dunedin Canmore, said: “We were delighted to welcome James Stockard and the SFHA to Dunedin Canmore and show them a snapshot of the Scottish Social Housing world.

“The works at Earl Grey Street are just part of a larger project to make our customers’ homes warmer and more comfortable.”

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