'Ghost town' estate reaches end of an era as demolition work begins

The Deans South estate was condemned almost 20 years ago but work to make way for new housing is only just beginning.

Demolition work has begun on the final remaining homes at a housing estate in West Lothian which was condemned almost 20 years ago.

Council tenants were moved out of Deans South in Livingston shortly after structural problems came to light.

But those who had bought their homes from the local authority faced years of living in an increasingly dilapidated area, with the amount of compensation offered falling short of expectations.

One of them, Kerry-Louise MacIntosh, saw the process of her home being torn down begin on Monday.

Kerry-Louise MacIntosh said the demolition had been 'an emotional rollercoaster'.

“It’s an emotional rollercoaster,” she said.

“I’m really excited at the fact we’re moving on so we can get our new house. It is sad because we’re saying goodbye to our home, so it’s a bit of mixed feelings at the moment.”

A large part of the site has been taken over by developers Springfield who have struck deals with most of the remaining homeowners, allowing them to have a like-for-like house which will be completed next year.

Phil Cavan lives in Deans South and while he’s happy with the saga coming to an end, he’s frustrated at losing almost two decades of his life to it.

“Had things been normal I don’t even know if I would have stayed in Deans South all that time, because the progression is you have a family, you move on, you go to different areas, get a bigger house, a nicer house.

“But we’ve been forced into maintaining a property for nineteen years that’s of no value, not because of any decision I made.”

Kerry and Phil are expected to move into their new homes by the end of next year – in all more than 130 houses will be built on the site by Springfield Homes.

Phil Cavan is among the residents to move out while his former home is demolished.

Demolition crews did strike one hitch though, with an unexpected discovery of asbestos is likely to hold up the process by a couple of weeks.

A spokesperson for West Lothian Council said: “The regeneration of Deans South to create a positive future for the estate has always been a key priority.

“Much of Deans South has already been redeveloped, and plans are well underway to complete this work. West Lothian Council is in the process of building 29 new homes on land in the south east of Deans South.

“In terms of regeneration elsewhere in the area, we are aware of the Springfield Properties offer to the remaining homeowners.  We wish both parties well and hope that they can reach a successful conclusion.”

The local MP, Hannah Bardell, told STV News she’s pleased at the latest progress, but feels residents have been let down for a long time.

“Lots of us have worked together across party boundaries to make this happen but particularly with the residents.

“But there is no doubt in my mind that they have been let down by generations of councils and governments.

“And I think we do genuinely need to reflect on how we got to this stage, why people have been let down and why it has taken so long.”

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