'Notorious slum tenement' to be retrofitted for future tenants

The retrofitting plans would provide 'more comfortable homes' and 'lower energy bills'.

‘Notorious slum tenement’ on Westmoreland Street in Glasgow’s Govanhill to be retrofitted for future tenants LDRS

A “notorious” slum tenement block in Govanhill where flats were bought by the council is set to be refurbished and retrofitted to reduce energy bills for future tenants.

Compulsory purchase plans were approved for seven flats at 97 Westmoreland Street, which had been neglected by private landlords, three years ago.

Now, all eight homes in the close are owned by Govanhill Housing Association and bosses have submitted an application to redevelop the building.

It would include retrofitting the block, described as a “notorious slum tenement” in the plans, to provide “more comfortable homes, lower carbon emissions and lower energy bills for tenants”. Air source heat pumps would be installed, windows replaced and masonry repaired.

Annie Macfarlane, chair of Govanhill Housing Association, said the building is in “very poor condition” but the association and the council are “committed to improving housing in Govanhill”.

She said: “As part of a wider project to purchase and improve properties in the area we acquired full ownership of 97 Westmoreland Street. Some of the properties were bought by the association, others were transferred following compulsory purchase orders by the council.

“The close and the properties within are in very poor condition, however we are delighted that progress is being made to transform this neglected tenement into high quality homes for social rent.

“As well as refurbishing these properties to a high standard, we are also seeking to bring the close to the AECB Retrofit Standard for Energy Efficiency. This will result in more comfortable homes, lower carbon emissions and lower energy bills for tenants.”

The housing association hopes work can start on site in spring next year if approval is secured from the council. The plans reveal the work will involve “a maintenance, insulation, airtightness, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and air source heat pump strategy”. 

Access to the attic and rear courtyard would also be improved as, according to the application, the original basement access to the rear courtyard “encouraged crime and unhealthy living conditions”.

Councillors approved pursuing compulsory purchases for seven of the eight properties, if a voluntary sale couldn’t be agreed, at a meeting in March 2019.

It was the first time landlords in the area had been forced to sell due to the condition of their properties. Remaining tenants were to be offered new homes once their needs had been assessed.

At the time, a report by council officials revealed: “The condition of this building has been an ongoing cause for concern with the council using its full range of statutory powers to first repair the building then impose a maintenance plan on the owners. 

“When this failed Govanhill Housing Association targeted the acquisition of all of the flats, managing only to acquire flat 1/1 on a voluntary basis in July 2017.”

It added the housing association had been “unable to let their property due to the failure of the remaining private landlords to maintain the common close areas and reported incidents of anti-social behaviour experienced within some of the flats in the property and within the common close”.

Three of the private landlords were removed from the landlord register while another was facing a licensing hearing over their “fit and proper status” to let homes. One of the flats was the subject of a rent penalty notice, which makes it an offence for a landlord to collect rent from tenants.

Another flat in the block had previously been served with a closing order as the property was “below tolerable standard” while one home was “boarded up on more than one occasion to prevent illegal occupation”.

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