Harvesters Way in Wester Hailes had been dominated by 1970s multi-storey blocks but when they were demolished in 1994, the six-acre brownfield site remained vacant for the next 20 years. The new development created 40 three-bedroom townhouses with gardens and 143 one, two and three-bedroom flats arranged in four- and six-storey blocks. Forty-seven homes were for affordable rent, 62 were for midmarket rent and 74 were for shared equity sale.
The site was close to existing homes, a shopping centre and railway line, so needed careful planning regarding site security and public safety. We worked closely with the rail authorities before and during construction to meet their safety requirements.
During the design phase, the local community had the opportunity to provide feedback at meetings, community council presentations and a public open day at the Wester Hailes Library. This feedback was built into the design process to ensure that the new development met the needs of the local community and new residents in the area.
We followed ‘Designing Streets’ principles to create people-friendly, landscaped spaces and connections between the new and existing buildings which catered for both people and vehicles. The new housing followed the contemporary design of the successful earlier phases, adapted to take account of the nearby business centre and healthy living centre.
The new blocks were arranged in squares set around private landscaped courtyards, typically with four-storeys of flats at each corner linked by three-storey family homes. This created a varied and active streetscape with entrances to ground floor houses and flats, private gardens and feature planting. The multi-functional courtyards included private car parking, communal gardens and areas for children to play.
To create a harmonious feel across the scheme, we used a limited yet contemporary palette of external materials with facing bricks used throughout, accented with double or triple-height dark grey window surrounds at corners or within the façade, dark grey doors, metallic cladding, graphite panels and galvanised metalwork balconies.
A pedestrian priority zone was created to link the new blocks to the healthy living centre, refurbished underpass and train stops, with the existing street finishes extended to provide a seamless continuity with the new development.
The new blocks were softened with green spaces and areas of planting. New hedges and shrubs were planted to define the eastern boundary with the ‘Greenway’ open space and screen the parking areas, while at the same time we enhanced the existing pedestrian and cycle links to this important green space and to the wider community. We also planted a buffer zone of native trees and shrubs on the steeper slopes to the south of the site.
The new homes were built to meet the Lifetime Homes Standard, Housing for Varying Needs Part 1 Standard and Secured by Design accreditation.
A distinctive feature of this energy-efficient development was the centralised heating system. Hot water and heating are provided by a communal boiler, with hot water pumped through insulated pipes direct to the properties. The system is managed by Places for People Scotland, safeguarding its efficiency and keeping running costs affordable for residents.
As part of our commitment to leaving a lasting legacy, we worked in partnership with Places for People Scotland to offer a six-month training placement to two local young people, supported by the Employability Fund, with the opportunity to secure formal apprenticeships.