MEET the last residents of a ghost-town housing estate which was earmarked for demolition 15 years ago.
Just 10 of 240 houses on the Deans South estate in Livingston, West Lothian – dubbed ‘Beirut’ by locals – remain occupied amid a 15-year dispute with council chiefs and a construction firm.
The handful of residents clinging on have refused to sell up to the council, insisting they are not being offered enough cash for their homes which were built in the 1960s.
A developer has offered to rehome residents if they agree to sell to them so their houses can be demolished.
The 15-year wrangle began when it was found that the homes were built with aerated concrete, Siporex, considered to be inadequate for heavy loads.
Two empty houses were torn apart to establish whether the concrete had been used before all 240 homes were condemned.
Council tenants were moved out, leaving most of the estate totally uninhabited.
Houseproud couple Joe Baxter, 78, and wife Isabel, 79, bought their four-bedroom home from the local authority through Right to Buy and have paid off the mortgage.
We don’t feel like moving anymore – we just don’t want to move at all. We were gobsmacked when we were told they would be demolished.
Homeowner Joe Baxter
They say it was valued at £105,000 15 years ago but they have been offered just £47,000.
Joe said: “We have had this house for 53 years – for 20 years we rented it. We bought it in 1986 through Right to Buy, and paid off the mortgage.
“The situation is demoralising. We love our house – there’s nothing wrong with it. We have got a lovely garden.
“We don’t feel like moving anymore – we just don’t want to move at all. We were gobsmacked when we were told they would be demolished.
“We could hardly accept it, and couldn’t believe it. It has just been demoralising over all these years – we have lost all our neighbours.
“We had great neighbours and a great community. We call it ‘Beirut’ – it is like a ghost town.”
Timeline of Deans South Estate
1960s – Deans South Estate completed and residents begin to move into the new homes
2003 – Estate earmarked for demolition after the concrete used in the homes – Siporex – was found to be inadequate for heavy loads
2004 – Residents begin to move out after two homes pulled down to inspect the concrete
2010 – Estate becomes almost uninhabited
2011 – Local authority attempts a compulsory purchase order which fails
2019 – 10 homes remain occupied with last residents reluctant to leave
The couple, who have one great-grandchild and eight grandchildren, have been offered a bungalow on the site of their current home, by developers Springfield Properties.
If some homeowners refuse to agree to a deal with Springfield Properties, the local authority could be forced to use a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
A previous CPO attempt in 2011 was unsuccessful.
Kerry MacIntosh has lived on the estate for 17 years.
The mum-of-two, who has a daughter aged ten and a 13-year-old son, said: “There wasn’t anything wrong with them except a defect with the roofs – they could have put in tiles and proper drainage and double glazing.
What is a Compulsory Purchase Order?
A compulsory purchase order (CPO) is a legal order in the UK which allows certain organisations to buy a property or land without permission from the owner.
A CPO may be used for housing developments, motorways or shopping centres etc when a landowner does not want to sell.
“It is not about money, it’s about doing the right thing. A fair deal would be current market value, or a house for a house.
“We want like for like. My kids are isolated, they’ve got no friends here, they’ve got no neighbours.
“For 15 years, the only solution we’ve been offered is a council solution. Why are we getting less money than the house is worth?
“They condemned them, so we couldn’t move – we’ve been left in limbo. We’ve worked hard and it’s like having the rug being taken away.
“There’s many days you want to pack up and go.”
She said the money offered by the local authority for the three-bedroom house would have been between £22,000 and £35,000, or shared equity.
Kerry hopes this will be the last winter her family spends living in their house.
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She added: “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully justice will be done.”
A spokesman for West Lothian Council said: “We have recently made an increased offer to the few remaining homeowners and will continue to work to find a positive solution that will lead to the redevelopment of the whole Deans South estate.”
Springfield Properties declined to comment.
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