Residents celebrate £9.1m rebirth of Arden

IT used to be a war zone, with residents petrified to leave their homes as gangs fought territorial battles on the streets outside.

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The transformation is aimed at breathing new life into Arden
The transformation is aimed at breathing new life into Arden

Now a new dawn beckons for Arden, in the south of the city, where housing chiefs are breathing life into a beleaguered community with a multi-million pound transformation.

Glen Oaks Housing Association has been working to change the local landscape since buying the sprawling estate from Scottish Homes 15 years ago.

Officials have introduced a range of initiatives to improve life for residents. They have installed CCTV, provided training for the unemployed, spearheaded crime reduction schemes and built several play areas for children.

And association chiefs have just done what they do best - provide quality housing. The organisation is the biggest housing provider in Greater Pollok and has completed a £9.1 million transformation of the area.

The work lasted two years and centred on:

l Building 39 new homes in Kilmuir Crescent, costing £3.6m, near the area's original stock of 29 properties.

l Refurbishing 13 tenements in Kilmuir Crescent, costing £2m, which included new roofs, loft insulation, new windows and boilers.

l Upgrading another 17 tenements in Kilmartin Place with new roofs, loft insulation, windows and boilers at a cost of £2.5m.

l Another £1m was spent on new central heating boilers.

The multi-million pound transformation represents the biggest ever single investment in local housing, according to officials, and means every tenement in Arden has now been upgraded.

Four of the new homes were built under the Scottish Government's New Supply Shared Equity scheme.

Pat McGinlay, housing association chairman, said: "Glen Oaks believe that we will only regenerate our community if we also try to improve the quality of life for all our residents

"These new homes and the renovations to our tenements are a further step forward in the ongoing improvement of Arden."

Glen Oaks chief executive Alasdair McKee added: "Creating new homes in the heart of the communities we serve is what local people want.

"This combination of more new homes plus much-needed improvements to tenements represent over £9m in investment in Arden."

The improvements have been welcomed by Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK.

Mr Holbrook said: "There is a really strong community spirit here. The community should rightly be proud of this wonderful new housing."

Children from the local Ashpark Primary marked the improvements by burying a time capsule under the new homes.

Retired sisters Hannah McGuire and Evelyn Orr have moved into one of the new two-bedroomed homes.

Pensioner Hannah said: "We love our home. It's brand new and very spacious. We are thrilled to bits with it and love the garden we now have."

The original Arden estate took four years to build. The Scottish Special Housing Association began work in 1953 - the year of the Queen's coronation.

But for decades the area made headlines for all the wrong reasons, with the public spotlight constantly on running street battles between rival gangs from Arden and neighbouring Darnley.

Vandalism was also a major problem. The number 57 bus was a regular target. Youngsters even decimated a skatepark built to keep them off the streets. It had cost £200,000 but was soon used as an illicit drinking den and a battleground of choice among local gangs.

Life was grim, but in 2007 Channel 5 sent in a television crew to film celebrity designers Colin and Justin respond to a plea for help from housing chiefs at Glen Oaks.

The pair overcame local scepticism as they worked to try to initiate improvements. They were invited back several years later to open a new community facility.

The Arden Chill Out, based in a temporary building, held classes and activities for all ages. The two designers were responsible for relocating the Chill Out to bigger and better refurbished premises.

The multi-million pound new build and refurbishment programme began in 2012 to coincide with Glen Oaks Housing Association's 21st anniversary.

Bill McNamara, the chairman at the time, said: "This is the best way we can celebrate, by announcing good news."

Two years on and the community is still celebrating.



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