Cheapest road in Edinburgh: £67k a house

THE tall, cream and red, four-storey blocks of 1960s flats look like any other nondescript, edge-of-town housing development.

And with its brand new playground, good bus routes and parking and close proximity to a major shopping complex, the street appears to be blessed with ample amenities. It is alongside a police station, has a basketball court just behind for the kids and some flats even have views of the Forth Road Bridge on a clear day.

But perhaps because it’s in Wester Hailes, an area with a poor reputation, or perhaps simply because of the vagaries of the property market, Hailesland Gardens, with its handful of For Sale signs and an array of satellite dishes, is the city’s Bargain Street.

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As the rest of the Capital and Lothians bask in a housing price boom – and even a single council house to rent can attract 720 bids as the News revealed yesterday – Hailesland Gardens has been revealed as the most affordable street in the Capital with an average selling price last year of 67,860 per home.

The figures are based on homes sold by the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre in 2006, taking into account streets with five or more sales over the year.

The ESPC, which advertises more than 90 per cent of homes for sale in the Lothians, says Hailesland Gardens was one of 40 streets with average prices below 100,000 last year.

David Marshall, business analyst with the ESPC, says: “Overall, more than 1300 properties were sold for under 100,000 – that’s about one in ten.”

But there is no sense that these cheaper properties are being shunned by Capital househunters.

“Demand for properties in the ten streets we have named is high, with the average annual rise in those names standing at 15.5 per cent, well above the overall annual rise witnessed in Edinburgh in 2006 of 11.4 per cent,” says David, adding: “Demand for first time buyer properties has been strong across the board and one-bedroom flats in Leith have seen some of the fastest rises in the city at more than 20 per cent.”

Out at Hailesland Gardens, an unusually laid out street with blocks on three sides around a car park and more blocks round the corner shaped around a green area with an almost finished playground, the homes are mainly one and two bedrooms and were originally built as council flats.

But many tenants have now bought their homes and, as in any neighbourhood, the look of each stairwell depends on the pride of its residents.

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At one of the best kept stairs, a tenant explains the council wash it down on a Friday – and then his neighbours clean it again.

Bill Hardie, 73, a retired joiner and his wife Marion, 64, a former secretary, have lived there for nearly 40 years – buying their flat from the council in 1998 for a discounted tenants’ price of 8000.

Their two-bedroom flat is immaculately kept, with laminate flooring in the hall, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom and carpet in the spare room and lounge.

Marion proudly shows us the beautifully-carved white kitchen cupboards, which look like the latest model from Ikea.

“Bill made those himself from the original council cupboards and just put in new surrounds and handles,” she says.

The pair raised their two daughters in the flat and are both adamant that the spirit of a place is what you make it.

Marion says: “This is one of the better stairs because we have worked hard to keep it that way. Any noise, we go out and see who it is – and always have done.”

Her husband adds: “When my daughters were here, we didn’t let them hang about the stair. Sometimes in this area you see the wee kids out till 11pm.”

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They both stress there are a lot of “good people” in Hailesland Gardens, but complain that not everyone has the same pride in their area. Although it is mainly quiet, one of their neighbours had pellets from an air gun shot up at his window just a few weeks ago, they say.

But, all things considered, they would encourage new people to come to the area.

Tesco is near and the buses are very good,” says Marion.

And Bill adds that they have great cinemas at Westside Plaza, which is within walking distance.

Their upstairs neighbour, Rick Bond, is a long-term tenant, who believes the area is portrayed as far worse than it is. The 50-year-old, who lives alone and is unemployed, has lived there for 25 years.

He says: “In my stair three people have bought their homes. I’ve always thought that if I bought mine, would I be able to get rid of it again with the name that Wester Hailes has? But I’ve never had any trouble.

“We have a lot of amenities with the Westside Plaza and the Gyle just down the road. Also Tesco is only five minutes away and we have the Police Station round the corner.”

At the far end of Hailesland Gardens, Christine Robinson, 42 and her husband Derek, 45, live with their two teenage daughters in a two-bedroom top-floor flat.

The family’s home is reached via a long, stone staircase, but boasts lots of light and views to Fife on a good day. The Robinsons lived there for 20 years as council tenants before buying the flat in 2003 for 10,000, reducing their monthly bills from 220 in rent to 129 in mortgage payments.

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Christine, a nursery nurse, says: “The neighbourhood has a bad reputation but there are good people here as well. Soon people won’t have any choice but to come to places like this with the crazy property prices.

“There is a good community spirit. I know there are drugs but I haven’t seen anything.”

However, Derek, a bus driver, says he has seen the silver foil associated with heroin using in the stair and he bemoans the lack of a secure front door.

He says: “Unfortunately, people can come into the stair and some use it as a toilet. But the area is handy for schools and shops and, with the police station round the corner it’s not too bad for trouble, though it doesn’t make me feel more secure.”

Further down the road, lives Tiana MacDonald, 60, a retired hospital technician who has lived in Wester Hailes with her husband Jim, 66, a retired council porter, for 35 years. The couple bought their council flat in Hailesland Gardens for 5800 12 years ago.

Three owner-occupiers live on their neat and tidy staircase. The MacDonalds’ flat itself is immaculate, with a new kitchen and bathroom.

Mrs MacDonald said: “We were the first family in the block to buy our house. We got a discount as we’d been council tenants for more than 15 years. We brought up three daughters here, and I’ve never had any problems. I always say it’s a minority that give the majority a bad name. A lot of people don’t want to come here because of that.

“We’re not posh, but what we’ve got’s our own and we’re not in debt. We paid off our mortgage by the time we retired, and not many people can say that.”

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Michelle Walker, 22, a youth worker and community education student at Edinburgh University, rents a flat in the street. She was brought up close by and believes Wester Hailes has improved since she was a child.

She says: “Most of the neighbours are fine and there is a sense of community. There is some violence and drugs, but you get that in any area. It’s not as bad as it was. But I probably won’t stay here. I’m going to university to get an education and I can’t see myself living here for the rest of my life. I won’t forget where I’m from, but I don’t want to bring up a family here.”

Laura Munro, 51, a learning assistant, rents a flat in Hailesland Gardens with her partner. The stair where she lives is dirty, with broken toys lying abandoned and graffiti on the walls. A broken stair lamp lies in the front garden.

She says: “I’ve lived in Wester Hailes all my life, but I wouldn’t buy a house here. I’m embarrassed to let people see this. If my colleagues give me a lift home I won’t ask them in. The neighbours are all right though, but the stair door has been broken so many times. The bin chutes are disgusting. If I was coming to look at a house to buy, it would put me right off.”

Perhaps it is sentiments like that which make Hailesland Gardens a bargain in an expensive city.


1. Hailesland Gardens: 67,860*

2. Calder Grove: 75,742

3. West Pilton Rise: 77,083

4. West Pilton Gardens: 77,899

5. Calder View: 78,480

6. West Pilton Grove: 79,300

7. West Pilton Green: 79,606

8. Dumbryden Gardens: 80,793

9. Gillsland Road: 84,708

10. Clovenstone Park: 85,682

* Most affordable streets in Edinburgh, as per 2006 average selling price