Dozen of residents on two Aberdeen streets could face being moved from their “sinking” homes, the Evening Express can reveal today.
Councillors will meet tomorrow to discuss the fate of residents living in 13 blocks of flats on Errol Street and Errol Place, near King Street, as the ground under the properties is sinking.
The long-running subsidence issue was first identified by residents more than two decades ago, with two blocks having been demolished in the past.
Four options will be put before members of the city council’s growth and resources committee when they meet in private session at the Town House tomorrow – including knocking the remaining blocks down and moving residents elsewhere in the city.
An Errol Street resident, who asked not to be named, said the local authority “condemned the houses” on both streets around 25 years ago due to “subsidence issues”.
She added: “They were due to be pulled down 15 years ago but that didn’t happen, and since then only two buildings have been demolished.
“The residents want clarity. My house is one of the worst affected, the ceilings don’t even touch the walls anymore.
“My husband and children have had to move in with family because of health issues so I’m living here alone.”
Subsidence occurs when the ground under a property collapses, or sinks lower, taking some of the building’s foundations with it.
This puts strain on the home’s structure as one side sinks, causing cracks to appear. Many of the residents have also reported damp problems and cold flats.
It is understood the four options on the table are for external repairs, micropiling and ground beams, mass concrete underpinning and demolishing the buildings then rehoming the residents. All options other than external repairs would result in residents being rehomed, with the building work displacing people in the area for up to five years.
Micropiling and ground beams – where strengthening rods are drilled into the ground – would take five years to complete, mass concrete underpinning four years, and external works six to eight weeks.
It would take around 12 weeks to totally demolish the buildings.
John and Marilyn Davidson have lived on Errol Place for 16 years and believe demolition is the only option.
John said: “We have had damp in the bedrooms. The conditions of the houses are awful.
“They should demolish them – they’re that bad.”
The couple said they have been plagued with issues like windows and doors “twisting”.
Even when their front door was closed they could see outside through a crack next to the hinge.
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
John added: “They aren’t worth anything. We’ve been here 16 years and the only work that’s been done is external painting.
“The stairwells were meant to be redone but they never have been. The doorway is twisted and so are the window frames. There are times we can hardly lock them.
“They’re not worthwhile living in.”
Marilyn added: “I wish they would make up their minds about what they are doing.”
Another resident, James Gray, 71, who lives on Errol Street, said he was one of the lucky ones, having avoided issues like damp in his home. He too, however, would like to see the buildings demolished.
He said: “They said it will take four or five years to do all the underpinning, and they can rehome everyone. I must be one of the lucky ones. It’s a cold flat, there’s a draught from the windows, but I haven’t had any damp.
“There’s nothing concrete been decided. There’s seven houses empty, the one next door has been empty for two years. It’s a shame when there’s people homeless.
“I’ve lost my family over the past couple of years so I want to move. I was going to go away for a month in January with my daughter and son-in-law but then all of this happened and I couldn’t.
“They’ve said they would move us into a like-for-like house.”
Agnes Brands, 82, who lives in Errol Place, said she would like to stay in her flat. She added: “They are very cold.
“I have had the roof leaking before for a while. I’ve been here 31 years. I’m not able to move. Some of the people want to flit but I’m not able.
“Will the council help you out? I can’t move my stuff.”
Councillor Sandra Macdonald, who represents the area, stressed that the homes were not a danger to the residents.
She said: “They’re safe for habitation – we wouldn’t have people living in them otherwise.
“There was a consultation with residents in September and as far as I’m aware they were split half and half.
“Some want to stay because they have friends and family.
“Anecdotally older folk want to stay in their homes.
“At the end of the day I don’t think doing nothing is an option – I don’t think anyone wants to just mend and repair.
“It has to be either concrete underpinning or demolishing the buildings.
“It has to be the best decision for the residents and our tenants as well and the council’s finances.”
Cllr Macdonald said the decision will be taken tomorrow but it would take a “while” to negotiate with homeowners.
She added: “There’s a complete range of tenants who are all wanting to know what is going to happen in the longer term.”