Local residents are celebrating the decision to halt the unlawful demolition of four multi-storey blocks in the Wyndford estate in Glasgow. Wheatley Homes has been forced to abandon the demolition work, which was the largest in Scotland, when a Court of Session judge agreed that Glasgow City Council’s environmental impact assessment screening opinion was unlawful.

Wheatley and Safedem had started the demolition knowing that a judicial review was in progress. They carried on with demolition work despite the screening opinion having been reduced by the Court.

Wheatley Homes Glasgow is the largest social landlord in Scotland, managing 40,000 homes across Glasgow, including Wyndford estate. It told tenants about the plans to demolish the blocks to make space for new homes at the end of 2021, explaining that they would be rehoused in the area of their choice. This did not happen for most tenants. 

The Wyndford Residents Union has spoken out against the regeneration plans as residents are being forced to leave their home at a time of an unprecedented housing and homelessness crisis.

Neither Wheatley Homes Glasgow nor Glasgow City Council have properly considered the environmental case for retrofitting rather than demolition, but numerous architects and tower block specialists consulted by the Wyndford Residents Union suggest this is possible, preferable and more sustainable. Retrofitting is a more sustainable, lower carbon strategy than demolishing and rebuilding because it uses less materials and energy. 

Residents were supported by the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland and the Legal Services Agency to legally contest the decision. Glasgow City Council conceded the case before it reached any hearings. They conceded it because they accepted that they had failed to give adequate reasons for their decision that an environmental impact assessment was not required.

Pam Yule, member of the Wyndford Residents Union, said: 

“Every day that the high flats stay standing is a win for social housing and climate justice.  The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland has been absolutely phenomenal in their support of our campaign.”

Ben Christman, solicitor at the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland and the Legal Services Agency who worked on the case, said:

“We are glad to have helped the Wyndford Residents Union challenge illegality by both Glasgow City Council and Wheatley Homes Glasgow. Demolishing social housing will only fuel the climate and housing crises. We will support their efforts for as long as Wheatley’s demolition obsession persists.”

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“This decision is an important victory for the people of the Wyndford estate. Continuing to use these buildings is the right decision for the environment because it uses fewer materials and saves carbon emissions. 

“Decisions about providing homes should be made based on social need and environmental impact, not on what will make the most profit.”