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April 22, 2009

Wester Hailes to tell its story

Only a few years ago Wester Hailes in Edinburgh was described as one of the most advanced examples of community empowerment in the country.  However, in a matter of years the community’s much lauded representative structures have been dismantled and control over all but a few local organisations has been returned to the Council. A small group of local people who were around during the halcyon days, have decided that they have a story worth telling.

More detail…….

The History will be based around many different people’s reflections and recollections of events



Sir Frank Mears & Partners appointed as architects to design Wester Hailes


First houses completed in Wester Hailes – Dumbryden


First houses occupied in Murrayburn and Hailesland.

The Wester Hailes Association of Tenants (WHAT) formed. Membership fee 3/-, joint membership for couples 5/-. Issue 1 newsletter WHATS NEWS (price 3d): “A primary school, a shop and lots of houses that about sums up Wester Hailes. We need a secondary school quickly, we need a community centre, nursery or pre-school facilities for the very young children & their mothers, a club of some kind for our teenagers, more shops, a post office, letter boxes & you name it we have not got it!”


1973-4: WHAT campaigns on a wide variety of issues.


1974-5: Local Government Reorganisation. May 7th: first district and regional council elections.

Wester Hailes Shopping Centre opened (October).

WHAT News reports: “After asking for it for the last 3 years a rent office is now being built between Hailesland Road and Hailesland Gardens. It should save some people a long walk up to Sighthill.”

Wester Hailes Park and Drive Tenants Association, Dumbryden Action Group, Clovenstone Association of Tenants, and Westburn Action Group “all in existence”.

For Information and Social Help (FISH) set up


“Most” of the housing completed.

Murrayburn Tenants Association and Hailesland Association of Tenants formally constituted

Social and Community Development Programme (SCDP) [“affectionately known as Scooby-Do”] launched.

SCDP Wester Hailes Local Advisory Committee set up.


Wester Hailes: A Perspective of Community Needs – report produced by the Community Research Section of Edinburgh District Council Planning Department


Wester Hailes Speaks for Itself – report produced by ? [“local people”]

The Sentinel community newspaper started.

Plans made to build the Community Workshop

The Adventure Playground (The Venchie) “slowly being developed by the tenants of Murrayburn”

Wester Hailes Allotments Association started


First Wester Hailes Gala Day

The Community Workshop including Cafe Venchie opened

Job Centre opened in the shopping centre (26th June)

Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC) opened (21st August)

Hailes Action on Local Transport (HALT) formed “to lobby for an improved transport service for Wester Hailes”

Campaign to Re-Align the Bypass (CRAB) launched (December)


Wester Hailes Development Advisory Committee (WHDAC) set up – evolving out of Scooby-Doo

“Community Action – What Is it?” – conference convened by WHDAC in the WHEC (1st April)

Wester Hailes Community Shop opened (in the Community Workshop @ Hailesland Place)

Community Health Action Group (CHAG) formed “to campaign for better health facilities in Wester Hailes, primarily the building of a new health centre”

Venchie physical structure completed


SCDP replaced by the Urban Regeneration Programme (URP)

Wester Hailes Urban Regeneration Programme Advisory Committee (WHURPAC) set up – “had much the same function as its predecessor WHDAC”.

Calders “decided to join WHURPAC”.

Westburn Community Hut erected

Approval given to build Health Centre

Grant obtained for 4 playworkers + supervisor at Venchie

Group formed to promote Hailes Park Adventure Playground (“Quarry Venchie”) by people from Hailesland, Dumbryden, Kingsknowe and Longstone

Calders Playground completed


Buildings survey [Title?] – report by Mac-Data unit of Paisley College commissioned by Edinburgh District Council

Wester Hailes Community Enterprises (WHCE) established

Wester Hailes Representative Council (WHRC) formed (December)

Playground built at Clovenstone

Quarry Venchie completed

Wester Hailes Play Forum “formed to manage all four adventure playgrounds and to coordinate their activities and ideas” – the Venchie, the Quarry Venchie, Calders and Clovenstone (April)

Wester Hailes Flats project (WHF)  for homeless young people in Wester Hailes launched

Training for Freedom – Jimmy Boyle

“Bits and Pieces” theatrical group put on musical called “Promises, Promises” at Edinburgh Fringe


Wester Hailes: A Social Study of Community Development – report by Napier College commissioned by the Department of Policy Planning, Lothian Region.

Mental Health and the Community – report by Dr Sarah Boyle

Acorn Club opened (7th June)

Wester Hailes Citizens Advice Bureau opened

WHF “temporarily collapsed”.

Bits and Pieces put on “Not so Quiet on the Western Front” at the Fringe


Wester Hailes Ten Years On – report produced by WHRC.

Wester Hailes Health Centre opened

WHF relaunched


“The Huts” – Channel 4 Documentary


Club 85 opens


Wester Hailes Employment Initiative (WHEI) launched (November) comprising:
Wester Hailes Enterprises Ltd
Wester Hailes Opportunities Trust (WHOT) – January 1987
Wester Hailes Land & Property Trust (WHLPT) – November 1987
The Environmental Group
– The work of these four bodies being coordinated by umbrella organisation The Wester Hailes Initiative Coordinating Committee (WHICC).

Wester Hailes the front story on TV national news re Edinburgh being the HIV capital of the western world. Pictures of young people using vacant flats as shooting galleries.


WHF First Report produced

Wester Hailes police station opened

WHOT SHOP opened (October)

WHRC Neighbourhood Strategy initiated -> development of the Neighbourhood Councils [or 1988?]


New Life for Urban Scotland – foreward by Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Wester Hailes Community Housing Association (WHCHA) set up

Wester Hailes Local Profile and Context Statement – Lothian Regional Council Department of Planning (November)

Changes & Choices in Housing in Wester Hailes – What do You Think? – consultation booklet produced by the Housing Strategy Group of WHRC


Wester Hailes Partnership (WHP) set up (May)

Pitlochry Affirmation – the community agreed the terms on which it would enter the Partnership

Local Edinburgh District Council housing office opened

Wester Hailes Partnership Household Survey

Community Housing Strategy – produced by the Housing Strategy Group of WHRP. Purpose: “…to produce a written housing strategy which would be the community view of how housing change should happen in Wester Hailes during the Partnership initiative and what kind of changes should take place.”

Children in Wester Hailes produced (December) by MC Economics Ltd


Community Housing Information Project (CHIP) set up (April).

Community Relations Forum comprising “representatives of the Chinese, Asian and white communities” set up by WHRC.

Moving Forward – a Social Policy for Wester Hailes – produced (November) by WHRC.


“On Show to Let you Know” – Wester Hailes Info Week (2-7 Sept)


Working Group established (January) “…with the express aim of achieving the redevelopment of the centre” comprising representatives of EDC, Lothian & Edinburgh Enterprises Ltd (LEEL), the Scottish Office, the local community and the Resource Team of the Wester Hailes Partnership.

Formation of the Big Rep Council – combining the WHRC, LCC and the Neighbourhood Strategy

First WHCHA housing project completed (Walkers)


Second Wester Hailes Partnership Household Survey.

Community Housing Conference at Wiston Lodge (May) involving “representatives from all areas of Wester Hailes”.


Interim Evaluation of the Wester Hailes Partnership – report by McGregor, Kintrea, Fitzpatrick and Urquhart (The Scottish Office Central Research Unit).

Community Housing Strategy updated by the Housing Strategy Working Group of WHRC & CHIP.

Action 21 set up by WHP.

Young Tenants Support Project set up by WHP.


Local government reorganisation – City of Edinburgh Council unitary authority established.

Neighbourhood Signage Project (WHP).

Wester Hailes Partnership Development Profile (July).


Cyber Cafe opens (UK’s first in a peripheral estate).

Wester Hailes Youth Union launched (October)

The CUR Report


Maintaining the Momentum – the Partnership Strategy for the Millenium (September)

Collapse of Westside Training Agency