Back in the late 1980s West Whitlawburn was a grim, grey place. The area was experiencing all the classic signs and symptoms of a local authority estate which was becoming more and more rundown, dilapidated and unattractive.
Poor quality housing, poor repairs and maintenance, no money for improvements, high crime rate, problems with drug solvent abuse, high turnover, very low demand for the area were all characteristics prevalent in the area.
In 1989 the tenants decided to change this, no longer could they put up with such intolerable housing conditions. With the help of Glasgow City Council and the Housing Corporation the tenants took control and formed West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative, it was a brave and courageous decision.
“One day we were tenants, the next we were the Landlord,” says Phil Welsh, MBE, who was the Chairperson of the original steering Committee.
“We really had no choice, either continuing to live in unacceptable and deteriorating conditions or take control, seek housing grants from Scottish Homes and set about regenerating West Whitlawburn as an attractive, peaceful and high quality place to live,” says Phil.
With the help of professional staff and over £50 million in grants from Scottish Homes/Communities Scotland the turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous. It has been a long, hard and sometimes frustrating road, but with a lot of hard work by voluntary tenant Committee members and committed professional staff and the support of the tenants the success has to be seen to be believed.
WWHC do more than just provide, manage and maintain quality affordable housing. In 1996 WWHC established a thriving Community Centre, the Bonus Ball, with the help of funding from the Lottery, South Lanarkshire Council and Communities Scotland. The Centre runs a variety of social, recreational and educational activities and events, and is in the hub of the community. The Centre also employs a number of local people bringing much needed employment to the area.
In August 2007, the Co-operative members voted overwhelmingly to change the Co-operative’s Rules to those of a Fully Mutual and Charitable Housing Co-operative and made history in the progress. The Rule change makes the Co-operative more democratic and accountable to tenants, has financial benefits due to tax rates and relief, and also ensures the retention of the Co-operative’s high quality housing stock in the social rented sector.
Since its inception in 1989, West Whitlawburn Housing Co-operative has spent in excess of £50 million on improvements to the area.
These improvements have included the complete refurbishment of 6 blocks of multi storey flats; improvement of the local community centre; installation of CCTV throughout the area, and the building of 100 new terraced houses.