The Edinburgh scheme residents say is 'impossible to change' from notorious past

Once deemed one of Edinburgh's most deprived housing schemes, Craigmillar has seen considerable development in the recent years.

So troubled was the estate, it featured in a TV documentary in 1984 entitled: Craigmillar: Down But Not Out citing rampant violence, theft and fire-raising.

So how much has really changed in 40 years? Edinburgh Live interviewed Craigmillar residents and shoppers to see how locals perceive the £200 million regeneration project launched in 2007.

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A new library, a £30 million high school, shops, and council offices were among the projects that have attempted to overhaul the area as part of a joint venture between PARC Craigmillar Developments and Edinburgh Council.

A number of locals were cynical about the regeneration. One shopper said: "You’ll never regenerate here, they’ve been trying for years."

Alex, an ex-soldier who had lived in the area for 63 years, said: “I know they’re trying to do things here, but no matter what you do it’ll never change. "

He described the high drug use in the area and the difficulty locals have finding houses. "Our children have to fight for a house, there are lassies and laddies in their parents house at 29," he said.

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Even when people do find houses, he explained there are problems with overcrowding. He added: “I know of people with nine people in a two bedroom house."

Other residents however, were more optimistic about the regeneration. Doreen, 96, is a former teacher at Peffermill School. She described the area before the regeneration,. "Back then there were a lot of youngsters wandering about without anything to do, it seems to me that’s improved," she said.

She added the housing and shops were now “much better”. Under the regeneration project, 194 new homes were built, an initiative recognised at the Scottish Home Awards as ‘Housing Regeneration of the Year’.

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The addition of shops like Lidl, Home Bargains, and the British Heart Foundation was also praised by 87-year-old Roberta Bree.

She described a number of community projects like the singing group she is part of. "We rehearse every Friday afternoon in the Church as part of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra," she explained.

Sarah, a Greggs worker also described how “adding the shops had made the area so much busier”. She also praised the rebuilding of Castlebrae school.

The City of Edinburgh Council proposed to close the school in June 2013 after declining intake and poor exam results.

After protest from parents however, the school was knocked down and rebuilt, reopening on a new site under the name Castlebrae Community Campus which opened in April 2022.