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Dumbiedykes > A (very) brief overview of the area:

Dumbiedykes is an area of central Edinburgh, located between Salisbury Crags, the Pleasance, and the Moray House campus of Edinburgh University. It comprises the three streets of Viewcraig Gardens, Viewcraig Street and Dumbiedykes Road.

It takes its name from the first School for the Deaf and Dumb that was founded nearby by Thomas Braidwood in the 1800's. For many years in the late 1800's and the first half of the 20th century the housing in the area was of a very poor quality. Indeed the Victorian tenements were known as the "Penny Tenements", the story being that the dilapidation was so bad that the owner of the properties, afraid of being liable should an accident occur, was so desperate to sell that he was prepared to let the properties be purchased for a single penny! No-one took him up on the offer.

Dumbiedykes is now a council housing scheme. Built in the 50's and 60's, and owned by the council ever since, it has until recently been the centre of a controversial plan to transfer the council's housing stock in the area to Housing Association control, with the promise of a massive injection of cash to renew the fabric of the properties (which fell through just before Christmas 2002).

There are around 700 individual flats and maisonettes in all, compressed in an area about a quarter of a mile square. Apart from owner occupiers and private tenants (of which there are a growing number, consisting of young professionals and students), the vast majority of residents are council tenants, some of whom have lived on the scheme since its inception, with a smaller proportion finding temporary accommodation on the scheme.

Several successful community projects operate in the area, mostly funded by Council money intended to benefit areas in Edinburgh's Strategic Social Inclusion Partnership, of which Dumbiedykes is a part. A volunteer run, non profit-making Food Co-op based at the Braidwood Centre provides excellent quality fresh fruit and veg into the area, and the Holyrood/Southside ICT resource centre enables residents to get on line where they wouldn't ordinarily be able to. The Crags Sports Centre opened on the edge of the scheme in April, coinciding with the unvailing of the re-furbished Braidwood Centre.

Just before Christmas, the council announced the collapse of the stock transfer process. The chosen housing association elected not to continue its bid. Instead the council have been forced to pledge the best service they can in upgrading the scheme. In March, after petitioning the Scottish Executive on behalf of the residents (with the backing of local churches), Sarah Boyack and the housing department announced an upgrade package for the scheme that amounts to 10 million over 10 years, an fantastic development. A new feeling that things are on the up now pervades the scheme.

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More Dumbiedykes images to come