Grassmarket Housing, Redevelopment, Building, Property, Renewal, News

Grassmarket, Edinburgh : Gilmour’s Close Housing

Gilmour’s Close – Hillcrest Housing Association, Scotland

5 Jun 2008

Grassmarket Property

The eastern end of the Grassmarket is known as the Bowfoot and was infamous for being the site of the gallows. Any buildings which lay on this site would have had a grandstand view over the hangings, making it ironic that one of the owners of the properties was a ropier named John Gilmour. His name lives on in a close incorporated into one of Hillcrest Housing Association’s latest developments.

Grassmarket Housing Grassmarket Property

Gilmour’s Close has been developed by Hillcrest Housing Association in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage, the Energy Savings Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council and is the second time this prominent building has been refurbished and given a new purpose by a housing association. The former Old Town Housing Association initially upgraded this building, which was then the historic Castle Trades Hostel, in the early 1980’s.

Fiona MacDonald, Conservation Architect for Edinburgh World Heritage said: “This aspirational scheme in the Grassmarket has brought a long vacant building back to life, which is a key objective of our Conservation Funding Programme. The result demonstrates that with vision and true partnership working, real advances can be made both in protecting the capital’s historic buildings and creating a sustainable and more energy efficient future.”

The tenants in Hillcrest’s 17 affordable homes will benefit from the various innovative energy efficiency features through reduced energy costs and a reduction in their carbon footprint.

Amongst the most notable of these sustainable design features is the installation of a ground source heat pump which will deliver heating and pre-heated water to all of the apartments. The only energy used by Ground Source Heat Pump systems is electricity to power the pumps. Sunspaces are featured within twelve of the flats which utilise passive solar gain, re-circulating warmed air within each flat.

John Mulloy, Hillcrest Group Chief Executive, commented that “Gilmour’s Close is a fine example of how architecturally historic buildings can be made energy efficient through the appropriate use of new technologies and invisible interventions. Hillcrest is dedicated to sustainability and it is a key driver in all of our activities.”

An official opening took place on Thursday 5th June with the development being opened by Councillor Jenny Dawe, Leader – the City of Edinburgh Council.

Gilmour’s Close building – info from Hillcrest Housing Association 040608




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Hillcrest Housing Association was founded in 1967 and is the parent company of the Hillcrest Group. We provide an extensive range of housing, support and social enterprise services across Tayside, Fife and Edinburgh. With over 5000 properties in management, an average of over 500 relets and 200 new builds per annum and a provider of homeless accommodation we are one of Scotland’s biggest housing associations. www.hillcrestha.org.uk

Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) are the official champions of the city’s World Heritage Site. EWH’s role is to monitor, enhance and promote Edinburgh’s unique historic values. www.ewht.org.uk

Ground source heat pumps provide a relatively new and environmentally clean way of heating buildings in the UK. They make use of renewable energy stored in the ground, providing one of the most energy efficient ways of heating buildings.  They are suitable for a wide variety of building types and are particularly appropriate for low environmental impact projects, such as the development at Gilmour’s Close.
Ground source heat pumps can be installed in most of the UK, using a borehole or shallow trenches or, less commonly, by extracting heat from a pond or lake. For Gilmour’s Close fourteen boreholes were created, each to an average depth of approximately seventy metres. Heat collecting pipes in a closed loop, containing water mixed with a little antifreeze are used to extract this stored energy, which can then be used to provide space heating and domestic hot water.

Hillcrest Housing Association, 4 South Ward Road, Dundee, Scotland

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Edinburgh Castle
picture © Adrian Welch

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