SCOTLAND'S largest social housing association has put on hold one of the nation's biggest demolition projects in the face of threatened court action.

Wheatley Homes Glasgow has told solicitors acting for campaigners that it does not intend to carry out any further works to demolish the four 26-storey towers at Wyndford in the Maryhill area until such time, "if any" that Glasgow City Council issues a new screening opinion.

Residents told the Herald that vans on site, which were reportedly there to remove asbestos, had been seen leaving the site.

It comes two weeks after campaigners won a judicial review case after taking concerns to court over a failure to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by Glasgow City Council or the Scottish Government.

They argued that there was a failure to act lawfully over a decision to not have an environmental impact assessment over the demolition.

Judge Lord Lake ruled, following a concession from the council, that "adequate reasons" were "not provided" in terms of the law surrounding use of impact assessments in its decision-making. He also said that the council were liable for the campaigners' costs in the action, which have been estimated at around £10,000.

The council is now expected to make a fresh decision on whether an EIA is required through a fresh screening analysis.

Campaigners believe this will reach the same conclusion as the council has previously said that they do not accept that its original decision over the impact assessment was irrational or not within the powers of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.

READ MORE: 'Risk of explosion and injuries' in Wheatley Wyndford flats demolition

The council said on Friday that a screening opinion was expected to be concluded "in the not too distant future" which will decide whether an EIA should be carried out.

The Herald:

The demolition pause came after campaigners had warned that they would take court action for an interim interdict if Wheatley continued with their demolition works in the light of the ruling.

Nick Durie, of the Wyndford Residents Union said: "The main point is this is the first time the authorities would have to seriously contemplate the demolition not going ahead."

Campaigner and member of the Wyndford Residents Union, Pam Yule added: "It is really quite incredible and major news."

It comes as official screening analysis admitted there was a danger of the production of hazardous waste and risks of accidents and explosions from one of Scotland's biggest proposed demolition projects.

Wheatley say their consultation showed 85% of Wyndford tenants backed the regeneration plans, with 87% of tenants living in the four blocks also supporting the proposals.  They say 99% of tenants have moved out of the four multi-storeys into more suitable, attractive and quality homes and communities of their choice.

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Campaigners have expressed concerns that the issues were not considered big enough by the council to warrant an EIA which would have opened the project up to the scrutiny of councillors through the normal planning process.

They warn that any further moves to go forward with the project would result in court action and they have called on the Scottish Government to intervene.

Wheatley Homes Glasgow said the concerns over the demolition are "scaremongering".

The council's original screening analysis at the centre of the controversy, that has been seen by the Herald, found there was a risk of accidents during construction or operation of the development which could have an effect on people or the environment.

The Herald: 1969 - Wyndford Housing Estate at dusk.1969 - Wyndford Housing Estate at dusk

This related to "explosions, spillages and fires through the storage, handling and use or production of hazardous or toxic substances".

It found that the development would release pollutants or hazardous, toxic or noxious substances and that there was the potential for a "significant environmental impact".

The council said this was able to be addressed through its prior approval process and that there was a probability of the impact occurring but a low probability of "potentially highly significant effect".

The analysis also said the council considered that appropriate mitigation measures can be satisfactorily delivered and maintained, regardless of whether or not the development was subject of an EIA.

The Wyndford blocks have been earmarked for demolition by the Wheatley Group which wants to replace the existing 600 social housing units – only around 10 percent of which are still occupied – with 300 new homes.

The housing association say the project will replace the "dated and unpopular blocks" with affordable family homes, 255 of which will be for social rent.

The residents union and the Scottish Tenants Organisation (STO) believe the flats can be safely retained and retrofitted. But Wheatley say that it is too difficult and expensive.

Wyndford estate was designed by Ernest Buteux, chief technical officer for the Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA) from 1959-78. It was built on a 55 acre site at the old Maryhill barracks and was estimated to cost £4m.

The anti-demolition campaign is backed by leading Scottish architects Alan Dunlop, Kate Macintosh and Malcolm Fraser.

They have welcomed the court decision which forced the council review and say there is a clear need for an EIA.

A Wheatley Homes Glasgow spokesperson said: “A new screening opinion is awaited.

“Internal stripping of the blocks - not subject to planning control - will continue in the meantime.”