A heart warming housing story

I was really thrilled to hear of an old primary school in Glasgow being transformed into gorgeous affordable homes for local people.

The project was undertaken by Home Group Scotland, one of the country’s largest housing associations. In October 2004, the school said goodbye to pupils for the last time. Facing an estimated repair bill of £5m, a merger with another school was decided and the building was left abandoned.  

The elegant Grade B Edwardian baroque style school, a familiar part of the local community, was left unused until 2018, when Home Group bought it and started the restoration process. They worked closely with Glasgow City Council and Cathcart Housing Association to sympathetically restore the school and create 49 beautiful affordable homes in this desirable area of Glasgow. 

The before and after shots illustrate the high standards of design applied to the project.

Young mother and new resident, Holly Osbourne, shares her experience: “The flats are exceptional,” she said. “Sometimes I can’t believe this is where I live. I grew up in the area and went to Holmlea nursery and I’ve watched this school being transformed.” As a new, single mum she really needed some family support and the Housing Managers at Home Group went above and beyond to help her. “My mum was a Home Group resident in a different area but the team worked hard to get her a flat in the development too. Now she’s so close and can pop by for a cuppa whenever she wants. I had wondered who the lucky people would be to get the flats with the fabulous huge windows and my mum got one!”

Holly, Hudson and her mum, Janice

Gone are the school bells, the teachers, the dinner hall, the books and blackboards, but the spirit of the school lives on: some of the new residents are former pupils. One said: “I was a pupil at Holmlea Primary school 46 years ago. I think it’s great living amongst the old classrooms, there are so many memories here. The flat we have is brilliant. Fantastic views and my daughter and I have plenty of space. We couldn’t ask for more.”

 As part of their outreach on the project, Home Group invited former teachers and pupils of Holmlea back to tour the site. It was an opportunity to reminisce about some of the best years of their lives – as well as the occasional football crashing through a classroom window!

Customer Hugh Burrows said: “I’m thrilled to be moving into a home within the old school building. It holds so much history and I’m delighted to be a part of it I’ve been told my living room was once the headmaster’s office so that’s pretty fun.”

Home Group worked with Cathcart & District Housing Association (CDHA) on the project. Director, Christine Leitch, said: “It has been a tremendous achievement to be able to save this iconic building. Completion has revitalised the area and all our new tenants are delighted with the quality of their brand-new homes. The dedication of the design team and the support of Glasgow City Council have ensured that this piece of history now has a vibrant new life. I am proud to have been a part of it all.”

Stuart Russell, director of ABC Architects, who also worked on the building said: “Holmlea is one of those rare projects where we were lucky enough to work with a true landmark, still cherished by the community which had sadly been neglected and fallen into a state of disrepair.” 

The category B listed building is a beautiful example of the Andrew Balfour designed Glasgow schools of the early 1900’s. Home group recognised it’s value and worked with the existing civic frontage and the fine craftmanship of the main internal atriums.

The inspired solution is an outstanding example of transformational conservation and urban regeneration.

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