Credit: Becca Luke

Woodlands ‘slum’ flats to be taken over by Glasgow City Council

By Megan Farrimond

4-6 Melrose Street saw two students die in a fire in March 1999 and have since deteriorated into an empty slum, resulting in a Compulsory Purchase Order by the council.

A block of tenement flats in the Woodlands area are to be bought by the Glasgow City Council after the building has fallen into disrepair. 

Known in the Glasgow area as the site where two students died in a fire 20 years ago, in 2018 the flats were shown to be below tolerable standard.  

James Fraser and Daniel Heron, both aged 20, were killed in the fire on 4 March 1999, just five days after they began renting the flat in Melrose Street in Woodlands.

The flat was let by Harpal Singh, who later admitted to being refused permission for multiple occupancy and also did not install working smoke alarms in the flat. Singh was later jailed for 30 months after lying at a fatal accident inquiry. A combination of the lack of smoke alarms and the metal bars covering the basement flat’s windows created a fatal environment for the young students. 

Following the deaths, laws were tightened in 2000 regarding multiple occupancy flats.

Singh, an unlicensed landlord, has since been caught renting a further 14 unsafe properties in the area, including breaking a rent suspension order and demanding rent from a tenant on the same street that the two students died. 

In a 2017 report, an array of dangers were found in the properties let out by Singh including a lack of smoke alarms, no carbon monoxide alarms, damaged floors, damp, windows that did not open, a leaking boiler, no window vents and cracked windows. 

The flats on 4-6 Melrose Street are in a sought after area for many students with its proximity to the University and the city centre. However, the Glasgow City Council has set a compulsory purchase order on the flat due to its deterioration into an empty slum. 

According to the Scottish Housing News, some of the flats were found to have been let out by an unregistered private landlord who could not prove ownership of the building. 

Iain Robertson, director of contracts and property at Glasgow City Council, stated in a report to councillors: “When the property was first reported to Housing and Regeneration Services in late 2017, it was found that those flats which were occupied were in very poor condition and failed the tolerable standard.”

The flats will be transferred to Charing Cross Housing Association and will be turned into flats for social housing.


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