Midlothian Council endorses the principles of corporate governance, namely openness and inclusivity, integrity and accountability. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 requires Scottish local authorities to develop a Local Housing Strategy which must assess housing provision and the provision of related services in the authority’s area, including in particular:

  • the nature and condition of the housing stock
  • the needs of persons in the area for housing accommodation
  • the demand for, and availability of, housing accommodation
  • the needs of persons in the area for, and the availability of, housing accommodation designed or adapted for persons with special needs


To enable adults and older people with physical and mental health care needs to live at home inde­pendently, while providing a focal point for community services and activities.


Midlothian is one of the Councils in South East Scotland, an area with one of the highest level of affordable housing demands in Scotland. In Midlothian, the number of people aged over 75 has been projected to increase by 89% i.e. from 5,500 to 10,400 between 2006 and 2031. As a consequence, there has been an increasing demand for housing that meets the needs of an ageing population.

In order to address the increased demand for housing suitable for older people as a result of this demographic change, the Council embarked on the development of Cowan Court, an Extra Care Housing scheme.


Cowan Court is a specially designed housing development of 32 self-contained flats (28 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom flats) enabling adults and older people with varying physical and mental health care needs, including dementia, to live at home independently for as long as possible, with the expectation of meeting end of life care needs.

Unlike other Extra Care housing elsewhere, it is also a focal point for the wider community. A communal hub building is located within the Extra Care Housing facilities. It includes the residents’ lounge, a guest suite to accommodate visitors, laundry facilities, a restaurant and cafe, telecare facilities, Wi-Fi access and large, private communal gardens. Other facilities, such as meeting rooms, hairdressing saloon and a cafe, are available for use by the general public. Already, meeting spaces are being used for purposes as diverse as residents meetings, yoga classes and kickboxing.

Some of the interesting design features include:

  • Dementia-friendly interior and exterior design, including clear signage throughout, and memorable images and colours to help residents recognise where they are in the building
  • Sufficient lighting system to support those with deteriorating eyesight (a common issue for people as they age)
  • Colour coded corridors to help people associate the colour with the location of their home
  • Wide corridors which provide excellent access for wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
  • Smart telehealth technology to assist with care (to suit individual needs)
  • Garden designed for dementia and sensory impairment and outside gym exercise equipment designed for elderly people.

Particular attention was paid to the project’s energy performance: the high level of energy efficiency measures installation means reduced CO2 emissions and reduced energy bills for residents.

Key results and benefits

  • The long term outcome will be the creation of more sustainable communities by:
  • Ensuring tenants are central to the care planning process
  • Working in partnership with tenants, their families and other professionals in the provision of care
  • Flexibly meeting the changing care and support needs of tenants
  • Providing a hub to involve and engage the local community and tenants in activities, social interaction and health promotion
  • Providing a dementia friendly home

Furthermore, jobs were provided for local people during the designing and construction stages through a community benefit clause in the contract between the Council and the builder. This enabled 6 young people to take part in work placements and secured 7 local apprentices.

European Responsible Housing Awards 2014

Modalidad Local social sustainability