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And finally… Roll of dishonour unveiled for 2014 Carbuncle Awards

carbunclesAberdeen, Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch, Leven, Lochgelly and Maddiston will compete for the dubious honour of winning a prize at the 2014 Carbuncle Awards.

The places have been named on the shortlist for the Plook on a Plinth category, which seeks Scotland’s most dismal town.

Scottish architecture and planning magazine Urban Realm, which runs the awards, describes Aberdeen simply as the place “where architecture goes to die”.

The Zit Building award, given to the worst building completed since the last awards, will go to the Edinburgh Airport extension, Kirkton Church Garage in Lanarkshire, Lennoxtown in North Lanarkshire, Oxford University Port Meadow Buildings, the Premier Inn at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay, Queens Hall in Argyll & Bute or the Scottish Parliament extension.

Finally Bardowie Brae in Stirlingshire, Irvine leisure centre, Little Raith in Fife, Renfrewshire’s Neilston Community Windfarm and the Scottish Provident building in Edinburgh will fight it out for the Pock Mark award for the worst planning decision.


Construction to grow 23 per cent over next two years, Construction Products Association predicts

Dr Noble Francis

Dr Noble Francis

The construction industry will grow 23 per cent by the end of 2018 and contribute £12 billion to the UK economy over the next two years alone, according to the Construction Products Association.

Published today, the CPA’s autumn forecasts predicts that construction output will grow 4.8 per cent in 2014 and 5.3 per cent in 2015.

Private housing starts are expected to grow 18 per cent in 2014 and 10 per cent in 2015 while the private commercial sector is set to increase 3.7 per cent in 2014 and 6.1 per cent in 2015.

The CPA said roads construction will rise 46.1 per cent by 2018 and energy infrastructure is anticipated to grow 118.2 per cent by 2018.

Dr Noble Francis, economics director of the Association, said: “Our forecasts reflect a welcome, recurring theme as growth continues and begins to broaden.  Short-term activity is still led by private housing, infrastructure and commercial, and areas of public sector construction are showing the first signs of increasing strength.  We believe the expansion will continue through 2018.

“Recovery is not a foregone conclusion however, and several important risks remain, primarily around the strength of the UK and Eurozone economies, the policy outcomes following the 2015 General Election and the impact of any supply constraints such as the scarcity of labour and materials.”

Stewart Milne firm benefits as house builders turn to timber

Alex Goodfellow

Alex Goodfellow

Stewart Milne Timber Systems has reported a surge in demand for timber frames with a 40 per cent increase in contract wins from house builders over the past 12 months.

The company attributed the success to a combination of increased demand across the house building sector, its ability to meet capacity demands, and its partnership approach to value engineering resulting in strong delivery to meet client deadlines and budgets.

The rise in demand for new-build homes brought about by Help to Buy and other government schemes has helped the market to grow, and house builders have been taking advantage by looking at other build methods, material sources and skills supply.

This, coupled with a growing awareness of the ‘cost and speed benefits’ timber frame offers, has resulted in business growth for Stewart Milne Timber Systems.  Typically, new homes built in timber frame can be completed in nine weeks, compared to 16 weeks with a comparable masonry build.

Alex Goodfellow, group managing director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems, said the need to meet demand while maintaining profits and achieving high performance standards has encouraged house builders to consider the benefits of timber. A key advantage, he stated, is the flexibility and availability of timber, which offers a robust and established supply chain where current UK annual requirements are less than 10 per cent of available capacity.

Alex said: “With the construction industry, as a whole, growing, we’re noticing a real upturn in the demand for timber frame construction. House builders are looking at it as an alternative, and once they see the benefits, they are increasingly extending the number of developments being built with timber frame.  That’s reflected in the increased number of contracts we’re winning from the sector.”

According to the Structural Timber Association, roughly 22 per cent of homes across the UK are built using timber frame and this is likely to increase to around 30 per cent in the next few years.

Alex Goodfellow added: “Timber frame is a sustainable, cost-effective material which enables house builders to quickly increase capacity in response to demand. Offsite manufacture in particular allows for shorter call-off periods and less material wastage. Our timber systems can be erected within a matter of days, and can also be pre-fitted with windows and doors, significantly reducing the time it will take to build a home.

“Timber is the most energy efficient building material available and will likely become the build material of choice across greater swathes of the UK as more house builders realise how cost effective and environmentally friendly it is.”

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Cala unveils record profits and significant land investment

Cala_GroupCala Group has reported a doubling of pre-tax profit and a potential development pipeline worth £4.7 billion.

Announcing its financial results for the year ended 30 June 2014 today, the group said it was on course to deliver a three-fold increase in revenue by 2016.

The acquisition of luxury developer Banner Homes has accelerated its stated expansion plans – targeting turnover of around £0.5bn in the current financial year, while the backing of investment partners Patron and Legal & General has increased its financial firepower.

The firm’s landbank grew 27 per cent to 12,690 plots, up from 10,016 the previous year, with a potential gross development value of £4.7bn, up 48 per cent on £3.1bn the previous year, with a projected average selling price of £370,000, up from £316,000.

Pre-tax profit grew 117 per cent to £27.3m over the year, up from £12.6m, while revenue grew 22 per cent to £294.2m, up from £240.8m.

Cala is now a top 10 UK housebuilder by revenue with eight regional operating areas; five in England and three in Scotland.

Commenting on the results, Alan Brown, chief executive of CALA Group, said: “This year has been a transformational period for CALA with our excellent financial performance delivering record profits once again.  Following another year of significant investment in our land bank and our acquisition of Banner Homes in March, CALA is now an established, top 10 UK housebuilder by revenue and, with the bulk of the Banner integration now complete, our focus is on driving the increased synergies and benefits of scale we have identified.

“Our growth plans are underpinned by the strength of our landbank, and the quality of our development locations with 81 per cent of the projected profit to be delivered through our business plans in the next four years already owned, contracted or with deal terms agreed, providing the Group with an excellent platform and a high level of visibility.

“We have entered the new financial year in a very positive position thanks to strong forward sales and, with a stable market backdrop, I am very excited about CALA’s prospects for the year ahead which will deliver our  first year of significant volume growth since the implementation of our new growth strategy.”


South Lanarkshire firm set for new offices after UKSE funding package

Scott Webb (left) with Steven Deans

Scott Webb (left) with Steven Deans

South Lanarkshire based construction company Deans Civil Engineering has been awarded a six-figure boost from UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE) to support continued market growth and fund the renovation of a disused bakery to establish state-of-the-art office premises.

The financial support from UKSE was part of a funding package which has allowed Deans Civil Engineering to be able to purchase its own premises as well as fit out and fund the move.

UKSE is the Tata Steel subsidiary, set up to help growing companies operating in former steel producing areas realise their full potential, boost the local economy and create jobs.

Based in Cambuslang, the construction company’s expertise covers all aspects of civil engineering and ground works, operating around the United Kingdom in a variety of sectors. These include social housing, healthcare, education, and commercial and private developments. Key Deans Civil Engineering’s clients include Bowmer & Kirkland, Key Property Solutions, Lend Lease and Wates.

Steven Deans, managing director, established Deans Civil Engineering in May 2010. Strong relationships have stood the business in good stead throughout the economic downturn and despite a suppressed market, the business has achieved its projected turnover and more.

Since UKSE’s investment, Deans Civil Engineering has increased activities within the facilities management market which has introduced major clients and UK-wide contracts to the company. Support has also resulted in the creation of 15 new jobs in 2014.

Most recently, the company was involved in preparations for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, constructing temporary car parks and walkways for the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city and wider area. In readiness for Games preparations, Deans Civil Engineering employed a full time apprentice civil engineer who has experienced a unique training and employment opportunity.

Steven Deans said: “The support we’ve experienced from UKSE has been tremendous. We have been persistent for a numbers of years in applying for funding to boost business which I’m delighted has now come to fruition. The loan we have received has been invaluable.

“Investing in people is an important focus for Deans Civil Engineering, and the new, accessible premises in Cambuslang provide us with a staff training base.  As someone who was undergraduate studying Quantity Surveying myself, I understand and appreciate the value of work-based training, experience and continuing professional development.

“The additional working capital has meant we are able to take advantage of market growth and tackle new areas of business. With a committed team of people based in fit-for-purpose office premises, we can concentrate on steering our company to an even stronger position.”

Scott Webb, regional executive for UKSE, added: “Deans Civil Engineering is a well run business which has demonstrated continued growth over the past few years.

“It’s wonderful to see them getting settled in to the new office which will set the scene for future project wins across new markets and sectors as well as the creation of local jobs for the people of Lanarkshire.”

Building Briefs – October 20th


Leith Street Bridge to be scrapped in revamp

One of Edinburgh’s most prominent footbridges will be torn down to make way for the new £850 million St James Quarter development.

The wavy steel and glass crossing over Leith Street is most likely destined for the scrapyard but it is understood the door has been left open for a its relocation elsewhere.

Unveiled in 2003, the bridge – linking St James Centre to the carpark at Greenside Place – has divided opinion since opening as part of the Omni centre development and its probable demolition is expected to take place next year.


Hilton plans £6.5m Dundee hotel

A Hilton hotel is set to return to the centre of Dundee in a £6.5 million development.

Argyll House and the adjoining Waverley House in West Marketgait could become a hotel in the Hampton by Hilton franchise as soon as early 2016.

The two empty office blocks would be stripped back to their concrete shells for a complete refurbishment and external recladding to create a modern attractive 105-bedroom middle market hotel.

Plans have been lodged and it is understood they have been well received by Dundee City Council, which is keen to bring more hotels to the city.

Hilton closed its 129-bedroom Garl Grey Hotel 18 months ago as the site was needed for the £1 billion waterfront project and it was looking for a new central location.


Owner of key Perth development site goes bust

The future of a key development site on the edge of Perth is in doubt after its owners went into administration.

Following the decision by Sainsbury’s that it was no longer interested in pursuing the £41 million plan for the former Perth Mart site on Crieff Road, The Courier understands that the limited partnership Perth City West has gone bust.

It is the latest setback for the site and casts doubt over the future of various projects in the city.

Cash to unblock the traffic-choked A85/A9 junction — desperately needed for its impact in other areas — was to have come from the development of the area.

In August, Sainsbury’s announced it was not proceeding with its proposed supermarket due to an ongoing legal battle with Tesco and also after it had tried to establish a proper sewerage and drainage system for the site.

The controversial plan was granted in May 2012 by Perth and Kinross Council and the local authority caused further consternation when they later told Sainsbury’s it could start building the supermarket before vital roadworks on the A9/A85 were under way.

Tesco lodged an 11th hour bid in February last year to try to have this stopped but failed.

However, the firm then submitted an official appeal against the council’s decision with the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The legal battle between the two supermarkets is ongoing.


Police HQ sparks jobs boost

A new police HQ on the banks of the Clyde has triggered work for dozens of job-seekers across the East End of Glasgow.

More than 50 locals have been recruited since construction firm Morgan Sindall began building the £24million Police Scotland office development in Dalmarnock.

Bosses say they want to create a lasting legacy and have been working on an employment programme with regeneration chiefs at Clyde Gateway.

So far 11 apprenticeships have been established, 23 others have secured jobs while 25 more have had work experience either with the firm or contractors.


Students to colonise more redundant office space in Glasgow’s West End

Elder & Cannon Architects have submitted plans on behalf of Lysander Student Properties to convert a vacant office building at Clifton Place, Glasgow, into managed student accommodation.

Clifton House will be subdivided internally to form 142 single bed flats and 71 studio flats together with a new ground floor common room extending onto a formal landscape of timber decking, steps and seating laid over an existing concrete embankment connecting to Sauchiehall Street.

Internally a paved courtyard with inbuilt timber seating will be created with existing footpaths retained whilst roads and parking spaces give way to new street furniture and planting.


Homes plan for Midlothian village

Developers have submitted plans to increase the size of a Midlothian village by more than a third.

The proposal would transform the village of Rosewell by adding almost 300 properties to a community that has just 800.

The 42-acre Gorton Loan site would be constructed in several stages and include road and infrastructure works.


Jobs at risk as joiner hits trouble

Shetland-based T&N Joinery Ltd had gone into administration, putting 60 local jobs at risk.

The company called in administrators on Tuesday after running into working capital difficulties.

Lerwick-based T&N Joinery provides a range of products and services including timber windows, UPVC windows, conservatories, stairs, roofing, fitting and installation and general contracting.

The company currently employs 60 local craftsmen, fitters and operational staff.

James Stephen and Bryan Jackson of BDO were appointed joint administrators to the company on Tuesday.

The administrators said they plan to keep the company trading while they review the business and market the sale of the business and assets.


Boutique hotel plan for old council HQ

A former municipal building that has become a popular backdrop for wedding photo sessions is to be transformed into a boutique hotel.

The 123-year-old Boclair House in Bearsden, formerly used by East Dunbartonshire Council as its educational department headquarters, has been sold and is set to be redeveloped by its new owners.

The Tudor Gothic house dates back to 1890 and has a castellated tower and series of porticoed archways, said to resemble Italian cloisters.

The buyer, WPH Developments/Westpoint Homes, plans to build nine four, five and six-bedroom detached homes to the rear of the building, while Boclair House itself is set to be converted


Land plan’s approval clears way for Angus homes

Angus Council has approved plans for 23 new village homes.

A council committee approved Allied Irish Bank’s application for change of use of land at Kingston Place in Kingsmuir, demolishing former industrial buildings to make way for houses and a road.

Rob Murray, Angus Council’s development standards committee convener, said: “I’m satisfied this provides a comprehensive package to upgrade this land and develops the site into more appropriate land.”

Kingston Place is not within the applicant’s control and a part may be owned by Forfar Common Good Fund, and, as such, may require landowner consent. The development was approved subject to no work taking place until Kingston Place has been brought up to adoptable standard between its junction with the Lownie Road and the southwest corner of the site.


Dunedin Canmore and Wheatley take major step towards partnership

Two of Scotland’s leading affordable housing groups, Dunedin Canmore and Wheatley, now look set to form a new partnership following a members’ vote.

Dunedin Canmore’s shareholding members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a rule change at a Special General Meeting in a change which will enable Dunedin Canmore to join Wheatley early next year. The move would still be subject to satisfactory completion of the remaining milestones including final consent from the Scottish Housing Regulator.

Meanwhile, according to a statement by the Scottish Housing Regulator, West Highland Housing Association, which owns and manages 743 homes across Argyll and Bute, is set to merge with 6,156-home Link Group after members voted for the move at the beginning of October.

The Scottish Housing Regulator also announced that Gardeen and Kingsridge Cleddans housing associations have been moved from ‘medium engagement’ to ‘low engagement’ – meaning they will receive lower regulatory scrutiny.


Glasgow workers roll up their sleeves to give blood

Glasgow staff at Lovell are continuing to roll up their sleeves and help save lives – by giving blood.

The company hosts regular blood donor sessions organised by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) at its Glasgow Business Park offices. The latest session attracted more than 40 donors – including workers from Lovell and other Glasgow firms – resulting in the donation of 33 pints of blood.

According to SNBTS, Scotland needs 5,000 blood donations each week just to keep up with demand.

Lovell has been hosting blood donor sessions in Glasgow for the past nine years, with staff from some 20 local businesses joining Lovell employees to give life-saving donations.

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Aberdeen approves accommodation for almost 200 students

Powis Place

Aberdeen City Council has approved proposals for new student accommodation to help ease the chronic shortage of beds in the city.

Alumno Developments plans to create a 196-bed site at the former Plumb Centre in Powis Place, which is close to Aberdeen University.

The design was approved after Alumno Developments made modifications to its initial plans to include additional car parking.

Despite being initially proposed as a “zero car” scheme, the site will now feature spaces for 20 vehicles and room for 70 bicycles.

David Campbell, managing director of Alumno, confirmed the company is now looking for “further opportunities” in Aberdeen.

Mr Campbell said: “Student accommodation is hugely under-supplied in Aberdeen.

“With some 32,000 people requiring rooms there remains a gap of almost 12,000 spaces in the city and we want to go continue to tackle that issue by developing more new facilities.

“Providing high quality accommodation adds significant value to what is already renowned as an excellent student experience in Aberdeen, enhancing its reputation as a key educational hub and boosting retention of a student body which contributes more than £470m per year to the economy – more than £350m of which is on off-campus living costs.”

The building will also have a glass frontage facing on to Powis Place, roof terraces and a range of amenities in communal outside and indoor spaces.

Preparatory works at the site are expected to begin later this year with construction expected to be complete by August 2016.


Jackie Bird breaks ground for new Ronald McDonald House

L-R: David Watson, Chairman, Ronald McDonald House -  Jackie Bird - Alastair Wylie, CCG Chairman & Chief Executive

L-R: David Watson, Chairman, Ronald McDonald House – Jackie Bird – Alastair Wylie, CCG Chairman & Chief Executive

BBC newsreader Jackie Bird broke ground last week to mark the start of leading charity Ronald McDonald House’s new facility at the South Glasgow Hospitals campus.

The development will provide modern ‘home from home’ accommodation for families of children being treated at the new children’s hospital.

Developed by Glasgow construction and manufacturing company CCG, the new 30 bedroom facility will offer free accommodation to enable families to stay close to their child throughout their time in hospital. The development is designed to maximise the comfort of visiting families and includes Wi-Fi, secure parking and a garden with picnic area to enjoy some outside space.

Jackie Bird on site at the new Ronald McDonald House ground breaking ceremony said: “The House is looking amazing because you can see the potential. To know that such a facility will be ready and waiting for a family that needs it is such a great thing to have. And I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.

“My son Jacob was born 8 weeks premature and very, very ill and was in hospital for the first weeks of his life.  Because we lived in Lanarkshire we were able to travel in and out.

“I remember vividly the trauma of it all and can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if we had come from Inverness or the Borders and had to find accommodation, look after other children and try to deal with something awful at the same time. It’s just too much and that’s why I am pleased to be associated with the House.”

Speaking at the ceremony alongside Jackie Bird, CCG chairman and chief executive Alastair Wylie said: “Ronald McDonald House is an excellent charity providing a critical life line to families in need of support. Here at CCG we are delighted that our first development in the health sector is such a worthwhile cause.”

The charity has a House at the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill) which opened in 1996 and has supported 10,000 families. Due to the closure and relocation of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill as it moves to form part of the new South Glasgow Hospitals Campus, Ronald McDonald House will relocate along with them in summer 2015.

CCG is the main contractor for the project and will be aided by the diverse structure of the Group utilising the company’s flagship off-site manufacturing facility to significantly reduce build time and minimise waste on the £4.5 million project.

Ronald McDonald House Glasgow chairman David Watson said: “The House at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill has been a lifeline to many families over the past 18 years and we hope to continue to provide the same vital service at our new location.”

Robert Calderwood, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde chief executive, added: “Ronald McDonald House provides a vital facility for the families of our young patients, particularly those who require a prolonged stay in hospital.  I am absolutely delighted that when the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children opens next summer, alongside the new South Glasgow University Hospital, we will in partnership with Ronald McDonald House be able once again to provide gold standard facilities for our patients and their families.”

To make a donation to the new Ronald McDonald House visit: www.justgiving.com/yorkhillfamilyhouse.

Anderson Bell Christie unveils Scotland’s first modular Housing Association development

prefabricated SIP construction

Architects Anderson Bell Christie and Adston Construction Group have introduced their innovative new housing development in Eyemouth, Berwickshire to the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).

The development is the first major application of pre-assembled modular SIPs (structural insulated panel) construction for social housing in Scotland. All 32 homes were pre-assembled in the factory and transported to site with 2 pre-built modules per house.

The trusses were then added on site allowing all properties to be wind-and-water-tight in just 22 days. The homes comprise two and three storey family homes, as well as cottage flats.

The bulk of the pre-fabrication work was carried out in a pop-up factory in Livingston, Central Scotland, where the homes were assembled into an entire module per floor, complete with windows, doors, finishing joinery and undercoat of paint. These were then transported to site, where they were lifted into place by a crane.

This method of construction ensures that the build is not delayed by weather and that quality control can be more strictly managed with reduced wastage. All homes are built to achieve full Silver Active Standard under Section 7 (Sustainability) of Scottish Building Standards.

Anderson Bell Christie and Adston are also working together on 46 homes on a second site in Duns using the same modular system.

Earlier this month, Adston joined forces with SFHA for a visit to the factory and to Berwickshire Housing Association’s site for its members.

Helen Forsyth, BHA chief executive, said: “With the bulk of the work conducted off-site at the Adston factory in Livingston the construction period is greatly reduced, with less disruption to nearby residents. Delays due to poor weather are largely avoided and the quality control is second to none.”

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Construction Leads – October 20th


Applicant: Michelin Tyre PLC (FAO: Bryan Bennett)
Planning Authority: Dundee
Details: South extension to existing Michelin factory buildings and external works including circulation routes and the earthworks to create a flood storage area
Location:  Michelin Tyres Plc, Baldovie Road, Dundee
Agent: Macleod Consulting (FAO: Alasdair MacLeod), 11 Castle Street, Dundee

Applicant: Ms Pam Butler – Network Rail, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Buchanan House, Glasgow
Planning Authority: Dundee
Details: Alter Tay Bridge by removing corroded steel and replacing all ballast boards with GRP, repainting upper spans dark grey (RAL 8050 ‘Dark Grey’) and replacing timber panels at Dundee end platforms with GRP panels.
Location: Tay Rail Bridge, Riverside Drive, Dundee
Agent: Applicant

Applicant: Baxter Property Development.
Planning Authority: Edinburgh
Details: Change of use from office (Class 4) to hostel (Class 7).
Location:  22 Fleshmarket Close, 199 High Street, Edinburgh
Agent: Scott Hobbs Planning, 24A Stafford Street, Edinburgh