Inverness Justice Centre designsGroundwork to begin on Inverness Justice Centre

Groundwork is due to begin today on Scotland’s first purpose-built justice centre in Inverness.

The news comes after confirmation of a demolition warrant for a derelict bus garage on the site at the Longman industrial estate following approval by Highland Council.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) is vacating the castle complex for the new £23 million facility, a move welcomed by city leaders who hope the castle will become a full-blown tourist attraction as the public currently have minimal access.

As well as housing six courtrooms, the new V-shaped complex will include support for victims and witnesses of sexual violence, domestic abuse and child abuse and will mean the return of the High Court to Inverness for the first time since 2013.

spokesman for the SCTS said: “The enabling works package is due to commence and we’re on progress to start construction in autumn with completion in summer, 2019.”

However, it has also emerged that victims and witnesses in Skye and Lochaber will have to make round trips of up to eight hours as trials will be conducted in Inverness.


Planning submitted for luxury villa in Ayr

A planning application was submitted last week to South Ayrshire Council for a luxury villa on the outskirts of Ayr.

The application was submitted by LMA Architects after a pre-application consultation with the council.

The 5,000sq.ft dwelling, for a private client, is situated in a secluded sloping site and comprises three storeys to the rear and two to the front.

The dwelling has been designed to maximise light through the public spaces and deep into the centre of the villa with feature windows and a central roof light.


Restoration of historic Inverness hall completed

A historic building that lay derelict for more than 20 years has been restored in a £1.2m, seven-year community-led project.

Merkinch Welfare Hall in Inverness dates to 1914 and has been brought back into use by Merkinch Enterprise.

The upper level is to be used as a community support centre by charity the Merkinch Partnership and the ground floor will house Inverness Boxing Club.

Last month, the hall’s unusual outdoor clock was fully restored.

The drum clock was made in Victorian times from a copper barrel and later installed on Merkinch Welfare Hall in 1931.

The Inverness Common Good Fund owns the clock and paid for it to be restored to how it used to look in its heyday.


BakerHicks appoints James Howles as sector director for rail

James Howles

James Howles

Multidisciplinary design and engineering business BakerHicks has appointed James Howles as sector director for rail.

James, who has held senior positions within the rail sector for the last 14 years, is tasked with further expanding and diversifying the company’s rail portfolio, which includes some the UK’s largest and most complex overground and underground rail projects.

James joins BakerHicks from SNC-Lavalin (formerly Interfleet), where he was director for rail infrastructure with a particular focus on the electrification market. He has been working in the rail industry since joining AMEC-Spie (now Colas Rail) in 2003, subsequently going on to deliver a number of complex, high value rail projects for White Young Green and AECOM, both in the UK and Europe.

BakerHicks was previously Morgan Sindall Professional Services.


LMA Architects wins Business Excellence Award 

ACCI-Platinum-Dinner-10-03-17-95-960x640LMA Architects were last week awarded the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for the service category at the Chamber’s Platinum Dinner which took place at Trump Turnberry.

The studio were beaten finalists in 2016 but managed to go one better and lift the award this year despite some stiff completion from Microtech and Russell Consulting.

The award, sponsored by EDF Energy, Hillhouse Quarry Group, West Sound, Ayr Audi, Spirit Aerosystems was presented by Nicola Sykes of the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce.

Principal Stephen McGhee said: “I am delighted that the hard work that the team have put in over the last few years has been recognised. We have made a commitment to continual improvement across all aspects of the business and to win this award on such an important night for the Chamber of Commerce makes it more special.”


Aberdeen house sales up though prices continue to fall

The volume of house sales across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has increased for the first time in three years, though prices continue to fall, the Press and Journal reports.

The number of houses sold in the first ten weeks of 2017 has increased by nearly 7 per cent from 940 last year to 1,002 this year, according to ASPC data.

The average price of houses sold over the period in 2017 was £203,725, compared to £207,017 for the same period in 2016.


Street Lighting cleans up on carbon emissions

SLTA street lighting replacement programme aimed at giving Scotland’s councils the power to save £1.2 billion in energy costs is gaining greater momentum as nearly 30% of Scotland’s 900,000 street lights have been converted to energy-efficient LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes).

Following the launch of the Scottish Futures Trust’s (SFT) Street Lighting Toolkit in 2015, Scotland’s councils have embraced the energy efficiency and low carbon initiative and invested over £138 million in LED lanterns and new lamp posts. A further £200m is expected to be invested over the next four years.

The award-winning toolkit has been designed to allow local authorities calculate exactly how short the payback period will be using savings generated from installing the energy-efficient LED street lights. The toolkit also works out how many tonnes of CO2 will be saved.

Over 250 organisations have requested the SFT Street Lighting Toolkit, many of them coming from abroad, some as far afield as Brazil, Mongolia, New Delhi, Japan and Israel.

SFT’s street lighting programme is funded by Scottish Government.


Hardies marks retirement of two employees in Perth

(from left) Alan Chappell, Gordon Butt, Colin McNeill, Celia McNeill, Malcolm MacKillop, Sheryll Stewart, Matt Kilburn & Debi Roberts

(from left) Alan Chappell, Gordon Butt, Colin McNeill, Celia McNeill, Malcolm MacKillop, Sheryll Stewart, Matt Kilburn & Debi Roberts

Hardies Property & Construction Consultants has marked the retirement of two long-standing employees in Perth with almost 60 years of combined service with a presentation and dinner as an expression of gratitude for valued contribution to the growth of the firm.

Malcolm MacKillop, senior quantity surveyor, and Colin McNeill, senior building surveyor, had both been based at Hardies’ Perth office for 43 and 15 years respectively.


RTPI Awards for Research Excellence 2017 open for entry

2016 RTPI Awards for Research Excellence winners

2016 RTPI Awards for Research Excellence winners

The 2017 RTPI Awards for Research Excellence are now open for entries of exemplary planning research from all RTPI accredited planning schools and planning consultancies in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and internationally.

The Awards comprise five categories:

  • Academic Award
  • Early Career Researcher Award
  • Student Award
  • Planning Consultancy Award
  • Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement

Entries for the Awards close on 19 May 2017.

The RTPI also invites RTPI accredited planning schools to nominate one judge for the Awards. The nomination needs to be received by 19 May.

The list of 2016 winners and commended entries are here.