(from left) Professor Angus JM Watson from NHS Highland, Professor Susan Craw from Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, Matt Stevenson from Carbon Dynamic, Lucy Fraser from Albyn Housing Society, Erin Grant from Albyn Housing Society, Douglas Russell from Albyn Housing Society

(from left) Professor Angus JM Watson from NHS Highland, Professor Susan Craw from Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, Matt Stevenson from Carbon Dynamic, Lucy Fraser from Albyn Housing Society, Erin Grant from Albyn Housing Society, Douglas Russell from Albyn Housing Society

Award-winning homes of the future showcased at Holyrood reception

A ground-breaking project that could enable people to live independently in their communities for longer and potentially predict and prevent episodes of ill health has been backed by a Highland MSP.

Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee, announced her support last night at a Holyrood reception showcasing the FitHome, which was hosted by Scotland’s Futures Forum, the Scottish Parliament’s futures think-tank.

A unique concept developed by Albyn Housing Society, modular construction firm Carbon Dynamic and NHS Highland, the Saltire Award-winning FitHome has been co-designed by partners, potential tenants and health and care professionals using virtual reality technology.

Central to the concept is the use of various levels of ambient sensors that capture data and predictive health analytics, allowing people to receive support at home in their local community. This, in turn, could help prevent hospital admissions and enable early hospital discharge, delivering enormous savings for health and care services.

The origins of the FitHome go back to 2008 when sadly, a tenant was found dead in his home, having lain unnoticed for over a year. Vowing to ensure this could never happen again, Albyn commissioned new research exploring potential solutions only to find that the ideal fix didn’t yet exist. As a result, the society decided to develop its own system that could be adopted across its growing portfolio of homes.

The pilot phase – 16 homes at Dalmore in Alness, Ross-shire – will provide proof of concept. The project concepts are being supported by a Scottish Government housing grant and funding from the Inverness and Highland City–Region Deal, whilst researchers at the University of the Highlands and Islands will develop the proof of concept research with financial support from the Digital Health and Care Institute.

The Data Lab – the Scottish Innovation Centre charged with generating economic, social and scientific value from big data – is also supporting the project by funding research into predicting falls, which is being led by Professor Susan Craw, an artificial intelligence expert at Robert Gordon University.

Other project leads include Matt Stevenson, managing director at Carbon Dynamic (the company behind Edinburgh’s Social Bite village), and Professor Angus JM Watson, director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highland.


Staycity takes Wilde concept to Edinburgh’s King’s Stables Road 

KING'S BRIDGEDublin-based Staycity Aparthotels has announced that its second Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity brand will be located at Edinburgh’s historic King’s Stables Road in the heart of the city centre.

Inspired by 19th century Irish literary giant Oscar Wilde, Wilde Aparthotels Edinburgh will, as its centrepiece, feature an arts facility incorporating a gallery and exhibition space. This will house art installations open for view to the general public.

The space will present an impressive frontage onto King’s Stables Road and will aim to profile the work of local artists.

Originally used as a medieval tiltyard for jousting tournaments in honour of James IV, King’s Stables Road later became home to the Royal horses. The historic site, currently owned by the City of Edinburgh Council, had formerly been used as offices, storage premises and workshops but has been vacant since 2009, although has more recently played host to an Arts Festival.

While the majority of the scheme is new-build, parts of the historic medieval wall will be incorporated into the build, reflecting its historic past.

Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity will offer apartments together with lounge, café, and gym facilities. The development, undertaken by Peveril Securities and Campus Development Management, forms part of a wider mixed-use scheme comprising residential and commercial units as well as student accommodation.

Work is scheduled to start at the end of 2017, with the apartments expected to open in the latter part of 2019.


‘Birthplace’ of Scotch whisky industry to be restored

Work is to begin next month to rescue the “birthplace” of the Scotch whisky industry from collapse.

Kennetpans near Alloa, Clackmannanshire, became Scotland’s largest distillery in Scotland in the 1770s and is credited with bringing the distillation of whisky from the farmyard to an industrial scale.

It was a huge exporter of malt spirit to the London Gin markets and the biggest grain whisky distillery of its time.

But what remains of the building – which housed Scotland’s first James Watt steam engine – has come close to complete ruination.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is due on site next month to stabilise the property – a scheduled monument of national importance – with some removal of vegetation already underway.

It is hoped to make Kennetpans, formerly owned by the Stein family dynasty, more accessible to the public and to illuminate this part of Scotland’s whisky heritage.

HES said that Kennetpans, although ruinous, was the “most complete survivor” of these once economically important east coast distilleries and was “unquestionably” a monument of national importance.

The preservation work has been possible due to funding from HES, Heritage Lottery Fund and the support of the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.


£2m Montrose cinema project takes step forward

The team behind a £2 million Montrose cinema project who paid £1 for the town’s former swimming pool have finally got the keys.

Chairman David Paton said it had taken years to get all the documents, business plans and feasibility studies completed, along with all the legal aspects.

Mr Paton said now they have ownership signed and sealed they can start to “seriously pursue larger funding opportunities and events” to fund the renovation into a cinema and arts centre.

About 60 volunteers from local firms, tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts have signed up to help strip the building back to its shell.


Mactaggart & Mickel submits second housing plans in England

PL100Housebuilder Mactaggart & Mickel Homes England has lodged reserved matters planning permission for 38 new homes at its four acre site in East Challow, near Oxford.

The five-star HBF rated housebuilder, headquartered in Glasgow, recently announced its move into the English housebuilding market with their submission of detailed planning permission for a site at Milton under Wychwood in Whitney.

East Challow is Mactaggart & Mickel Homes’ second planned housebuilding project in England, but the company already has a strong land bank here and has been involved in strategic land development south of the border since 2008. It has secured over 1200 acres across the north west and south west of England, with a further 250 acres under offer.

The housing development at East Challow currently has outline planning consent for 38 new homes and a decision on their detailed planning application is expected in late autumn.  The proposed development includes a mixture of 25, two to five bedroom private homes and 13, one to three bedroom affordable homes.


Drop-in and workshop sessions for new Borders Local Development Plan

A series of drop-in and workshop sessions will be held across the Borders to discuss the next Local Development Plan.

As part of the process for preparing a new Local Development Plan, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) must produce what is known as a Main Issues Report (MIR).

The MIR will set out the important issues for consideration, which will be fed into the Proposed Plan for the area.

A wide range of issues can be considered including identification of housing land, regenerating town centres, employment land provision, protection of greenspace, promotion of quality building design, wind farms and addressing climate change.

The council is inviting all interested parties to one of its drop-in sessions and workshops across eight towns and villages.

The drop-in sessions run from 2pm to 5pm and workshops begin at 6pm, unless otherwise stated.

The dates and venues are:

  • Thursday 21 September – Community Centre, Eyemouth
  • Tuesday 26 September – Town Hall, Kelso
  • Wednesday 27 September – Tesco Foyer, Galashiels (drop-in session)
  • Wednesday 27 September – Transport Interchange, Galashiels (workshop session)
  • Thursday 28 September – Burgh Hall, Peebles
  • Tuesday 3 October – Heritage Hub, Hawick
  • Thursday 5 October – Council Chamber, Duns
  • Tuesday 10 October – Pop-up Shop, 1 Tower Street, Selkirk (Drop-in session)
  • Tuesday 10 October – Community Connections, Back Row, Selkirk (workshop session)
  • Thursday 12 October – Council Chamber, Newtown St Boswells (workshop only 2pm to 4pm).

The workshop events will be able to accommodate up to 30 participants and will last around two hours.


Scotrenewables powers Orkney grid

Scotrenewables Tidal Power has achieved further impressive outputs from ongoing testing of its 2MW floating tidal generator, the SR2000 at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

The SR2000 produced more than 116 MWh in under a week of continuous generation which took place last month. Over a seven day period, the turbine met the electricity demand of nearly 7% of the entire Orkney Islands, with shorter periods where that contribution exceeded 25% of demand.