Drone image of the River Teviot through Hawick

Hawick Flood Scheme gains final approval

Councillors have given final approval to the Hawick Flood Protection Scheme.

Elected Members made a final decision to go ahead with the scheme at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council last month.

The project team will formally provide notification of this decision after the festive holidays, which will commence the six-week appeals period.

Provided no legal appeals are made during this period, the scheme will then become operative. It is currently assumed this will be in March 2018.

The final decision is another landmark for the scheme which will defend over 900 properties from a 1 in 75 year flood event once completed by the end of 2021.

The first session of the Community Vision Working Group which was held in Hawick Town Hall earlier this month allowed the public to find out how to get involved in the development of the detailed design of key scheme features.

Some excellent ideas were generated at the session and more members of the public are encouraged to get involved.

The group will work with the project team to look at how the local landscape can be tailored to meet the needs of the community once the flood protection scheme is completed.

A Traffic Management Working Group will also be set up with key community stakeholders, focusing on minimising potential impact to traffic and pedestrians during the construction period.

Both groups will look to draw on local knowledge and use the collaborative working model that has been so successful for several other Council projects, achieving multiple benefits and opportunities for the local community at key areas. The Community Vision Working Group will initially focus on Common Haugh, Little Haugh, Mansfield Road, Duke Street, Weensland and Volunteer Park/Wilton Park area.

 

Restaurant and flats plan for Aberdeenshire hotel

Plans have been unveiled to convert a vacant Aberdeenshire hotel into a restaurant and flats.

The Station Hotel in Hatton sits alongside the A90 Peterhead to Aberdeen road and had been operating as a takeaway until 2016. The five-bedroom guesthouse features a commercial kitchen, cellars and owners’ accommodation, which has lain empty for five years.

The premises were put up for sale by the previous owner and purchased by Ellon-based developers Andrew and Laurence Davidson in the summer.

Now they have revealed they want to bring it back to life by opening a small diner and the creating four flats.

The restaurant would have seating for 40 people and there would be a waiting area for takeaway food.

The four flats, spread over each floor of the building, would range from two and three bedrooms.

The developers are also hoping to upgrade the car park and install signage on the A90, although that would be subject to approval from Transport Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council.

The council will consider the plans later this year.

 

Half of Scotland’s homes need repaired to tackle fuel poverty, say Greens

Fuel poverty will not be eliminated in Scotland until the government takes action to fix the one in two homes that have issues with weather-tightness and structural stability, a Green MSP has warned.

Andy Wightman MSP said it is unacceptable for ministers to ignore the latest Scottish House Condition Survey, which shows that 48% of homes have “disrepair to critical elements”.

The Lothian representative called on finance secretary Derek Mackay not to turn down the Greens’ budget demand of a move towards 70% of capital spend on low-carbon infrastructure projects including energy efficient housing and sustainable transport.

Mr Wightman said academics and interest groups, including Scotland’s Low Carbon Task Force, are calling for the 70% spend figure in order to prevent dangerous climate change.

He added: “At this time of year we are all aware of the importance of keeping warm at home. Whilst we welcome the fact that overall fuel poverty rates have declined in Scotland, we must keep in mind the complex factors that contribute to fuel poverty in the first place. It is simply unacceptable that 48 per cent of homes in Scotland have disrepair to critical elements that further cause fuel poverty.

“We need to take action fast and I’m calling on the Scottish Government to invest 70% of its infrastructure budget in low carbon projects to make homes warm and watertight while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

Perth sees sharpest fall in house prices across Britain

House prices fell more sharply in Perth than in any other major town or city across Britain in 2017, according to new research.

The average price of properties in the “Fair City” plummeted by five figures across the past 12 months.

Halifax figures showed a drop of more than 5% in Perth house prices in 2017. The average property is now worth £180,687.

Paisley in Renfrewshire was the third lowest performing area, with the average property now worth £123,665, a fall of £4,593, or 3.6%.

Dunfermline was placed joint fifth lowest in the list. Prices there decreased by £3,535, or 2.2%, over the period, with the average property worth £158,442 by the year’s end.

Aberdeen, which has struggled to cope with the economic downturn and falling oil prices in recent years, also made the bottom ten, coming in at eighth place.

Although the average value of properties in the city stands at £201,270, that represents a fall of £2,155, or 1.1%, over the course of the year.

Halifax’s managing director Russell Galley said the majority of towns where house prices fell were in Scotland and Yorkshire.

 

Funding to allow communities to have say in designs for their area

Community projects from Argyll and Bute to Shetland will share around £312,000 to regenerate their neighbourhoods, local government minister Kevin Stewart has announced.

As part of the Making Places Initiative, 19 projects will receive funding to bring people together to agree priorities for their area and shape future planning and design.

The funding will support events that bring local people together with design professionals to identify how their places and communities can be improved.

The 19 projects awarded funding include workshops to develop physical and environmental improvements to the Woodside area of North Glasgow, creating a development plan for Scalloway in Shetland and a plan to improve a shopping centre in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.

Further details of the Making Places Initiative and how to apply for support is available online.

 

Late year rise in £1m home sales

Scottish law firm Harper Macleod has highlighted a surge in the number of million pound-plus house sales it advised on in Scotland in the second half of 2017, following reports that numbers had dropped significantly in the first half of the year.

The firm’s Private Client & Residential Property specialists acted in the sale or purchase of eight homes for more than £1 million between July and December 2017 – a 60% increase on the same period in 2016.

A recent report into million pound house sales in Scotland showed that they had dropped by more than a third in the first half of the 2017, with 53 sold across the country in that period. This was the largest fall of anywhere in the UK, with observers predicting that the decline in high-value transactions would continue into the New Year.

However, Harper Macleod’s figures showed clients bucking the trend that showed a 35% decrease in Scotland at a time when the overall UK market recorded a drop of only 1% over the same period.

 

St Andrews still home to Scotland’s most expensive street

The home of golf has retained the title of having Scotland’s most expensive street, according to research from Bank of Scotland.

Golf Place, which is a short walk from St Andrews’ famous Old Course has an average house price of £2,179,000.

Golf Place is in a great location near the 18th hole of the world famous venue and has magnificent views of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and West Sands beach. It is also within walking distance of most of the major attractions in St Andrews.

Dominating the top 20 table, Edinburgh still has the highest number of expensive streets in Scotland. Aberdeen now only accounts for four of the prestigious locations and Glasgow now has five compared to three last year.

Edinburgh’s most expensive residential street is still Ettrick Road with an average house price of £1,899,000. Ettrick Road also retains its place as second most expensive street in Scotland. Regent Terrace, which sits within the New and Old Town is the second most expensive street (£1,371,000) in Edinburgh and Heriot Row (£1,334,000) remains the third most expensive.

In Aberdeen, Deeview Road South has taken first place with an average house price of £1,232,000. Rubislaw Den South is the second most expensive street in Aberdeen at £1,224,000 with Friarsfield Way coming in third (£1,132,000).

Meanwhile in Glasgow, newly crowned most expensive street Capelrig Lane boasts a price tag of £1,550,000 which is £533,000 more than last year’s most expensive street, Baroness Drive (£1,017,000). Capelrig Lane comprises only seven individually designed residences with great links to a host of private sporting clubs such as Mearns Castle Golf Academy and Whitecraigs Tennis Club.

St. Andrew’s is now the only location outside of the top three cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen that appears in the top 20. Milltimber, six miles west of Aberdeen and close to top performing Cults Academy is the next location outside of the top three cities at number 25 in the list costing an average of £964,000.

Grange Road, next door to Earlsferry Links golf club in Elie, Fife is next on the list (46th) outside of the top three cities, costing an average of £878,000.

The city of Dundee doesn’t make an appearance until much later in the list. The first street in the city, and the only entry for Dundee in this year’s research, is Braeside which is the 185th most expensive street in Scotland at £631,000.

Across Scotland, there are 93 streets with an average price tag of over £750,000.

 

Edinburgh playground project gets £10,000 festive present from developer

A city developer brought Christmas cheer to an Edinburgh school when he announced he would double the £5000 donation he had already made to assist with playground improvements.

Friends of Tollcross Primary welcomed the festive generosity from George Stevenson, chairman of GSS Developments Ltd, when he visited the project with Cinderella panto stars from the nearby King’s Theatre.

GSS Developments is currently onsite a short distance from the school constructing the 38,600 sq ft office building 2 Semple Street which will help alleviate Edinburgh’s chronic shortage of Grade A office space.

The company earlier donated £5000 to help start phase one of playground improvements after an appeal from Mairi Bannerman of the Friends of Tollcross Primary School.

During the visit Mr Stevenson announced that to mark 50 years in business in 2018 he will donate £50,000 to various charities and has earmarked another £5000 for the playground project.

Mr Stevenson said he was delighted to see the progress made at the playground and that his company’s contribution was making a difference.

The 2 Semple Street development is due to complete in July and will be the only Grade A office building to complete in Edinburgh in 2018.

 

Sky’s the limit for Blood Bikes after roof tile manufacturer donation

Andrew Hayward (centre) and the Lochmaben team presenting the cheque to Blood Bikes

Staff at Lochmaben’s Russell Roof Tiles have pulled out all the stops this year and raised an amazing £32,500 to help keep local vital services going. They have danced, hiked, run and quizzed their way to raising the cash during 2017.

The roof tile manufacturer, employs a team of 70 on an 11-acre Halleaths site, one of three manufacturing sites in the UK, the other two are in Burton on Trent.

Russell’s monies raised will be split equally between Dumfries & Galloway Blood Bikes and Shropshire Staffordshire Cheshire Blood Bikes. Both are volunteer-led, providing lifesaving medical supplies across NHS foundations, by transporting vital blood products, organs for transplant and other life- critical supplies to local hospitals via motorbike.

Located in Dumfries, Moffat and Stranraer, South West Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Blood Bikes is a charity that delivers essential blood samples and urgent medical supplies to support the NHS, between three hospitals and other healthcare sites in the area.

D & G Blood Bikes was set up in 2015 and now has nine bikes and 75 volunteers, it’s financed solely by charitable donations and doesn’t receive any government funding, there are no paid staff so every penny raised is for the benefit of the patients. Since it was launched the charity has completed almost 1800 urgent runs, to help save lives.

This takes Russell’s total fundraising efforts for the blood bikes to £56,000 across 2016 and 2017. Last year generous Russells’ 170 staff at its three sites and suppliers raised an impressive £24,000 – smashing the original £20,000 target and enabling both charities to buy a much-needed new motorbike each.