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Official Receiver makes 377 Carillion staff redundant after firm’s collapse

The collapse of construction and outsourcing giant Carillion has resulted in the loss of nearly 380 jobs, the Official Receiver announced today.

The body in charge of liquidating the firm said 377 people will be made redundant follow the contractor’s demise, though more than 900 jobs have been protected. It is unclear how many of the jobs lost will be in Scotland, though reports have suggested that it could be as many as 29.

Carillion’s projects north of the border include the £745 million Aberdeen bypass, the £23m extension of platforms at Edinburgh Waverley station and the £11.6m electrification of the Shotts railway line.

A spokesman for the Official Receiver said: “As part of the ongoing liquidation of the Carillion group I am pleased we have been able to safeguard the jobs of 919 employees today.

“Most staff are transferring on existing or similar terms and I will continue to facilitate this wherever possible as we work to find new providers for Carillion’s other contracts.

“Despite best efforts it has not been possible to secure the jobs of 377 staff, who will be made redundant.

“Those affected will be entitled to make a claim for statutory redundancy payments.”

NHS Grampian gives formal approval for £163m Aberdeen health centres

The outline business case for the construction of two health facilities in Aberdeen has been agreed, though the final cost has risen by £13.7 million due to “design complexities and site conditions”.

The NHS Grampian Board gave its formal approval yesterday to the project to deliver the new Baird Family Hospital and ANCHOR Centre at the city’s Foresterhill Health Campus.

But while the project was proposed to be delivered for £150m when it was initially announced in August 2015, the Board now expects the development to cost £163m.

A report which was considered by the Board prior to its approval stated: “The previously reported project budget was £150m. As a result of design complexities and site conditions identified during the preparation of the outline business case, this has increased to £163.7m. This increase is required to meet the clinical brief, deal with the site conditions and deliver world-class buildings for clinical reasons.”

The significant milestone will allow the project to be formally considered by the Capital Investment Group, Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorate, later this month.

The new facilities will help modernise patient care and facilities at the Foresterhill Health Campus, which is Europe’s biggest healthcare site, and is part of NHS Grampian’s £300m investment in new or upgraded facilities across the North East.

NHS Grampian project director Jackie Bremner and Graham Construction regional director Gary Holmes shake on the deal – surrounded by senior colleagues from their organisations

Graham Construction was selected to develop the two facilities in December 2016.

Gary Holmes, Scottish managing director for Graham Construction, said: “We are privileged to be working with NHS Grampian and its stakeholders in the development of the Foresterhill Health Campus and in equipping it to offer the highest quality of care to the region for years to come. This is a major step forward.”

Jackie Bremner, who is the project director for NHS Grampian, said: “This is a very exciting and important milestone which will allow the project to move one step closer to becoming a reality. It is also the result of 3 years of hard work which has involved hundreds of people including clinical staff, patients, members of the public, designers and construction colleagues.

“It is starting to feel real now – in a year or so these magnificent new facilities, which will benefit patients and their families for many years to come, will have begun to take shape.”

She continued: “Over the next few months work to develop the detailed design and construction plans with our construction partner Graham Construction and their design team will be completed ready for the main construction programme to commence in the spring of 2019.

“Clinical staff, patients and members of the public have been involved from the outset and we hope they will continue to help us shape the design of facilities and services over the life of the project.”

She also said that services in a number of existing buildings are relocating elsewhere on the Foresterhill Health Campus to allow these facilities to be built.

“In advance of the main construction works, which should begin in the spring of 2019, preparatory work to demolish existing buildings, road realignment and a range of service diversions is expected to begin in the autumn,” she said.

The services delivered from the Eye Out-patient Department are relocating to refurbished accommodation in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) in the summer of 2018.

The Foresterhill Health Centre is moving to a new purpose built health centre to the west of the Campus, being developed by hubCo and due to open in the spring of 2018.

The breast screening service moved last month into temporary accommodation in ARI until they move into their new accommodation in the Baird Family Hospital in 2021.

Jackie added: “These moves, along with the development of the Baird Family Hospital and the ANCHOR Centre, will change the Westburn Road face of the Foresterhill Health Campus in Aberdeen and support the delivery of modern, high quality health services for the people of Grampian and the north of Scotland for many years to come.”

SEPA raises flooding concerns over 700-home Govan Graving Docks plan

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has lodged an objection to plans for more than 700 homes at Govan Graving Docks warning that the new properties would be at risk of flooding if the project went ahead.

ZM Architecture and New City Vision unveiled plans in March to bring the site back into use after 40 years of dereliction with the creation of 750 homes in a series of buildings ranging from four to 15 storeys in height.

Following a public consultation, plans for the area were updated in November to include up to 800 homes, a hotel, shops, restaurants and office space.

The proposal extends the Clyde Walkway at an area currently closed to the public and there will be heritage centre telling the story of the docks.

However environmental agency SEPA has warned that “significant parts of the site” are within the ‘high probability’ flood extent.

They added: “We are also concerned about the potential increased flood risk to surrounding people and properties as a consequence of introducing buildings into the flood plain.

“We therefore object in principle to the planning application on the grounds that the proposal may put buildings and persons at flood risk contrary to Scottish Planning Policy and our position is unlikely to change.”

The Clyde Docks Preservation Initiative (CDPI) welcome the objection which it said echoes its own “very serious concerns” about the unsuitability of the flood risk assessment and the proposed mitigation measures in the housing proposals.

It said: “Objections have already been lodged by Historic Environment Scotland and West of Scotland Archaeology Service. While it is clear neither Scottish Water nor Scottish Natural Heritage received sufficient information to arrive at a fully informed view of the proposals.

“We cannot envisage that Planning Officers would recommend that the Planning Applications Committee contravene the advice of statutory consultees by approving the NCV Ltd planning application.”

Jedburgh intergenerational community campus wins government approval

Plans for a new intergenerational community campus in Jedburgh are gathering pace with a series of positive announcements.

The Scottish Government has this week given the go-ahead to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to build the campus, and formally close the existing nursery, primary, secondary and specialist provision in the town.

The procedural decision by the government follows SBC planning committee’s approval of the planning application in January.

Both announcements mean that there are no legislatory barriers to the start of work on the Jedburgh intergenerational community campus which will replace Jedburgh Grammar, Howdenburn and Parkside primary schools, and will be located on land at Hartrigge Park.

The campus will have provision for nursery, primary and secondary school children, and community facilities will include a multi-use games area, 2G hockey pitch, 3G sports pitch, running track, external changing pavilion and rural skills area.

The project has seen SBC team up with development partner hub South East Scotland and Stallan-Brand Architects, while BAM Construction is the appointed contractor.

The funding for the new campus was confirmed by Deputy First Minister John Swinney in August 2017, as one of four projects to share £28 million from the latest phase of the Scottish Government’s £1.8 billion ‘Schools for the Future’ programme.

As a result of these approvals, site clearance work will begin, with tree specialists carefully removing a small number of trees affected by the plans over the coming weeks.

Following this, some advance groundworks will start in spring and once contracts are signed in the summer, the council will mark the official start of construction on site, with the new school being complete by March 2020.

Councillor Shona Haslam, SBC’s leader, said: “I am delighted we are making good progress towards opening a new intergenerational community campus for Jedburgh in 2020.

“The new facility will serve the whole community, from 2 to 102 year olds, with further education opportunities and community facilities for the town.

“This project has involved a huge amount of work by various stakeholders, with the vast majority of local people taking part in the extensive consultations supporting the plans.

“This is an innovative scheme to delivery nursery, primary and secondary provision simultaneously as well as significant regeneration benefits to Jedburgh.

“Health and wellbeing, employment, lifelong learning, culture, tourism and high quality collaboration space for local businesses with high quality digital connectivity are just some of the benefits this new campus will offer.”

Scott Brown, projects director for hub South East, said: “It’s great to see the plans for this new campus for Jedburgh progressing at pace and we look forward to working with Scottish Borders Council and our contractor BAM Construction to deliver a facility which supports a modern learning experience, fit for the needs of all generations.

“We’re also keen to ensure that the project delivers real community benefits during its construction and we will be offering a range of opportunities locally, so that individuals and small businesses in the Borders can benefit from the investment being made in this fantastic new development.”

Almondvale West Retail Park set for £3.5m transformation

Retailer Next is to open a new store at Almondvale West Retail Park as part of a wider £3.5 million improvement programme of the site.

The new store, which is scheduled to open in early 2019, will see Next more than double its original size at the retail park, which is located adjacent to one of Scotland’s largest covered shopping venues, The Centre.

It is expected to create 14 additional jobs when it opens, and up to 50 jobs during construction of both the new stores and the wider improvement programme.

This programme of upgrades including new shopfronts, cladding, pavements and wayfinding. Car parks will also be resurfaced, with the improvement works to start this month.

Patrick Robbertze, centre director at The Centre, Livingston, said: “We are delighted to be announcing a new store with Next which will help transform the park and attract new shoppers.”

“Our investment plans are part of our ongoing commitment to deliver a fresh, enjoyable shopping experience for our loyal customers and also for those who travel afar to visit our mall and we are confident they will be absolutely delighted with the finished look and improved retail offering.”

Gordon Anderson, project architect at 3DReid, said: “3DReid has sought to provide a distinct and high quality appearance to Almondvale West. The extensive structural glass façade to unit 1A and the faceted cladding to Units 2-5 present a significant aesthetic improvement to the fabric which distinguishes Almondvale West from the adjacent architecture and connect it visually with The Centre.”

Maxi Construction has been appointed to undertake the construction works.

Confederation of Construction Specialists calls for immediate abolishment of cash retentions

The UK government should not wait until 2025 to abolish the “outdated and detrimental practice” of cash retentions in the construction sector, according to the Confederation of Construction Specialists.

While applauding the intention of the Construction Products Association, CECA and Build UK, who are calling on the government to abolish the practice by 2025, the trade body said that it does not agree that waiting that long is warranted.

The Confederation said: “Abolishment of this outdated and detrimental practice should be immediate. Therefore, we call on the government to abolish retentions immediately and to introduce the appropriate legislation to do so.

“The retention issue has been ‘kicked further down the road’ for over 50 years and this needs to stop. The Banwell report (1962) recommended the abolition of retentions, the Latham report (1994) recommended that cash retentions should be protected in a trust account, and the government’s own Business Select Committees (2002 & 2008) recommended phasing out cash retentions. There are already alternatives available for cash retentions such as Retention Bonds, Performance Bonds and Sub-Contractors Collateral Warranties.

“Additionally, Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) are already being widely used on government projects to assure certainty and securement of payment. Therefore, making the use of PBAs on all suitable projects mandatory could be a first interim step to improve the industry’s payment culture.”

The specialist trade body highlighted a Cabinet Office Briefing document back in 2012, called Project Bank Accounts, in which the then Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: “We are leading the way with this innovative approach to paying smaller suppliers, and where better to do so than in an industry where more than 99 per cent of businesses are SMEs. Project Bank Accounts means SMEs will be paid faster, freeing them of the burden of juggling with their cash and allowing them to focus on expanding their businesses instead of chasing payments.”

The document added: “PBAs not only assure certainty and security of payment; they also ensure that payment is made promptly. It is estimated that if fully implemented PBAs can deliver almost 1% savings in the cost of construction projects.”

Major improvement works for Provost Skene’s House

Provost Skene’s House (PSH) is to undergo a major renovation after Aberdeen City Council’s agreed steps to conserve and upgrade the historic building.

PSH, which dates from 1545, is being redeveloped under the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) as a new visitor attraction that will tell the story of local people who helped transform the wider world.

In advancing the £1.85 million project last year, a comprehensive condition survey had established the need for a range of additional work to the building itself.

At its meeting on December 6 last year, the council’s finance, policy and resources committee had asked for more detail so that the conservation work – as distinct from the work to refurbish PSH as a new attraction – could be thoroughly scoped, costed and programmed.

The agreed works, which will be carried out by specialist contractors, will include:

  • Re-slating the roof
  • Repairing failing mortar joints
  • Replacing rotten timbers, damaged stones and cracked window panes
  • Removing algal growth from stones
  • Repainting the exterior and interior
  • Re-plastering

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader and convener of the finance, policy and resources committee, said: “Provost Skene’s House promises to be a fantastic new attraction under the City Centre Masterplan but as a first step we want to renovate and upgrade this iconic building.

“The works agreed will ensure this much-loved heritage asset gets the attention it needs and is safeguarded for generations to come while being given new purpose for the 21st Century.”

Councillor Marie Boulton, the council’s CCMP spokesperson, said: “Provost Skene’s House will provide a link not just to the past but to the future by celebrating Aberdeen’s and the North-east’s enduring global influence.”

In all, the stories of more than 100 remarkable people – ranging from sporting champions to entrepreneurs to Nobel laureates – will be showcased in the Guestrow building.

The ground floor will become home to a “Hall of Heroes”. Chosen by the public during a poll last year, the line-up will include Denis Law and Scotland the What?, the two most recent recipients of the Freedom on the City.

The attraction is expected to open in winter 2019/20. The plan is to refresh the PSH line-up in the years ahead with input from the public.

PSH had previously housed a series of period rooms, furnished to show how people lived in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. It closed to allow for the construction of the Marischal Square hotel, office and leisure complex, which was completed in autumn 2017.

Affordable housing scheme completes in South Ayrshire

(from left) Colin Campbell (site manager, Keepmoat Homes), George Laing (clerk of works, Hanover Scotland), Mark Farey (director of asset management, Hanover Scotland), Cllr Philip Saxton (housing & customer services portfolio holder, South Ayrshire Council), Jim Kennedy (architectural manager, Keepmoat Homes), Kirsty Stillie (sales executive, Keepmoat Homes), Michael Harding (contracts manager, Keepmoat Homes), Jim Curran (development officer, Hanover Scotland)

Keepmoat Homes has been working in partnership with Hanover Scotland to deliver 10 affordable homes as part of the new 42 house Lyons Gate development.

The development at Heathfield Road, which received £763,000 investment from the Scottish Government through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, comprises of eight cottage flats and two semi-detached houses for rent, and responds to local demand for quality and affordable housing in the town.

Sandy McBride, regional managing director for Keepmoat Homes, describes how the extensive regeneration of the area has been a key part in attracting interest from local people.

He said: “Before we even began the construction of new homes at Lyons Gate, we invested heavily in ground improvement works and consulting with the local community to ensure we delivered the right product.  Over recent years the demand for new housing in the area has continued to increase and we are pleased to be working in partnership with Hanover Housing Association and South Ayrshire Council to be able to meet this demand.

“It was important that we not only brought new homes for sale to the market, but we incorporated social housing within the scheme, as this underpins our commitment to transforming communities and supporting customers at all ends of the market.

“With our sales office now open – we encourage people to drop in and take a look at the new homes we have on offer and get an exclusive glimpse of the lifestyle available at Lyons Gate.”

Mark Farey, director of asset management at Hanover Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with South Ayrshire Council and Keepmoat Homes to bring modern, affordable homes to the area. This is a perfect example of how Hanover Scotland is working closely with local authorities to ensure Scotland delivers on its ambitious affordable housing target, providing high quality affordable homes suited to the needs of the local community.”

Councillor Philip Saxton, housing and customer services portfolio holder for South Ayrshire Council, added: “These homes are a fine example of what can be achieved through partnership working. South Ayrshire Council will continue to work closely with Hanover Scotland and other Registered Social Landlords to provide affordable housing that meets the needs of our communities.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I am delighted to see the completion of the Lyons Gate development, which will bring great benefits to the area. It will not only provide high quality, affordable accommodation, but breathe new life into the community.

“Supported through our Affordable Housing Supply Programme, it is a great example of how the Scottish Government is helping provide the right homes, in the right places, and to a standard anyone would be proud to call home – a core part of our drive to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country.

“We are committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes over this Parliament – backed by £3 billion of investment. As this project shows, working together with housing associations and others, I am confident that target can be achieved.”

Building Briefs – February 2nd

National Trust for Scotland launches Hill House ‘box’ appeal

The National Trust for Scotland has today kicked-off its urgent multi-million pound appeal to save the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed the Hill House in Helensburgh, one of the most ambitious and important fundraising drives in the conservation charity’s history.

During the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth this year, the National Trust for Scotland is planning to build a “box” around the iconic property whose sandstone structure is dissolving under its cement render. The box will shield the Hill House from the rain, allowing the building to dry out and for crucial conservation work to take place.

Supporting the launch of the “Box: The Hill House Appeal”, CYBG, owner of Clydesdale Bank, has donated the original printing plate used to produce its £100 note, which features Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The plate was used to print 200,000 notes, which entered circulation in 2009. The plate and a £100 specimen bank note have been mounted in a presentation frame and will be auctioned off later this year with all proceeds going towards the campaign.

This weekend, every National Trust for Scotland member will receive a letter asking them to support the appeal, the first time the conservation charity has rallied its entire membership for a single project. Anyone can back the appeal and donations can be made to save the Hill House at the Trust’s campaign page.

Ahead of the launch of the appeal, the Trust has already secured £3 million towards the construction of the box, however, another £1.5m is still required by the end of Spring 2018 to reach the overall target. Assembly of the box is expected to begin in June this year, protecting the property from another winter of snow, rain, wind, and bitterly cold temperatures.


Funding in place for transformational Inverness rail station upgrade 

Delegates attending a major rail conference have been told that funding for the first phase of a major refurbishment of Inverness railway station is in place and work should be under way by late summer of this year.

Progress on the “transformational” project was reported by Peter O’Connell, ScotRail’s head of commercial development, in a presentation to the annual rail conference staged by HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, in Inverness on Monday.

Mr O’Connell said early investment would see improvements to Station Square, with tender documents issued to prospective contractors in the Spring.

Later phases would involve major improvements to the two other station entrances – on Strothers Lane, leading to Inverness Bus Station, and on Falcon Square, leading to the Eastgate Shopping Centre. This work was earmarked for Spring of 2019.  He indicated that the total investment in the railway station, including improvements to the main concourse and new retail units, would be in the region of £6 million.


Creative lighting strategy agreed for Aberdeen

A creative lighting strategy and implementation plan has been approved by Aberdeen City Council.

Aberdeen in Colour, a City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) project, aims to help create a heart for a “global city” by illuminating the streetscape, landmarks, waterfronts and civic spaces in novel ways to add character and identity at night.

The strategy and implementation plan was drawn up by award-winning lighting design consultancy Steensen Varming.

As well as containing general design guidelines, it proposes individual schemes for the Castlegate; Union Street; Belmont Street; Langstane Place; Correction Wynd; Golden Square; Wellington and Victoria Bridges; the banks of the River Dee; St Nicholas Kirk; The Green; Donald’s Way; and Adelphi Lane.

The five-year implementation plan for the dozen schemes has been costed at £6.5 million.


Argyll Community Housing Association appoints new director of investment & regeneration

Kirsteen McGinn, director of investment & regeneration and Alastair MacGregor, chief executive

Kirsteen McGinn has joined Argyll Community Housing Association as director of investment & regeneration.

Kirsteen will have responsibility for the Association’s capital and repairs investment in its 5,150 homes and the 250 unit new build programme, as well as being a member of the senior management team.

Joining ACHA from Maryhill Housing Association in Glasgow, Kirsteen has previously worked at River Clyde Homes, Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association and Shettleston Housing Association. Kirsteen brings 20 years’ experience in the sector to her new role.

ACHA’s annual investment programme for capital works, repairs and new build amounts to £17 million.


Community spirit built at new East Kilbride council homes

Council officers are building community spirit as well as houses at a new development in East Kilbride.

The 16-home South Lanarkshire Council development at Rattray Drive, East Kilbride, was completed last summer and comprises a mix of four semi-detached houses and 12 cottage flats.

With generous space standards and high-quality kitchens and bathrooms, the new homes incorporate renewable technologies such as solar panels, ensuring energy efficient homes which are cheaper to run, benefitting both the environment and household budgets.

To help this work in building a new community, a welcome meeting for the residents at Rattray Drive was held at Blackbraes Hall, Calderwood, in December.

Hosted by Donald Gray, the meeting provided an opportunity for the new residents to get together as a new community as well as providing a range of information and advice on their new homes.

In addition, station manager Eddie Kelly from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service raised awareness on safety measures and fire prevention in the home and constable Emma Scott, from Police Scotland, ensured that residents were familiar with home security measures and crime prevention.

Housing staff from South Lanarkshire Council also encouraged tenant participation and empowered residents to be part of the overall continuous development and management of their new community, and were delighted to receive feedback from residents that they were very happy with both the welcome meeting and the quality of their new homes.


Stirling most affordable city in UK to buy a home

Stirling is the most affordable city in the whole of the UK, while Perth has seen the biggest improvement in terms of home affordability in Scotland over the last five years, according to the latest Bank of Scotland research.

The research showed that Stirling is the most affordable city in the whole of the UK when comparing average house price to average wages. The average house price in Stirling is now £186,084, which is 4.03 times local average earnings. This is below the overall average ratio in Scotland of 5.35 and the UK average of 7.20.

The average house price in Perth has risen by 11 per cent to £181,329 in the last five years, lower than the average of all other Scottish cities which increased by 23 per cent to £190,250).

This also means that Perth is the only city in Scotland where homes are more affordable than they were five years ago, improving from 5.5 times the average yearly salary to 5.44. Perth also had the biggest improvement in home affordability over the last 12 months (5.80 to 5.44).

The average house price in Glasgow has increased by 35 per cent in the last five years, faster than any other Scottish city. In 2012, the average house price was £128,733, rising to £173,990 in 2017. Glasgow has also seen the steepest decline in home affordability in the last five years (4.27 to 5.50 times average earnings).

The average house price across all Scottish cities increased by 1.8 per cent, from £186,827 in 2016 to £190,250 in 2017.

Comparatively, average earnings increased by 2 per cent, resulting in average home affordability improving very slightly in the last 12 months from 5.36 to 5.35 times average earnings.

Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth all saw an improvement in average home affordability over the past year with a slight decline for Aberdeen. Inverness, Glasgow and Stirling also saw a decline but still feature in the top 20 most affordable UK cities. In fact, Stirling ranked as the most affordable city in the whole of the UK for the fifth consecutive year.

In the last five years, the average house price in the UK has increased by 45 per cent to £255,183, compared to 23 per cent for the average house price in Scottish cities.

Average house prices in all Scottish cities are now lower than the UK average, compared to 2012 when Aberdeen was 0.2 per cent higher and Edinburgh was 10 per cent higher.

Stirling (4.03), Londonderry in Northern Ireland (4.1) and Bradford (4.5) are the top three cities in the UK in terms of affordability. Dundee (5.4), Perth (5.4), Glasgow (5.5) and Inverness (5.6) also appear in the top twenty most affordable cities in the UK. Oxford is named as the least affordable city in the UK with an average house price to earnings ratio of 11.5.

And finally…Deadline set as interest overwhelms Italian village homes for a €1 offer

A deadline has been introduced to a scheme in Italy that offers the chance to buy a house for €1 after it was overwhelmed with interest.

A deadline of 7 February 2018 has now been set for applications, leaving what is now less than a week left to apply.

The Sardinian village of Ollolai in the Barbagia region launched the initiative in 2015 to attract more residents after the local population had dwindled to 1,300, with few babies born each year.

After being covered by various media outlets the number of applications has risen to 120, with many coming from overseas.

Interest has also caused the website dealing with the offer to crash.

Mayor of the village, Efisio Arbau, has aimed to rejuvenate the community through the initiative, which invites people to buy one of 200 stone houses for just €1 (88p) – although there are strings attached.

The houses themselves are in varying states of disrepair and in need of serious work, and only those with around €20,000 to €30,000 to make them inhabitable will be considered.

The scheme stipulates that participants must commit to refurbish the property within three years of purchase, and can only sell it on after five years.