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Hillcrest and Robertson to deliver new Aberdeen affordable homes

Hillcrest Housing Association and Robertson Partnership Homes have teamed up to deliver the much needed gift of affordable housing this Christmas.

The development of 138 homes at St Machar Road in Aberdeen is funded through a Scottish Government grant totalling £9,574,100.

David Zwirlein, Hillcrest’s director of development and new business, said: “We’re delighted to be on site just in time for Christmas to get started on this much needed development in Aberdeen.

“In partnership with Robertson Partnership Homes, we will deliver 138 homes at affordable rents by June 2021. Aberdeen has long had a shortage of affordable housing and a development on this scale will have a huge impact on the area.

“Phase one of this development will see us deliver 103 homes for social rent and 35 for mid-market rent.”

Stewart Shearer, managing director of Robertson Partnership Homes, said: “The new homes at St Machar Road are part of an ambitious development that will result in a number of high quality accommodation options that will help address significant demand in Aberdeen.

“The investment is not only transformational for the area and the local community, but also offers significant opportunities for the local supply chain.”

Partnership results in jobs for young people in Possilpark

The Wise Group and McTaggart Group have agreed an official employability partnership which has resulted in full time jobs for four young people from one of Glasgow’s most disadvantaged areas.

The partnership was launched in October this year, the first site being McTaggart’s Ashfield Street, where they are building 48 new homes for Hawthorn Housing Co-operative. Jobs and training opportunities were advertised around the site and Hawthorn tenants were issued communication about the opportunities by the Co-operative, which resulted in nearly fifty people noting interest.

Through the CashBack for Communities programme, The Wise Group were able to offer eight 16-24 year old’s construction-specific training during a two week programme at their Charlotte Street facility, culminating in a two week work placement on McTaggart’s sites. The four young people who impressed McTaggart’s site management team have been offered full time, permanent jobs within the Group businesses.

Connor McCue, aged 18 from Possilpark, is one of the local young people to secure a job and said: “I’ve been on other employability programmes, but none have been able to offer me a job at the end of my placement. The opportunity with the Wise Group and McTaggart’s has been different, they’ve offered me a lot of support and knowing there’s a real job at the end has pushed me to work hard.”

The Wise Group’s chief executive, Laurie Russell (far-right of picture), added: “It is fantastic to see that the new partnership between the McTaggart Group and the Wise Group had already opened up opportunities for four young people to get access to jobs in the construction sector. There is clearly a huge sense of pride that comes from working on a major regeneration project in your own community.  It is even better for the young people that they now have a chance to develop a long-term future with one of the country’s best construction companies.”

McTaggart Group’s managing director, Gary Climson (far-left of picture), said: “We are really delighted with the results from our first project working in partnership with the Wise Group, so far it has exceeded our expectations. Developing a pipeline of young talent to fill roles across our Group of companies is a key business objective. It’s particularly satisfying when we’re able to recruit from the areas we’re building new homes in, as one of our primary aims is to help create sustainable communities.”

Building Briefs – December 21st

(from left) Jonny Kinross (chief executive, GCP), David Wilson (operations director – Morrison Construction), Jo Elliot (chair – hub South East), Bruce Dickson (regional director – BAM Construction) Martin Taylor (framework manager – Graham Construction), Tommy Steel (workshop manager, GCP), Elisa Ford (GCP member)

Christmas comes early for Grassmarket Community Project as hub South East delivers £24k

hub South East has presented the Grassmarket Community Project (GCP) in Edinburgh with £24,000 thanks to a Charity Golf Day held earlier this year.

This is the second event organised by the development partner to public sector bodies after previously raising £15,000 for GCP in 2015. The hub’s three Tier One Contractors – BAM, Graham and Morrison Construction were the primary sponsors of this year’s event and were present to meet the charity’s team and members whilst handing over the cheque.

The money raised will be used by GCP to transform a space in its building for one-to-one counselling and support, as well as helping fund the qualified counsellors to provide this much-needed service.

In addition to this, the money will support an outreach service to connect with people that the Project haven’t had contact with for some time. Some of GCPs vulnerable members struggle to even leave the house and this will enable the set up of specific groups to engage people who are the most isolated


New Aberdeen FC stadium decision due to be made next month

The fate of Aberdeen Football Club’s proposed new stadium will be decided next month.

The Dons want to replace Pittodrie with a 20,000-seat ground, training academy and heritage museum at Kingsford.

The club asked Aberdeen City Council to delay a decision on the £50 million proposals just days before it was to be considered by the local authority in October to allow further discussions with the planning service.

Councillors will now make a decision on the plans on Monday, January 29.

Under the proposals, the training centre would be created first so the Dons first team squad can start using it in 2018.


West Calder Library wins SPACES award

West Calder Library, recently refurbished by Clark Contracts, is the proud new recipient of a prestigious SPACES (Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying) award.

The library was announced as a joint winner in the Small Refurbishment category alongside Wombwell Chapel from Barnsley at an award dinner on Friday 3rd November at the Forest of Arden Marriot Hotel and Country Club Meriden in Birmingham.

SPACES is a collaborative organisation for those in the building professions working in and for the public sector and is committed to assisting its members in achieving the highest possible standards in the development, design, construction and management of the public sector estate for the mutual benefit of their employers.

West Calder Library has also been selected to feature in SPACES annual yearbook for 2017/18 alongside fellow West Lothian project the Broxburn Library Relocation.

The project allowed the building to be sympathetically restored and keep most of its original grade B listed features, while the new shelving and furniture brings a modern open feel. The flooring is the original flooring that had been hidden beneath carpeting for a long number of years which has now been restored to a beautiful standard.

The clock is also an original feature being in the building since it opened. The space beneath the library, formally the Librarians house, has also been converted to provide modern semi-open plan offices, fit for purpose and location of the Breich Valley Housing Team.


Investment for South Ayrshire Council houses outlined with rent rise capped at 2%

South Ayrshire Council has unveiled a three year plan to improve existing housing properties and land, with a below inflation annual rent increase continued to help manage costs.

Under the plan, £2.3 million will be invested in double glazing replacements to improve energy efficiency at 500 homes; environmental improvements will see improved footpaths, fencing and retaining wall work carried out, including around sheltered housing complexes. The wider programme will also see 162 lock ups, currently in need of significant maintenance, demolished in various locations across South Ayrshire.

To help manage costs rent will rise by a below inflation 2% on the majority of council properties, which works out at roughly £1.60 a week for a 2 bedroom house. Rent on new build properties (which are generally higher) will be frozen until 2020/21, while the rent for one bedroom new builds will be reduced to help match the maximum allowance allowed for people reliant on housing benefit.

Rental rates for lock-ups, garage site rents, garden maintenance, communal heating, and amenity charges have also been capped at 2% from 2018/19 – 2020/21.

As part of its long term maintenance programme South Ayrshire Council has also pledged to replace boilers and kitchens every 15 years (as opposed to 20) with full property modernisation scheduled in for every 30 years.

The full paper ‘Council house rents and housing revenue account (HRA) revenue and capital estimates 2018/19’ can be found here.


Scotland on track for record year of renewable generation

Scotland is on track for a record year of renewable electricity generation, with output in the first three quarters of 2017 19% greater than the same period in 2016, and 10% greater than the same period in 2015 – the previous record year.

New figures published today by the UK government show that Scotland continues to lead the way in renewables, delivering the equivalent of 54% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2016. Also, renewables accounted for a record 42.9% of total Scottish electricity generation in 2016.

Scotland generated approximately 24% of total UK renewable electricity in 2016 and continued to be a strong net exporter of electricity.


Regulator continues engagement at Thistle amid delayed SHQS works

The Scottish Housing Regulator is to continue its engagement with Thistle Housing Association to gain assurance about its handling and completion of investment works.

According to an updated regulation plan published by the Regulator, Thistle owns 250 homes within larger mixed tenure blocks that need significant investment to bring them up to the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS). While Thistle planned to bring these properties up to the SHQS by November 2016, the Regulator said there has been “substantial delay and significant difficulties encountered with the project” and the work is now not anticipated to complete until February 2018.

Some defects with window sills have been identified and Thistle is developing a strategy to resolve these.

This Medium level of engagement will be reviewed at the end of March 2018, the Regulator added.


Councillors consider report into Midlothian carbon dioxide incident

A final report on the findings of an Incident Management Team set up by NHS Lothian after elevated carbon dioxide levels (CO2) were found in homes in Gorebridge has been considered by Midlothian Council.

The team was established to investigate ill health cases affecting residents of a recently built development on Newbyres Crescent and Gore Avenue in Gorebridge in 2014.

In the range of recommendations, three requiring action by the council are either underway or complete. The first was to limit public access to the site until the homes were demolished, which finished in early 2016.

The second recommendation is that efforts should be made to ensure there are no ongoing public health threats caused by gas leaks from old mine workings before any redevelopment is underway.

Finally, the third recommendation is to pursue a long term strategy to monitor any houses built on the site to ensure the same issues don’t happen again.

Residents had to be rehoused after elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) from old mine workings were found in some of the properties in 2014.

Costs of the demolition and rebuilding work are estimated to be around £12 million.

Rebuilding the homes will help meet the social housing need in the local area, in the council’s Social Housing Programme.

Prior to redevelopment of the site ground gas monitoring and risk assessment will take place for appropriately designed, installed and verified gas defence systems to be included on the site and within the building structures to avoid any risk of CO2 exposure.


NWH Group gives the gift of Christmas to Children 1st    

NWH Group has agreed to partner with Scotland’s national children’s charity Children 1st, kicking off with a toy drive this Christmas as part of the festive #GivetheGift campaign.

NWH is one of more than 30 businesses who took part in the online #GivetheGift campaign, and staff have also committed to donating a gift to a child this Christmas.

NWH Group will continue to support Children 1st throughout the year ahead by involving staff in fundraising initiatives whenever possible and collecting donations at key events on the calendar. Thirty of NWH Group’s staff from depots in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh have already committed to Tough Mudder in June 2018.

And finally… Ogilvie’s Christmas arcade game returns

It isn’t Christmas until you’ve played Ogilvie Group’s festive arcade game so stop what you’re doing and have a go at this year’s offering.

Unlike last year, when the aim was to help Santa deliver his presents, this time you have to help him avoid the gifts.

You can find the addictive little number here.

SCN would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience!

Construction leads and tenders – December 21st


Applicant: Zephyr (Scotland) Ltd

Planning Authority: Glasgow

Details: External alterations with fabric repairs, restoration and partial demolition of office building, includes use of vacant workshop as business (Class 4) and cafe /restaurant (Class 3) uses, formation of access road and landscaped courtyard

Location: 187 – 199 Scotland Street, Glasgow

Agent: Page\Park Architects



Applicant: Marshall CDP

Planning Authority: Glasgow

Details: Use of office (class 2) as hotel (class 7) with internal and external alterations

Location: Madeline House, 6 Blythswood Square, Glasgow

Agent: Curious, Paul Duncan, Coltas House, 64 Waterloo Street, Glasgow


Applicant: Urban Union Ltd.

Planning Authority: Glasgow

Details: Construction of residential development (137 units) with access, parking, open space, landscaping and associated works.

Location: Land to the rear of Pollokshaws Road between Shawholm Crescent/ Shawbridge Street, Glasgow

Agent: Barton Willmore, Colin Lavety, 68-70 George Street, Edinburgh



Contract Authority: Renfrewshire Council

Details: This procurement procedure is for the modernisation of the two electro-traction passenger lifts within the premises of Renfrew High School.

Location: Renfrew


Publication Date: 20/12/2017


Contract Authority: Caledonia Housing Association

Details: External and internal painter-work to properties across Perthshire, Dundee, Fife, Angus.

Location: As above


Publication Date: 20/12/2017

Student flats plan next to Mackintosh Building rejected by Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has rejected an appeal for plans to build a student housing development adjoining Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s world-renowned Glasgow School of Art (GSA) building.

Plans by developers Urban Pulse would have seen the former Jumpin’ Jaks nightclub on Sauchiehall Street demolished to make way for a seven-storey block consisting of 181 flats complete with roof gardens, study rooms, common areas and a cinema room.

Opponents said that the block would have restricted daylight to the A-listed GSA building and obscured much of its striking south facade. Fears were also expressed that the proposed building would damage the city’s reputation as a tourist destination and could harm any future UNESCO World Heritage bid, despite Historic Environment Scotland not lodging a formal objection.

The proposals were recommended for approval by planning officials back in March after revised plans submitted by Haus Architects reduced the development by one storey and four flats.

Glasgow City Council’s planning application committee then voted to allow for a hearing to give a chance for those for and against the plans to make their case, before deciding against the development in April.

Urban Pulse then appealed to the government to reverse the decision.

However, delivering his judgement on the appeal this week, reporter Robert Seaton, said: “As a consequence of the proposed development’s adverse effect upon the setting and special character of the Mackintosh building of the Glasgow School of Art and its adverse effect upon the conservation area and setting of other neighbouring listed buildings, I find that the proposed development does not respect, preserve or enhance the historic environment.”

He concluded: “I find that the proposed development does not accord overall with the development plan.

“I have found no material considerations that would still justify granting planning permission. I have considered all the other matters raised, but there are none that would lead me to alter my conclusions.”

The developers had previously said their proposals were in line with aspirations to rejuvenate Sauchiehall Street “and re-establish this important city district”.

A spokesperson for the developers said: “We are of course very disappointed with the decision made by the reporter.

“We had very high hopes of delivering a state of the art building on this tired and dilapidated site that would have replaced the eyesore that presently exists and have helped stem the ongoing decline in this part of Sauchiehall Street.

“What is particularly disheartening is that the decision by the Reporter followed an extensive and indeed unprecedented consultation period, which included extensive discussions with the Glasgow School of Art, and concluded in an enthusiastic recommendation for approval by the professional planning team at Glasgow City Council.

“We now believe that as a direct result of the Reporter’s decision yet another key tenant is now vacating Sauchiehall Street in the New Year leading to the further degradation of this property and adding to the on-going decline of this great street in the centre of Glasgow.

“We have sought to engage with the City Planners early in the New Year to explore a possible way forward for the future of this site if indeed this is at all feasible.”

Mr Seaton’s judgement concludes: “The proposed development would undoubtedly have some economic benefits, and as student accommodation proposed on a city-centre site close to a number of campuses would make efficient use of existing infrastructure.

“However, I am not persuaded these positive aspects would outweigh its detrimental effects on the historic environment.

“As a consequence of these effects it does not show all the qualities of a successful place.”

The reporter’s decision is deemed to be final.

However, individuals unhappy with the decision made by the reporter may have the right to appeal to the Court of Session, but this can only be made on a point of law.

A spokeswoman for the GSA said: “The Glasgow School of Art welcomes the Reporter’s decision to refuse the Appeal for the proposed development at 294 Sauchiehall Street and specifically the recognition that while economic benefits of development are important these should not outweigh the detrimental effects of proposals on the historic environment.”

Green light for new Queens Quay energy centre

A new energy centre at Queens Quay could start generating heat by Autumn 2018 after planning permission was granted for the development at the £250 million regeneration project on the site of the former John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank.

Construction of the energy centre for the District Heat Network will commence in quarter 1 2018. Set to serve the entire Queens Quay site and beyond, developers say the network will make Clydebank the greenest town in Scotland.

Queens Quay’s District Heat Network will be the largest and most ambitious in Scotland and will enable valuable energy, which is often wasted in power generation and industrial processes, to be captured and supplied to householders and businesses directly.

The 100% carbon free system is designed on a modular basis to allow expansion, with the ability to include the nearby Golden Jubilee Hospital as well as the wider Clydebank area making the network effective and efficient from both technical and financial perspectives.

Within the energy centre water source heat pumps will extract water from the River Clyde, giving the system a direct link to natural resources. Additional piping will be located in the wider area to facilitate connections to new homes, as well as public buildings such as Clydebank College and Leisure Centre, and into the town centre.

The energy centre will also accommodate gas boilers, pressurisation units and distribution pumps together with a building control and management system to operate and monitor the system. This system is generally controlled remotely with no requirement for permanent staff. An on-site office and welfare facilities will be located on the mezzanine level.

Queens Quay is owned by Clydeside Regeneration Limited (CRL) with West Dunbartonshire Council part funding the development. Dawn Urban Regeneration Ltd is the development partner and is working in partnership with the council to deliver the energy centre and the wider development.

West Dunbartonshire Council will own, operate and maintain the entire heating system, ensuring security of supply and reduced tariffs for customers. The Scottish Government provided £6m of funding towards the system via its Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme with the council covering the remaining £6m.

Paul O’Donnell of Dawn Urban Regeneration Ltd said:  “It is fantastic news that we’ve achieved planning permission for the Queens Quay Energy Centre, it is yet another piece of good news in the delivery of the project and promises a green future for Clydebank.

“The coming year will be very important for Queens Quay with the delivery of all infrastructure and the commencement of a number of other exciting developments.”

Last month it was announced that civil engineering company George Leslie Ltd has been appointed to carry out all marine works associated with the basin and river frontage.  The contractor will start work in January before construction of the new £15m care home commences in quarter 2 and the state-of-the-art £25m health centre in quarter 3.

The next stage of infrastructure works, involving the formation of a new access road and utilities connections, which will service the entire mixed-use site, will also commence in quarter 1 2018.

On completion of the care home and health centre, the housing, retail and leisure elements of the project will follow and will add to the existing facilities at Queens Quay, including West Dunbartonshire Council’s offices at Aurora House and a new £23.5m leisure centre which opened earlier this year.

Avant Homes secures planning permission for £35.2m Bishopton site

David Knight, Avant Homes Scotland managing director

Stirling-based homebuilder Avant Homes has been granted planning permission to build 121 new homes for a £35.2 million development in Dargavel Village in Bishopton, Renfrewshire.

Avant Homes acquired an 11.5-acre site, which is located off Slateford Road at the location of the former Royal Ordnance Factory and sits 12 miles west of Glasgow. Dargavel Village is part of a major transformational project in Bishopton led by BAE Systems.

The properties to be built by Avant Homes will be a mixture of innovatively designed homes including three-bedroom semi-detached and detached and four and five-bedroom detached houses, all complete with the developer’s new interior specification.

Construction is due to start on the development immediately, with the first homes ready for occupation in 2018.

Avant Homes Scotland managing director, David Knight, said: “We are committed to continued investment in Scotland and the central belt is a key focus for us. The last 12 months have seen high demand for our product here and our Dargavel Village development in Bishopton demonstrates our dedication to providing much-needed homes in the area. The site is important historically and we’re looking forward to giving it a rich future for homebuyers.”

The history of the site dates back to the 16th century, when the Grade B listed Dargavel House was built by the Maxwell family. From World War One, the site was home to a munitions factory run by the Ministry of Defence and then BAE Systems, until manufacturing ceased in 2001.

Jon Gettinby, Bishopton programme manager for BAE Systems, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Avant Homes to Dargavel Village. Working closely with all of our development partners, such as Avant Homes, is key to achieving our vision for Dargavel Village to be an aspirational place to live.”

Avant Homes Scotland is an operating company of the Avant Homes group. The homebuilder currently has 12 developments in its portfolio stretching from Pitdinnie Grange in Cairneyhill to The Dukes in Ferniegair.

For the financial year to 30 April 2017, Avant Homes posted both record revenue and operating profit numbers. Revenues increased 45% year-on-year to £369m, whilst operating profits rose 107% to £45m. These were delivered having achieved 1,636 total completions, up 35% compared with the prior year.

Developers prevented from building new homes due to lack of capital school funding

Much-needed new homes are being held up in the planning system because local authorities are increasing the expectations on developers to deliver infrastructure solutions such as new local schools, according to Homes for Scotland.

In evidence provided to the Scottish Parliament’s education & skills committee before last week’s Budget announcement, the house building trade body urged the Scottish Government to explore different models for funding the development of schools to allow its members to deliver the homes that Scotland needs.

Interim director of policy, David Ogilvie, said Homes for Scotland is “acutely aware” of the scale of housing challenge currently facing Scotland and that its member companies “are committed to working closely with the Scottish Government to tackle the country’s under-supply of housing and help it to achieve its ambition of improving opportunity for all”.

But he added that a ‘joined up’ approach to housing is “clearly required” if the many positives new housing delivers are to be fully maximised and emphasised the need for a discrete capital funding stream for the development of new schools and associated infrastructure.

Submitting the evidence, Mr Ogilvie said: “Our members are becoming increasingly mired in intractable negotiations with planning authorities over the extent of planning gain expected from new home developments in their area. While our members are perfectly content to deliver new affordable homes in the local area, or to contribute towards the provision of additional schools capacity in a locality, the fact is that the scale of planning gain expected in some parts of Scotland is so great, or the timing expectations for delivering infrastructure solutions are such, that it is impacting negatively on development viability.

“The consequence is that much-needed new homes are being held up in the system because of an entirely avoidable Catch 22 scenario. We do not believe that home builders should be expected to bear the full burden of funding or front-funding new schools infrastructure via Section 75 contributions.

“While we will continue to work tirelessly with the Scottish Government to meet the housing needs of Scotland’s people, we would highlight that the home building industry is not solely responsible for Scotland’s population growth or the demographic change which is driving the need for more homes and therefore more school places.

“We would therefore wish to see Scottish Government bringing forward in the Scottish Budget 2018-19 a discrete budget heading designed to overcome the shortfall in capital funding for schools, which will unlock numerous sites across Scotland and allow us to ensure the delivery of new homes. This funding will either help get projects moving through the provision of the full upfront capital needed to deliver an education solution in an area (that can then be paid back in part at least through appropriate developer contributions) or the funding will bridge the gap between what the development impact is assessed as being and the wider education needs that also require to be addressed.”

McAleer & Rushe unveils plans for new four-star hotel in Glasgow

McAleer & Rushe has signed an Agreement for Lease with Ireland’s largest hotel chain to deliver a new four-star hotel in Glasgow city centre.

The proposed c. 250 bed Maldron Hotel will come with bar, restaurant and business conferencing facilities and will centrally located on Renfrew Street adjacent to the Theatre Royal.

The £30 million project, which is subject to planning approval from Glasgow City Council, is projected to be delivered by mid-2020, representing Dalata Hotel Group’s first Maldron hotel in Scotland. Once construction is completed, Dalata will operate the hotel under a 35-year lease, subject to five-year rent reviews linked to the Retail Price Index.

This latest McAleer & Rushe project represents a long-standing partnership with the Dalata Hotel Group in delivering hotels across the UK and Ireland and follows the recent announcement of its sale of the planned Maldron Hotel in Newcastle to a major institutional fund, the UK Commercial Property Trust Limited (UKCPT).

Stephen Surphlis, property director at McAleer & Rushe, said the hotel’s strategic positioning on Renfrew Street will support Glasgow’s growing economy, positively contributing towards the surrounding urban environment and create construction as well as indirect employment.

He added: “The announcement of our latest lease deal with Dalata represents the growing confidence in key regional UK cities for hotel operators, particularly in Scotland. This major new four-star Maldron Hotel will be an exciting addition to this dynamic consumer and business hub.”