Building Briefs

Building Briefs – March 19th

Emtec begins work at 122 Waterloo Street in Glasgow

Emtec Building Services has commenced works at 122 Waterloo Street which will house the new headquarters for Morgan Stanley Financial Services in Glasgow’s city centre.

This prestigious fast track fit out project of 155,000sqft to be completed within a 16-week programme, forms nine floors of open plan Grade A office space, and also incorporates a gym, kitchen and restaurant providing a state of the art working environment for approximately 1200 staff.

With over one hundred operatives and staff onsite, Emtec said its proactive approach and “can do attitude” in support of client Sharkey allows for client critical changes to be incorporated into the project programme without impacting on the overall completion date.


Ground investigation works on A9/A96 Inshes to Smithton scheme

Ground investigation works are to start on Wednesday 21 March 2018 as part of the plans to build a single carriageway road connecting Inshes and Smithton in Inverness as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.

The work is expected to last around seven weeks.

The vast majority of the work will take place off the line of any existing roads in the area, ensuring the need for traffic management is kept to a minimum.


Inverclyde Council agrees budget

Inverclyde Council has agreed its budget for the coming financial year as it aimed to plug a funding gap of just over £3 million.

Among the additional investments totalling £5.8m will be a £1.3m investment for facilities including Lady Octavia Sports Centre (£470,000) and Boglestone Community Centre (£830,000). The council also plans to invest an additional £150,000 in developing a new tennis facility in Inverclyde to bring the council contribution to the project to £500,000.

The budget also proposes a three-year capital programme covering the period 2018-2021 with investment of just over £68m, with £21m to be invested in the education estate.

Projects for this period include:

  • £5.8m on the refurbishment and extension of St Mary’s Primary School
  • £1.6m on an extension to Gourock Primary School
  • £1m on refurbishing Hillend Children’s Centre
  • £350,000 on the upgrade of Larkfield Children’s Centre

Savings proposals include a £159,000 reduction in economic and regeneration funding for urban regeneration company Riverside Inverclyde (ri).


Ground works set to start beside the Bonnie Banks

Ground investigations are to start on the 26th March as part of the work to upgrade the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan.

The work is expected to last around 18 weeks.

Some traffic management measures will be required when necessary to allow work to be carried out safely. The works will be halted over the Easter holiday weekend from Friday 30 March to Monday 2 April.


Construction of new Cordale Housing Association office underway in Renton

(from left) Billy Simpson & Danny McKibdens from Clark Contracts; pupils of St Martin’s and Renton primary schools; Barry Johnstone, Caledonia Housing Association area director; Cordale Housing Association Board members Martin Walker & Margaret McCallion; Mark Smith from Grant Murray Architects; Nancy Robertson & Rebekah Rowe of Cordale Housing Association and Ross Wilson & Ross Lumsden from Clark Contracts

The transformation of Renton High Street formally began last week with a ceremonial sod cutting ceremony to mark the start of the construction of Cordale Housing Association’s new office.

The new office will transform the heart of Renton, replacing long-standing empty shops and revitalising an area that had been in environmental decline.  Cordale was keen to ensure the start of the construction of this building involved the whole community with pupils from the local St Martin’s and Renton primary schools attending the gathering along with Cordale committee members, Cordale staff, Caledonia Housing Association staff, Grant Murray Architects and representatives from Clark Contracts.

The contract was awarded to Clark Contracts following a pre-qualification stage and competitive tender process. The two storey building will be constructed over a ten month period and is expected to be opened in early 2019.


Work begins on new Galashiels play park

Construction of a new Galashiels play park is now underway.

The £290,000 facility in the Public Park is expected to take 12 weeks to complete by contractors HAGS, with an opening event scheduled for late May.

The upgraded play park will include areas for children up to six years of age and for older children, including a number of new items of equipment not available elsewhere in Scotland, including a special play train.

The park, which will be on the site of the current Public Park play equipment and will be enclosed by fencing, will include wet pour rubber safety surfacing throughout and specific facilities for children with additional needs.

The project is jointly funded from Scottish Borders Council’s play parks budget, Galashiels Pay and Display car parking fund surpluses and a £10,000 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme.

Images of the new play park are available at SBC’s Flickr page.


Percentage of disposable income Scots spend on mortgage payments nearly halves in a decade

Homeowners in Scotland pay a fifth (20%) of their disposable income towards their mortgage each month, according to new Bank of Scotland research, almost half of the proportion paid out in 2007.

Disposable income spent on mortgage payments in Scotland is 9% less than the rest of the UK (29%) making it the second most affordable place after Northern Ireland (19%) in the UK. Mortgage affordability has only marginally deteriorated (19.7% in 2016 to 20.1% in 2017), despite the first interest rate in recent years and house prices in Scotland rising by 7% in the last 12 months.

Five out of the ten most affordable Local Authority Districts (LAD) in the UK are in Scotland. Inverclyde is now Scotland’s most affordable location and is the UK’s second most affordable after Copeland in North West England. Inverclyde made the jump from fifth most affordable at the end of 2016 to Scotland’s most affordable with mortgage payments taking up 15.7% of disposable income. North Ayrshire (15.9%), West Dunbartonshire (16.2%), Renfrewshire (16.4%), and East Ayrshire (16.6%) also feature in the UK’s ten most affordable locations.

Over the last 12 months there has been a 7% increase in house prices in Scotland which has led to a marginal decrease in mortgage affordability, the report added. Despite the recent increase in the Bank of England base rate at the end of last year there has been little impact on mortgage rates so far. However, if rates were to rise over the course of 2018, the report argues that this could impact the 46% of UK households who have a mortgage either on a standard variable rate or tracker rate with potentially higher payments.

Despite the very slight decrease (0.4%) in affordability, the percentage of disposable income typically spent on mortgage payments has nearly halved compared to a decade ago. At the end of 2007, mortgage payments typically cost Scots 38% of their disposable income and now they pay 20.1% with an average monthly mortgage payment of £442. This is £227 less than the UK average of £669.

Building Briefs – March 16th

Building surveyors to restore empty homes on historic Borders estate

Independent property consultancy Galbraith has been appointed to bring six empty properties on a historic Borders estate back into use.

The company is working with Roxburghe Estates to restore the former farm cottages at Cessford which have not been habitable for a number of years.

The project has been awarded 40% grant funding through the Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund.

Roxburghe Estates directly employees 170 staff, provides 250 affordable houses and makes available land and buildings for community uses and activities.


Builder dies after wall collapse in Inverness

A builder has died after a wall outside a house in Inverness collapsed on him.

The man has been named locally as Iain Urquhart, 57, from the city.

Police Scotland said it was called to the property in Old Edinburgh Road on Sunday afternoon.

A spokesman said: “Initial inquiries reveal there were no other persons involved and there are no suspicious circumstances.”


AECOM to lead new South West Scotland transport study

Improvements to road, rail, public transport and active travel will be considered by a new study looking at improving transport provision in the south west of Scotland. The study will have a particular focus on access to the ports at Cairnryan.

Transport Scotland today announced the intention to award the contract for the work to AECOM Ltd.

Subject to completion of the mandatory standstill period, the study will start in April and is expected to report in Winter 18/19. The findings will help inform the forthcoming review of Scottish Government’s transport investment priorities through the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) which will be aligned with the next National Planning Framework and will consider future opportunities across the whole of Scotland.


Housing minister launches 130 new affordable homes in Castlemilk

Residents in a development of 130 new affordable homes in Castlemilk told Scotland’s housing minister yesterday how their new houses had changed their lives.

Kevin Stewart MSP was given a tour of GHA’s £14.8 million development which has been built on the site of old tenements in Dougrie Drive which were demolished 10 years ago.

The minister heard how the project has provided much-needed affordable housing for the area as well as jobs and training opportunities with 10 young people gaining work on the site. Five of them became apprentices in joinery, bricklaying and plumbing.

The development is made up of 130 modern, fuel-efficient homes for social rent with a range of house types including one and two bedroom cottage flats, and three bedroom houses.

There is also an amenity block of 44 self-contained flats, 11 of which are suitable for wheelchair users. The block is designed to support people with a range of different needs and has a common room and a landscaped central courtyard for residents to sit out and socialise.

Tenant Agnes Campbell, 65, moved into Dougrie Court from her former home in nearby Dougrie Road last month. Agnes said her ground floor flat not only suits her much better, she is also delighted with the open-plan layout.

The minister was joined by GHA tenant chair Bernadette Hewitt, tenants, staff of GHA and its parent company Wheatley Group, local housing committee members, local elected members and representatives from the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, contractor CCG and other partners.

The development was part-funded by a Scottish Government grant of £7.3m and £7.5m of private finance raised by Wheatley Group.


Bright spark Brian helps saves £3,000 for homelessness charity

Brian Birt

A volunteer with Shelter Scotland’s Prestwick charity shop has helped to save £3,000 for the cause in just six months by passing an electrical safety course.

Brian Birt from Ayr gained his certificate in portable electrical appliance testing in September and has already checked 3,000 donated items as safe to sell and use.

Assuming a £5 minimum sale price per item this means the shop will have raised around £15,000 on those items alone for Shelter Scotland.

Previously it would have cost them £1 to have each item checked so having a trained volunteer has saved £3,000.

Anyone with surplus electrical items are encouraged to donate them to the store at 107 Main Street, Prestwick.

Building Briefs – March 15th

Plans submitted for Union Bridge safety measure

A planning application was submitted today for the addition of a permanent safety structure on Union Bridge in Aberdeen.

Temporary fencing has been in place in front of the bridge parapet on Union Street as a deterrent.

The application was submitted by LDA Design, which was commissioned by Aberdeen City Council to draw up the plans.

The proposed barrier would be made from steel and powder coated in a copper colour, and would be a lighter structure to complement the existing parapet.

The application states that the design aims to respect the heritage value of the bridge while blending with proposals to revitalise Union Terrace Gardens (UTG), which were also produced by LDA Design.

If approved, the work – which would include the upgrading of the north pavement on Union Bridge – would as previously agreed by Council be delivered as part of Phase 1 of the UTG project.

The planning application can be found here.


Link and Paragon complete new development for social rent in Alva

A new housing development for Link Group Ltd and Paragon Housing Association at Queen Street, Alva has been opened officially opened by the minister for local government and housing, Kevin Stewart.

The £5.3 million construction of 48 homes for social rent began in February 2016, and was supported by a grant of £3,076,916 from the Scottish Government’s Greener Homes Initiative scheme.

Queen Street is Scotland’s first volumetric off-site manufactured housing development built to the Gold Standard of Sustainability and is an innovative addition to Link and Paragon’s development programmes. Volumetric Construction is a type of off-site manufacturing which increases build quality, while providing the opportunity to reduce construction costs, time and waste.

Developed by Tigh Grian Ltd, on behalf of Link and Paragon, the development was built by Marshall Construction Ltd and comprises a mix of one-bedroom cottage flats, and two and three-bedroom homes. Following completion, 14 units were transferred to Paragon, while Link retained ownership of the remaining 34 units.

As this is the first development of its kind in Scotland, Link and Paragon are working with Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, who have provided project support to enable them to work with Edinburgh Napier University to carry out an occupancy study of these new properties to measure temperature, sound and energy use over the first 12 months of tenants living in their new homes.


Strong final quarter boosts 2017 returns across Scotland’s commercial property market

Data for Scottish commercial real estate released by property consultant CBRE reveals that the annual total return for 2017 in Scotland was 6.8%, comparing favourably with the UK as a whole where the total return was 10.2% as measured by the IPD Quarterly Index.

Over the fourth quarter, the all property total return was 2.1%, up from 1.7% in Q3 2017. This increase is attributed to improved capital growth, with average capital values up by 0.6%. This represented the bulk of capital appreciation during the year, given the total uplift in 2017 was just 0.9% over the calendar year.

Industrials have been the key differentiating factor in the UK’s relative outperformance against Scotland, with the pace of rental growth in the London and South East industrial markets notably outperforming rental growth in any other commercial real estate sector.  However, for some other sectors, the performance gap between the UK and Scotland has narrowed, notably high-street shops and offices.

Office sector total returns for Q4 rose to 2.2%, an increase from 1.6% in Q3, representing the largest quarterly uplift in returns for any of the three principal sectors in Scotland. It was also the highest total return for the Scottish office sector since the final quarter of 2015. This led to an annual total return of 5.9% in 2017, in contrast to -0.2% in 2016. Despite capital value growth throughout the second half, it was not quite enough to reverse the loss incurred in the first half, a continued legacy of the results of the 2016 EU Referendum.

Total returns in retail saw a slight increase from 1.4% in Q3 to 1.5% in Q4, while the UK-wide figure saw a marginal slip. The annual total return for retail in 2017 was 5.8%, a marked improvement on the 1.0% return achieved in 2016. Over the course of the past twelve months, capital growth for Scottish retail has been virtually flat, despite average rental growth on 0.5% over the year.

Once again, industrials were the best performing of the three main sector groups in 2017, producing a total return of 7.9% during the year compared to 4.3% achieved in 2016. Industrials were the only sector to experience substantive capital growth in 2017, with values increasing by 5.5% on average, and rental value up by 1.0% over the same period. Like other sectors, growth rates improved during the course of the year. Capital values were up 2.0% alone in Q4, leading a quarterly total return of 2.5%.


Nairn roads maintenance programme approved 

Members of the Highland Council’s Nairn committee have approved the council’s 2018/19 roads maintenance programme for the area.

Included in the approved road maintenance schedule are surface dressing works planned for A939 Nairn to Grantown-on-Spey Road at Cairn Duhie and Ferness; Impact patching at various locations; and Overlay Works at Fornighty, Manse Road and Cawdor Road in Auldearn and Blairfield Road in Tradespark.

The Nairn roads maintenance programme has been approved by local councillors pending confirmation of the council’s community services committee budget allocations for the area.

Based on 2017-18 budgets, the Capital budget for Nairn was £292,300 and the Revenue budget for Nairn was £378,600 which includes £107,900 for winter maintenance.

The indicative programme is based on current engineering and safety priories and may alter if significant events impact priorities and resources.


Scottish Borders Housing Association commences new family homes for Galashiels

Work has started this week on a new housing development at Rose Court in Langlee, Galashiels.

The £1.8 million project by Scottish Borders Housing Association will see the creation of 10 brand-new three bed family homes.

The new homes will benefit from dedicated parking spaces and front and back gardens, and will have solar panels, allowing Tenants to heat them more affordably. They will replace a block of 24 maisonettes which was knocked down in 2015.

Building work is being carried out by Hart Builders. The development has an approximate 40 week build time, meaning that the new homes should be completed in December 2018.


Construction’s finest prepare to be honoured at National Site Awards

The very best performing construction sites registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme are getting ready for the prestigious 2018 National Site Awards in April.

The National Site Awards recognise those registered sites that have shown the highest levels of consideration towards the public, the workforce and the environment.

Out of over 6500 eligible sites, 816 have been selected to win Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards, within each of the following project value bands: Band 1: Under £500k; Band 2: £500k to <£1m; Band 3: £1m to <£5m; Band 4: £5m to <£10m; Band 5: £10m to <£50m; and Band 6: £50m and over. One Gold Award winner per value band will also be given the prestigious title of ‘Most Considerate Site 2018’, with all shortlisted sites for this accolade receiving Runner-up Awards.

More than 3000 guests from construction sites of all different sizes will be attending award ceremonies taking place between 9 – 27 April in Edinburgh, London and Manchester.


Plans for new homes in Dundee

Dundee firm G.L. Residential is to build a mixture of two and three-bedroom properties at the former Seaview House in the city’s Victoria Road, if the plans are accepted by the local authority.

The building, described as “falling into disrepair”, sits adjacent to the new Seaview Primary School, which was completed in 2009. The firm said one of its priorities is to restore the existing listed building, which will be turned into seven properties.

These will consist of two two-bedroom apartments, and five two-bedroom townhouses.

A further three buildings will be built in the grounds of the site, two of which will have nine flats in them and one of which will contain six, all of which will have either two or three bedrooms.

The main building, built in 1860 by architect James MacLaren, became a listed building in 1989. Following its sale, two detached houses were built to the south of the main building in 2015.

Planning permission was previously approved in December 2013 for the conversion of the main school building to a single dwelling along with four new detached houses within the grounds, but the condition of the main school deteriorated badly after water leaked into the roof, after the theft of lead.

Associated works at the site will include the felling of trees, associated groundworks, and the construction of car parking and a grassy communal area. The development will be accessed via the main existing entrance from Hill Street and the additional entrance from Victoria Street.

Building Briefs – March 14th

Tom Templeman

Capital move for Graham + Sibbald as surveyor eyes further growth 

Chartered surveyor and property specialist Graham + Sibbald has relocated its Edinburgh office from Manor Place to 40 Torphichen Street, one of the city’s most modernised office developments in the regenerated Haymarket area of the capital.

The firm experienced an unprecedented level of activity in 2017 on the back of a new business rates system in Scotland and is actively advising hundreds of business owners across the country in relation to ongoing appeals.

Tim Bunker, one of the industry’s top rating specialists, joined from Ryden last March, Katherine Monro moved to the Aberdeen office from Knight Frank last month and Graham + Sibbald expects to add further people to the team in 2018 as the chartered surveyor targets a top spot in the sector.

In its latest hire, Graham + Sibbald has appointed Tom Templeman as head of building surveying for the East of Scotland.  Joining from Faithful + Gould and having previously spent a decade at DTZ (now Cushman & Wakefield), Templeman’s remit includes Edinburgh, Dundee, Fife and Aberdeen and will focus on strategic advice across a broad range of property types.

Having previously worked at Graham + Sibbald as a building surveyor between 1998 and 2002, he brings extensive commercial and public sector experience gained across the UK advising lenders, funds and investors around the surveying of buildings and assets including corporate headquarters, offices, hotels, shopping centres and retail parks.


Councillors agree to progress new Lossiemouth High build

Moray councillors have agreed to progress building of the new Lossiemouth High School.

Costs for the project had escalated due to the challenges presented by the build, including difficult ground conditions. However officers have been working to redesign elements of the school and, as agreed by councillors, the total extra cost to the council will now be £1.3 million.

Changes to the design have been made, but without compromising on classroom sizes or community facilities. Moray Council, with funding from the Scottish Futures Trust, remains committed to completing the build by June 2020 to include a new secondary school, community centre, library, 3G pitch and swimming pool.


St Mirren stars immortalised at Sanctuary Scotland development

The names of the former St Mirren stars to have a street named in their honour in new housing on the site of the club’s old Love Street ground have now been revealed.

Renfrewshire Council ran the #SaintsStreets competition which gave supporters the chance to name five streets at the new affordable housing development.

Work is already underway on the £17 million project being delivered by Sanctuary Scotland, in partnership with Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Government, to transform the site into 132 new affordable homes.

St Mirren-related suggestions came flooding in with 1000 whittled down by a judging panel into a final shortlist which went to the public vote earlier this month.

More than 6,000 votes were cast during the week-long poll before the following five names emerged as the winners:

  • Abercromby Avenue– marking the achievements of 1987 Scottish Cup winning captain and cult-hero Billy Abercromby, infamous for his no-nonsense approach.
  • Fitzpatrick Way– in honour of current club chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick who was also part of the 1987 Scottish Cup winning team and enjoyed two spells as manager.
  • McGarry Terrace– recognising forward Steven McGarry who helped the club he supports to the 2000 First Division title and in memory of his late father Tam, a well-known St Mirren supporter.
  • Saints Street– celebrating the affectionate name for all St Mirren supporters.
  • Yardley Avenue– named after popular striker Mark Yardley whose glut of goals propelled Saints into the top flight in 2000.

These five streets add to two already named ‘North Bank’ and ‘Cairter’s Corner’ after well-known sections of the old ground they sit on the locations of.

Sanctuary Scotland has also confirmed it will name the children’s play area at the new housing development after the club’s mascot Paisley Panda.


Fresh attempt to demolish former Dundee pub

New plans to finally demolish a former pub to make way for housing have been submitted to Dundee City Council.

The long-closed Jimmy Shand in Dickson Avenue, Menzieshill, is the subject of another application by MCD Construction Consultancy on behalf of Neil Findlay and Punch Taverns.

The new plans, if approved, will see the Shand demolished and six semi-detached houses constructed in its place. It is the latest in a series of attempts to finally develop the derelict pub, which closed in 2011.


CALA Homes donates defibrillator to East Lothian community

Malcolm Miller and Jenny Thomson

CALA Homes has donated a much-needed defibrillator for an East Lothian village.

Malcolm Miller decided to try and source a defibrillator for his local West Barns community after his mum, Mary, passed away as a result of heart issues aged 64.

The 29-year-old, who works as a project manager for an engineering company, initially decided that he would undertake a number of fundraising challenges in order to raise money to buy the life-saving device.

However, he also decided to send emails to a number of businesses to ask for their support and was stunned when CALA Homes responded to say it would step in to donate the life-saving equipment.

A defibrillator delivers a dose of electric current to the heart in order to try and shock the heart to stop so that it can start rhythmically pumping naturally again.

The device was ordered and delivered to CALA’s Castle Bay development, in Belhaven near Dunbar, where a delighted Malcolm was able to collect it.

It will now be placed within West Barns village to provide emergency treatment to anyone who take ill with heart problems in the town.


Clark Contracts builds donations for local foodbanks

Staff at construction, refurbishment and maintenance company Clark Contracts have held their third annual foodbank collection for The Trussell Trust.

The three week drive saw collection points set up at the company’s offices in Paisley and Edinburgh and over 30 building sites in Scotland.

Clark Contracts has previously held foodbank collections in December 2015 and 2016, donating over 1,000kg of food, but made the decision to move the collection to January this year following feedback from The Trussell Trust who advised that January and February continue to be one of the busiest periods of the year yet they receive fewer donations than in December.

The donations collected at Clark Contracts’ head office in Paisley were delivered to Renfrewshire Foodbank’s warehouse in Renfrew, whilst food collected in the company’s Edinburgh office and on sites across the country were delivered to local foodbanks.


Scottish Urban Students Forum event to discuss future of urban planning and the built environment

The Urban Society of Heriot-Watt University will be launching the first annual Scottish Urban Students Forum networking and speakers event on April 6 at the Scottish Poetry Library.

The theme for the inaugural networking and speakers event will be Perspectives in Placemaking: The future of Planning and the Built Environment for prospective new entrants to the industry.

The event will include keynote talks from Cliff Hague (full line-up to be confirmed), a Q+A panel of industry professionals and a networking event for students to engage with public and third sector professionals to discuss how to build the future of the built environment in Scotland.

If you are interested in this event, then book your place here to guarantee your place. This event has a limited number of spaces so be sure to book ahead.

Refreshments will be provided upon arrival.


Details are subject to change but the provisional programme will include:

  • A networking session with planning professionals, planning graduates and prospective planners.
  • A talk on Scottish public engagement in planning by Erin Fulton (PAS).
  • A Q+A Panel on the possibilities of the new Planning Bill and how incoming planners can work to improve the planning system and built environment outcomes.
  • A key-note speech on placemaking in the UK by Cliff Hague.


Scottish projects among winner of £25m 5G rollout competition

The UK government has announced the winners of a £25 million competition to pave the way for a future rollout of 5G technology in the UK.

From the Orkney Islands, Inverness-shire and Perthshire to the West of England and south Wales, the six projects led by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), universities and local authorities represent the best of UK innovation, resources and expertise.

They will test 5G across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, using the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) to improve healthcare in the home, increasing manufacturing productivity and maximising the future benefits of self-driving cars.

They are part of a £1 billion commitment through the government’s Digital Strategy to keep Britain at the forefront of connectivity by accelerating the deployment of next generation digital infrastructure and driving forward new 5G business opportunities.

5G RuralFirst, led by Cisco and lead partner University of Strathclyde, will deliver testbeds and trials to exploit 5G benefits for rural communities and industries like agriculture, broadcasting, and utilities, to address the challenges of and build the business case for 5G rural deployment.

Based primarily on the Orkney Islands, and in the farmlands of Shropshire and Somerset, the project will integrate spectrum sharing strategies for 5G; bringing connectivity to rural communities, enabling smart farming in partnership with Agri-Epi Centre (including drones, autonomous farm vehicles and remote veterinary inspections); innovative methods of delivering broadcast radio over 5G working with the BBC, alongside the delivery of 5G connectivity for IoT in utility and other industries in rural areas.

5GRIT will be trialling innovative use of 5G technology across a range of rural applications, such as smart agriculture, tourism and connecting poorly-served communities, using shared spectrum in the TV bands and a mix of local ISPs and self-provision.

The aim is to ultimately make high quality connectivity available across Cumbria, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Inverness-shire, Perthshire and Monmouthshire. Here the consortium will develop 5G-ready AR apps for tourists and investigate how high-bandwidth wireless connectivity can increase food production in farming, including through use of AR and an unmanned aerial system.


Last chance to apply for CALA’S £15,000 community bursary scheme

Organisations and projects across the West of Scotland looking for the chance to receive a share of £15,000 as part of the CALA Homes Community Bursary scheme are being urged to get their applications in before the closing date of March 23.

Now in its second year, the scheme aims to provide support for a wide range of charities, schools and good causes in the areas in which CALA operates. In 2017, 118 initiatives across the country received a share of more than £100,000, including homelessness charity The Kindness Project.

The £15,000 fund will be split into three £5,000 pots spanning Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire.

You can apply by downloading an application form from the CALA website.


New Year, New Home for Healthy Working Lives

Healthy Working Lives has launched its new website, allowing businesses across Scotland to access personalised advice to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of their workforce.

The new home of health, safety and wellbeing is packed with interactive features. And its fresh and concise new content structure will make it easier for businesses to find what they need, when they need it.

Healthy Working Lives is a free and confidential NHS service, delivered by NHS Health Scotland in partnership with Scotland’s 14 local NHS Boards.

One of the site’s highlights is the ability for people to create a personalised health and safety action plan for their business.

Take a tour of the new home of health, safety and wellbeing here.

Building Briefs – March 13th

Amenity housing project commences in Perth

Contractor CCG (Scotland) Ltd has commenced works on a new housing development in the centre of Perth.

Located on Crieff Road, the development will comprise 24 two-bedroom flats and is being delivered on behalf of Perth & Kinross Council. The development is expected to be completed in February 2019.

Crieff Road marks the sixth contract that the specialist construction firm has worked on with the council in less than 18 months, having already delivered 32 affordable homes in the region. Work is also underway for the council on a further 20 flats in Scone, a development that is due for completion in the spring.

All of the projects delivered by CCG for Perth & Kinross Council were procured through the NH1 New Build Framework from the Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA), the first of their kind in the country. Fully OJEU compliant, the NH1 Framework offers public sector clients a quicker and cost-effective route to approved contractors who offer design, supply and construction services for offsite manufactured panelised timber frame systems for new build housing.


Expert appointed to lead Edinburgh city centre revamp

The City of Edinburgh Council has appointed Daisy Narayanan to help deliver a major city centre transformation project.

As deputy director at Sustrans Scotland, Ms Narayanan is one of Scotland’s leading placemaking and transport experts.

With a wealth of experience in the placemaking, planning and transport sectors, she has taken up a one-year secondment as the local authority’s lead officer on the Central Edinburgh Transformation project.

The scheme is intended to improve the public realm in the city centre, as well as to improve conditions for access for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.


Holyrood set to hear more Planning Bill evidence

The local government and communities committee will hear from witnesses tomorrow on the proposed Planning Bill and whether this can be improved.

Some of the written submissions criticise the Bill, e.g. Built Environment Forum Scotland explains “the Bill could potentially weaken environmental protections” and National Trust for Scotland says “the bill appears to propose a reduction in community involvement in decisions affecting their area.”

A copy of the papers and submissions are available here.


£25m programme to address 4G ‘notspots’

The Scottish Government has launched a procurement process for a £25 million project to address mobile ‘notspots’ across Scotland.

The Scottish 4G Infill Programme will fund new mobile telephone masts in locations with no existing 4G mobile coverage to improve mobile connectivity for communities and businesses.

An initial 16 ‘notspot’ sites have been identified, and about 60 to 70 areas will be targeted throughout the project. The majority of the programme will focus on sites completely without coverage in the Highlands and Islands.

Connectivity secretary Fergus Ewing announced the launch of the procurement process at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands. Scottish Futures Trust has developed the programme on behalf of the Scottish Government.


Views sought over £18m Helensburgh leisure centre

Residents are being invited to give their views on plans to build an £18m waterfront leisure centre in Helensburgh.

If approved, the new centre would include a swimming pool and public space offering connections to Colquhoun Square. The scheme will also seek to being new life into the town’s waterfront.

Designs for the new centre have been put together by Darnton B3 Architecture.

Drop-in events are planned for 26 March, 30 April and 16 May, and will take place between 11am and 7pm at Victoria Halls.


Work to start on £350,000 road resurfacing near Newton Stewart

Scotland TranServ is to begin work on a £350,000 road resurfacing project in Dumfries and Galloway.

Around 2.5kms of the A75 near Newton Stewart will be repaired over two phases. Work will start at 7pm on Saturday, 17 March with the Benfield to Blackhill Croft stretch of carriageway. The second phase, West of Blackhill Croft will follow on, with completion by 7am on Friday, 30 March.


Electrification work complete on Cumbernauld – Bonnybridge line

Network Rail has completed electrification work on the line between Cumbernauld and Bonnybridge.

The 16 single-track kilometres of railway between Cumbernauld and Greenhill Lower has now went live. The scheme is a further a step towards connecting the line from Glasgow to Falkirk Grahamston to extend the running of electric trains.

In Autumn last year, work was completed to electrify 46 miles of the Edinburgh-Glasgow (via Falkirk High) line as part of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP).

Building Briefs – March 12th

New chairman and vice-chairman for renewable energy body

Scottish Renewables has announced the appointment of its new chairman and vice-chairman, as well as several new directors.

Rob Forrest, chief executive of renewable energy developer GreenPower, will take over as chairman, while David Cameron, head of Scottish Policy at EDF Energy, has been appointed vice-chairman.

Rob replaces Patricia Hawthorn, partner at UK law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, who had chaired the organisation since 2015. He was previously Scottish Renewables’ first chief executive, from 1999 to 2004.


Springfield Properties delivers 202 affordable homes in Edinburgh

Housebuilder Springfield Properties has delivered its £23 million affordable homes development at Muirhouse in Edinburgh in partnership with Dunedin Canmore and Muirhouse Housing Association.

The private and affordable housing provider has completed the final handover of 49-homes at the development, which is located near Muirhouse Shopping Centre.

Site manager Alan Banks, contracts manager Andy Simpson, assistant project manager Bobby Malek with Dunedin Canmore development officer James Bee

The 202 affordable homes – where construction began in 2012 – is now complete after a mix of one & two bedroom apartments, cottage flats and two & three bedroom terrace homes were delivered to social housing providers Dunedin Canmore, part of the Wheatley Group, and Muirhouse Housing Association.

Each home is highly energy efficient meeting sustainability building standards which keep running costs low. Householders can also keep on top of their energy usage using the ‘Current Cost’ smart energy meters that have been installed in each property.


Councillors hear plans for new Alexandria education campus

Councillors have noted plans to build a new £15.1 million Renton Primary School and invest £850,000 extensively refurbishing St Mary’s Primary in Alexandria.

A report presented to members of West Dunbartonshire Council’s educational services committee, detailed plans to construct a new Renton Primary and a Language and Communication Base for children with additional support needs. The new campus will include a new Riverside Early Learning and Childcare Centre, to be constructed on the grounds of the current school.

Members also moved forward with plans to upgrade and improve St Mary’s Primary School in Alexandria. Pupils will benefit from a new internal kitchen and dining area, replacing the temporary dining room which is currently located outwith the school building. The refurbishment will create a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) hub, which will equip children with essential skills for future modern careers, and also a new external state of the art Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) for outdoor sports.

Further engagement will take place with parents, carers and pupils at St Martin’s Primary with a report on the schools to be prepared and brought to the Education meeting in June.

Convener of educational services, Councillor Karen Conaghan, said: “These plans will see hundreds of children move from buildings that are in poor condition to be educated in modern learning environments.  Along with the new Renton Primary we will have a new purpose-built Language and Communications Base for children with additional support needs.”


Clackmannanshire Council agrees £55m capital budget programme

Councillors in Clackmannanshire have agreed spending on services for the year ahead as part of a budget setting process which seeks to protect priority services, while improving the financial sustainability of the council.

At a Special Council Meeting last week, councillors approved the revenue budget of £118.796 million to spend on services in 2018/2019. A capital budget programme of £54.972m was also agreed for the five year period until 2023, with over 70 projects in the plan including the creation of the new Tullibody South Campus, funding for improvements to schools, investment in roads and footpaths and regeneration in communities.

Savings of £7.376m have been approved to deal with the spending gap. Some of the savings relate to organisational redesign and associated management restructure within the council, including a 40% reduction in management posts. Staffing reductions will be made through voluntary means.  In addition there will be savings of £1.666m made through management efficiencies.

A number of CAPs and halls are to be offered to local communities with a view to achieving Community Asset Transfers in line with the Community Empowerment Act.

It was also agreed that Clackmannanshire’s Council Tax is to rise by 3%, with the new Band D rate set at £1,217.91.

Councillors also agreed a net resource transfer for adult social care of £16.041 million to the Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership.

Last month the council approved a five year business plan for the housing service, including 2% increase in rent levels for council houses.


Housing market activity flat, but prices rise as demand exceeds supply

Housing market activity in Scotland was flat in February as a shortage of properties becoming available for sale continued to result in an increasing number of potential new buyers being thwarted, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Residential Market Survey.

The number of properties coming onto the market (instructions to sell) failed to increase again in February, according to the survey, continuing a constrained supply trend that has been evident since 2015. As a result, newly agreed sales were flat last month, despite a rising number of new buyer enquiries.

Due to this gap between demand and availability, average house prices rose again, according to respondents, with a net balance of +31% of Scottish surveyors reporting increased values in the latest survey. This was significantly above the UK average and one of the highest readings of the UK nations and regions.

Encouragingly though, surveyors in Scotland are optimistic about the short-term outlook for activity in the market as we move into the spring months. A net balance of +39% of respondents expect the number of sales to increase in the three months ahead, from their low base, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that surveyors expect more potential vendors to bring their properties to the market when the weather improves.


Link Group achieves A+ credit rating

Independent credit ratings provider Standard & Poors (S&P) has awarded Link Group Ltd with an investment grade rating of A+.

Link has responded to the Scottish Government’s target to deliver 50,000 affordable homes for rent by 2021 with an ambitious development programme to build more than 3,200 homes within the next five years.

Although Link expects to receive more than £200 million of grant funding towards the delivery of the homes, the Association has estimated that will also require £180m in private investment. To assist in sourcing this funding Link undertook a credit rating assessment with S&P.

The credit agency was not only comfortable with Link as a long-term stable investment, but also with the Scottish Government’s support for Registered Social Landlords in general. Link is one of only two Scottish housing associations to obtain a credit rating (the other being Wheatley Group) and is one of a relatively small number of A+ rated housing associations throughout the UK.

Building Briefs – March 9th

Expert panel appointed to promote commercial property opportunities at Countesswells

FG Burnett, Savills and Shepherds have been appointed to advise on and market the diverse commercial property opportunities at Aberdeen’s newest community.

Following a competitive tendering process, the commercial property agents have been selected to assist in the delivery of the unique retail and commercial spaces to be created at Countesswells.

Each firm will be given specific tasks in the development of the new retail and commercial opportunities. They will also be required to identify and sell these opportunities to potential occupiers.

Countesswells, which represents a £800 million investment in the region, is a new town that will eventually comprise 3,000 homes, two primary schools and an academy, community facilities, retail and businesses, alongside civic spaces and a mix of landscaped and informal green space for around 7,000 people on the 400-acre site.

The development framework sets out a number of retail, commercial, community and educational facilities to serve the new population, and create an attractive location for visitors

The new town is being brought forward by Countesswells Development Limited (CDL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Milne Group, and backed by an innovative HM Treasury guarantee, which has enabled the up-front investment in and delivery of major infrastructure, including fibre optic cabling which offers the fastest broadband speeds in the country.

As well as a new Town Centre in the heart of the new community, there will also be a secondary neighbourhood centre, with retail and commercial opportunities for the firms to bring forward and deliver alongside the other non-residential elements such as the new health facility and schools. This will include an initial assessment and advising on the scale, design, location, timing and nature of individual development opportunities. The companies will also handle enquiries for retail and commercial floorspace as well as development land, which is already attracting interest from occupiers looking to move into the new community.

Work is about to get underway on the first neighbourhood centre within Countesswells, which has plans for a food store, ancillary food, non-food and service retail units. The neighbourhood centre lies towards the northern part of the site, at the junction of the two new access roads to be built, linking the site with the A944. This will be developed within the next two to three years. Land at this location has also been earmarked for a potential stand-alone office development.


Secondary pupils get first glimpse of Glasgow’s newest student accommodation development

Suzanne Stevenson, compliance manager, GRAHAM; Michael O’Rorke, technical teacher, King’s Park Secondary School; Dylan Allan, 15; Joe Lambie, project manager, GRAHAM; Jack Anderson, 16; Darren McNamara, 16; Dillon Fraser, 18; Reece McNeil, 17

A group of lucky teenagers from King’s Park Secondary School have been given a special tour of the Scotway House student accommodation development as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Five pupils took part in a tour of the site, which is currently being developed by GRAHAM Construction.

They learnt about the many different job roles working together to complete a construction project, showcasing the industry as a potential career option after they have finished school.

The youngsters also heard from Joe Lambie, project manager on the site, and apprentice Darren McHugh, who told the students about his time in the construction industry.

After leaving school at 17 and completing a vehicle body work repair course at college, Darren joined GRAHAM Construction as a labourer, moving on to a four-year apprenticeship after six months to become a qualified joiner.

Darren has now started a two-year apprenticeship as a trainee planner, attending college once a week to achieve a Higher National Certificate in Construction Management.

Dylan Allan, 15; Joe Lambie, project manager, GRAHAM; Darren McNamara, 16; Dillon Fraser, 18; Michael O’Rorke, technical teacher, King’s Park Secondary School; Jack Anderson, 16; Reece McNeil, 17; Suzanne Stevenson, compliance manager, GRAHAM

Scotway House is a 400 bed student accommodation development comprised of Studio and Cluster rooms across 15 floors.

Upon completion it will contain two restaurants, a library, individual study rooms, a bike storage and wash area as well as external terraced sections.

The B-listed Scotway House building was formerly the Meadowside Shipyard Office, which lay derelict for many years before being decimated by fire in 2016.

The property, built in 1885, was formerly a drawing office for engineers at the shipbuilding firm D&W Henderson.

Plans for several ocean-going liners, including the predecessor to Britannia, the Royal Yacht, were conceived there.

Breathing a new lease of life into the building, GRAHAM Construction is delivering the project on behalf of the Structured House Group and the project is due to finish in August 2019.


Apprentices talk of success at CCG

Grant Dolan (left) and Declan McAllister

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March), trade apprentices from one of Scotland’s largest construction firms talk about their life on the job and their studies.

Declan McAllister and Grant Dolan are part of a 71-strong group of trade apprentices that have embarked on a career path with Glasgow-based construction company, CCG (Scotland) Ltd.

The specialist firm offers a wide range of opportunities including plumbing, bricklaying and joinery trades as well as modern apprentice roles in administration, quantity surveying, health and safety and buying amongst others.

Declan, 21, is learning to become a bricklayer and is in his fourth and final year as a trade apprentice.

Grant Dolan, 20, is in his second year as a bricklayer who balances his time at Glasgow Kelvin College and on site based alongside Declan at an affordable housing development in the south side of Glasgow.

CCG is a provider of job opportunities and training and apprenticeship programmes. The business has 600 staff across a Group of five companies comprising construction, off-site manufacturing, timber window and doors manufacturing, planned maintenance and mechanical and electrical servicing.

In 2017, the CCG Group recruited 22 trade apprentices. Building on this in 2018, the business is committed to at least 15 trade apprentices and 16 management, professional and administration trainees.


McTaggart Group promotes its ‘Pride and Joy’

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2018, McTaggart Group has taken part in a Go Construct campaign which aims to encourage parents to consider construction as a positive career for their children.

Three members of McTaggart Group’s staff, including two apprentices, were filmed taking their parents to work and showing them what they do. Lori Shearer, an apprentice electrician with ABN Services, McTaggart’s plumbing, heating and electrical contracting business and Andrew Marshall, an apprentice bricklayer with McTaggart Construction, demonstrated what they’ve learned so far and the skills they now have.

Gary Climson, McTaggart’s managing director, said: “Promoting construction as a positive destination for young people is critical to ensure our industry has enough skilled resource, both now and in the future. We are delighted to be part of this campaign as we invest which targets parents who may not have considered it, particularly if they don’t work in construction themselves.”

The video is available on Go Construct’s YouTube channel and social media channels.


North Muirton pupils scoop World Book Day prize

Pupils from a local primary school have taken part in a World Book Day competition, run by regeneration firm Urban Union, celebrating the Muirton community.

School children from Primary 1 – Primary 7 at North Muirton Primary School were tasked to write a short story on the local area and what it means to them.  Over 100 pupils entered and judges, Urban Union, selected the best three stories with their authors receiving book vouchers for their efforts.

Leah Phillips (P3) and Elizabeth Edgar (P4) were joint winners of the competition, with their poem which focused on their favourite part of living in Muirton.  The highlights of the poem included the new park, visits from the ice cream van as well as all the shops and eateries in the area.

Second place was awarded to Daniel Taylor of P2, who accompanied his story with a picture of him playing football in the park.  While Ellie McLaren (P5) scooped third place for her short story about Muirton’s secret woods.


Places for People asset management business to launch £550m build-to-rent fund

A fund management arm set up by Places for People has set up a £550 million fund to target opportunities in the build-to-rent (BTR) sector across the UK.

It is hoped that the fund will help deliver 3,000 new homes.

PfP Capital said the fund will be seeded with three major residential development schemes across the UK, valued at £150m, which will be forward-funded through a special purpose vehicle, prior to introducing long-term capital through the fund.

Places for People became the first housing association to establish a distinct fund management capability with the launch PfP Capital last year.

Alex Notay, a director of product and service innovation at Places for People, will move across to manage the new fund.


Schemes to help stop flooding in Aberdeen

Construction on a new project, which is one of four around the Den Burn area in Aberdeen designed to help save houses and businesses in the neighbourhood and further downstream from being flooded, is starting within a month.

Aberdeen City Council is leading on the flood management and wetlands scheme at the Maidencraig, an area which was affected by flooding this week.

The scheme, which has BEGIN European funding from Intereg and a contribution from Bancon Homes, will create a new path between the Maidencraig housing development and Hazlehead which will be a raised path on a safe route to school, reduce the flood risk downstream, and create a new home for nature by forming a wetlands area.

The work includes the creation of a new path, construction of earth banks, relocation and opening-up of the tributary burn to create space for nature, installing new lighting, and replacing the temporary bridge over the Den Burn.

The path will be built on top of an earth bank of up to 2m high and will be about 5m wide, with shallow sloping sides. In order to safeguard properties downstream from flooding, the bank has also been designed to hold water back in storm events to a depth of up to 1m, and this will be achieved by replacing the temporary bridge with a new one and installing a large drainage pipe underneath. This aims to slow the flow of water in the Den Burn, allowing it to temporarily flood across the boggy area of the Den of Maidencraig during storms.

Temporary path routes around the site are to be put in place for you over the course of the works. The tributary burn coming off the hillside at the Lang Stracht is to be moved and opened up to improve the habitat for wildlife.

The Maidencraig project fits in with other similar flood alleviation, path and environmental schemes in the area, and the work stems from computer modelling carried out after the Den Burn flooded in previous years which pinpointed several areas which could be used to capture the extra water and hold it safely.

The other schemes to be build are Summerhill Swale & Miniature Wetland, and Fernielea School Sustainable Drainage (SuDS) Scheme, and a scheme at Stronsay Park was built in 2015, and these are designed to flood and store water during storms to protect properties downstream, and also have environmental improvements. Stronsay Park holds more than 30,000m³ of water, which is the equivalent of 80 swimming pools, and was the first of the schemes around the Den Burn to be constructed.


SELECT reaches out to wider social media sphere with introduction of new Facebook page

SELECT, the campaigning trade body for Scotland’s electrical sector, is widening its social media reach and strengthening its communications strategy with the introduction of a new Facebook page.

The new page will increase SELECT’s contact with its 1250 member companies and the 15,000 people employed by them, but also provide a great platform to interact with other Facebook users.

SELECT already has a strong presence and following on social media platforms such as Twitter and posts a huge variety of relevant information in video form on YouTube. Facebook will complement and enhance these activities.


GRAHAM Construction builds rapport with primary students

GRAHAM Construction has teamed up with St John’s Primary School in Edinburgh, in a bid to encourage more children to consider construction as a future career option, as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018.

More than 150 primary five to seven pupils, attended the event on Wednesday 7 March, hosted by four members of the GRAHAM Construction team.

The ‘My World of Work’ event was made up of workshops and activities designed to teach the students about the various roles within the industry.

The team was made up of an apprentice engineer, a planner, a quantity surveyor and a community benefits advisor– each giving the students an overview of their role and outlining the importance of these position when building a school.

The pupils, in groups of 12, made their way through each activity, working closely with the GRAHAM employees, asking questions about the industry along the way.

The new two-storey St John’s Primary School is being built on the site of the former Portobello High School in Edinburgh, and will provide accommodation for 15 purpose-built classrooms, a general purpose classroom, social space and excellent sporting facilities.

The £10 million project which started in June 2017 is planned to complete Summer 2018.

GRAHAM Construction was successfully appointed to Lots 7 and 8 of the four-year framework in December 2016. The City of Edinburgh Council awarded GRAHAM Construction the first project to be announced within Lot 8 of the council’s £223m Contractor Works Framework.

Later in the month, GRAHAM Construction is set to sponsor Waid Academy in Fife, to take part in the Go4Set project, a scheme that aims to inspire secondary school pupils to pursue vital careers in STEM subjects.

As part of this challenge, a team of pupils will work together to design a model for a sustainability project.

The students will also attend an industry visit to the University of St. Andrews, where GRAHAM Construction is refurbishing the University’s Andrew Melville Hall.


Building Briefs – March 7th

New primary school takes shape at Wallyford

Work on the new Wallyford Primary School in East Lothian is making good progress with the majority of its structural steel frame now complete.

The project is part of the new St Clements Wells mixed tenure housing development on the outskirt of the village and has an overall budget of £18.9 million.

Construction of the main foundations to the school, and the structural steel frame to the middle section of the school, has been completed. Two cranes are now on site to progress the remainder of the steel frame on either side of the central zone, and concrete floors and stairs are also being constructed in the central area. In addition, the new school car park has been formed, and work has started on the installation of the perimeter fence. Good progress is also being made on the construction of the new sports pitches. Roofing works and progression of external cladding works will also be progressed over the coming months.

The new school, which will replace the existing school building at Salters Road, will initially provide 28 classrooms, as well as 120 pre-school places. The new school will also include resources for wider use by the community and has been designed to provide access to the library, sports and other non- teaching facilities.

hub South East, East Lothian Council’s development partner, is delivering the project and Morrison Construction is the main contractor on site.

The new school should be complete early in 2019.


West Dunbartonshire Council commits £10m to road upgrades

More than £10 million is being invested to upgrade roads as part of West Dunbartonshire Council’s 2018/19 budget.

The £10.6m investment package will upgrade carriageway surfaces and also improve the structures of Balloch Bridge.

The plan for the new financial year will also see a £1m fund created to support apprenticeships and create routes into employment over the next four years.

A further £4m has been earmarked through the creation of a Heritage Capital Fund to improve Clydebank Town Hall, renovate Bruce Street Baths and reinvigorate other important Council assets across West Dunbartonshire.


DTZ Investors scoops up prime Sauchiehall Street retail units

DTZ Investors has acquired three prime retail units on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street from Legal & General in a £15.3 million sale brokered by Knight Frank and Montagu Evans.

The properties, which total 26,481 sq. ft., are located at 50 – 74 Sauchiehall Street and are currently let to Bank of Scotland, Poundland and well-known footwear chain, Dr Martens.

Knight Frank acted on behalf of Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets throughout the sale, while Montagu Evans represented DTZ Investors.


CMS Window Systems enters global spotlight with Scottish Green Apple Award win

CMS Window Systems chief operating officer, David Ritchie, with environmental officer Grace Waku

Cumbernauld-based CMS Window Systems has been recognised for its environmental excellence by winning a Scottish Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice 2018, and being chosen to represent the UK as a Green World Ambassador in the Green World Awards.

The window, door and curtain walling manufacturer and installer fought off stiff competition to win the Gold award at a special presentation ceremony which was held on Monday at the company’s pioneering Innovation Hub. The event was attended by more than 40 representatives from Green Apple Award winning businesses across Scotland, who all share a common goal in their commitment to minimising their impact on the environment.

In addition to putting CMS into the top flight of Scottish firms demonstrating environmental excellence, the award win also propels the company into the international spotlight. CMS has become a Green World Ambassador, meaning it will represent Scotland in the Green World Awards 2018 – a prestigious environmental awards programme that attracts entries from all around the world, with the trophies presented in a different country each year.

Winning in the 2018 Scottish Green Apple Awards is the latest in a string of accolades for CMS. The company won gold in the UK Green Apple Awards last year, and it was recognised at the highest level by being presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2017.


Plans to turn former Aberdeenshire hospital into homes

A former Aberdeenshire hospital could be transformed into homes.

Maud’s hospital closed its doors to patients in 2008 after serving the community for 148 years.

The 1867 B-listed building, which at one time had 135 beds for patients, was latterly sold at auction by the Scottish Government with a view to bringing it back into use. It could now be converted into a mixture of 11 one- and two-bedroom flats, and eight three and four-bedroom houses.

Plans submitted by Mintlaw firm Baxter Design detail shared access roads between the homes, green spaces and even a dedicated area of land for barbecues.


Emma Harper MSP visits BSW Timber to promote Scottish Apprenticeship Week

Emma Harper MSP (centre) meeting BSW Timber apprentices in Dalbeattie

Emma Harper visited apprentices from BSW Timber in Dalbeattie on Monday as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Apprentices from the firm participated in a meet and greet session with the MSP following a tour of BSW’s Dalbeattie site.

Tony Lockey, group learning & development manager, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity for our apprentices to meet Emma Harper MSP this week and we’re extremely grateful to her for taking the time to answer their questions.

“We’re passionate about helping our apprentices to get the most out of their time at BSW, and Scottish Apprenticeship Week truly gives us the opportunity to promote the value of our young people.”

Emma Harper MSP, added: “It was really interesting to meet the apprentices at BSW and to see the highly technical work they perform at the mill.”

BSW Timber apprentices will be taking part in a variety of events and activities during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, including participation in a DIY challenge at Drummond School, visiting Inverness College to promote work within the STEM industries and apprentices at the Earlston site will benefit from a visit from Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

BSW has also recently launched the UK’s first Saw Doctor Apprenticeship in partnership with Inverness College.


East Lothian Council purchases former Cockenzie Power Station site

East Lothian Council has been successful in its bid to purchase the former Cockenzie Power Station site.

Depute council leader Norman Hampshire said: “I am delighted at this outcome. This is a key site of huge importance to the economic future of East Lothian and for the communities that surround it. The council has been actively involved in discussions around the future of the site for a number of years now, since it became clear that Cockenzie Power Station was to be decommissioned and that plans for a gas-fired station would not be going ahead. Now that the future ownership of the site is clear, the council can move forward with marketing the site for commercial opportunities, which will form a key part of the planned economic growth within east Lothian.”

Mr Hampshire added that it is important to stress at this stage that community consultation will remain a key element of how we move forward and bring about more developed plans for what the site will be used for in the coming years.


Aboyne hotel’s plans for expansion approved

A North-east hotel’s plans to expand have been given the go-ahead.

The Boat Inn in Aboyne proposed to turn the adjoining Boat House into eight new rooms.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Marr area committee has approved the development after initially deferring the plans for a site visit.

The application was looking to change the use of a neighbouring property to form eight additional hotel rooms.

More than 20 objections against the plans were submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.


RSPB and Barratt extend partnership to give nature a home

A unique partnership between the RSPB and Barratt Homes has been renewed and extended for another three years. The partnership aims to deliver more wildlife friendly housing across Scotland, helping to give nature a home.

Barratt Scotland and the RSPB will work together to boost biodiversity and promote wildlife at a number of developments across Scotland. Through such initiatives as hedgehog highways, wild bee friendly planting and swift bricks, the aim of the partnership is to help all forms of wildlife and nature on new housing developments.

Over the last 50 years 56% of species have declined while 15% are at risk of disappearing from our shores altogether. With the country’s wildlife continuing to struggle the groundbreaking partnership between Europe’s largest nature conservation charity and the country’s largest housebuilder is setting the benchmark for nature friendly homes.

The first three years of the partnership have been a resounding success with both organisations working together to agree best practice on what are the best plants and shrubs to use in gardens, the best times in the year to survey local species and how to make good use of existing nature features on new developments. In addition the partnership is helping home owners by offering guidance and advice on how to help nature thrive.

The partnership has received particular praise for designing an innovative new swift brick to support the iconic birds with nesting sites in new homes. Other awards for the partnership over the last three years have included a What House silver award for best partnership scheme, a BIG biodiversity challenge award for showhome garden designs and a prestigious RSPCA animal hero award for its flagship sustainable development Kingsbrook.


Funding to preserve Dunbeath Broch 

An award of £21,014 from the Highland LEADER Programme is the last piece of the financial jigsaw required for a project which aims to conserve Dunbeath Broch in Caithness.

Neil Buchanan, chair of Berriedale & Dunbeath Community Council said: “Dunbeath Strath provides a walk with a variety of interest and is popular with local people, the wider Caithness community and visitors to the area.  The Strath is sheltered, picturesque, has a long and impressive history of human settlement and is rich in archaeological sites.  The best known of these are brochs – tall imposing circular drystone towers built over 2000 years ago – some of the most remarkable structures ever built in Britain.  Despite this richness very few Caithness brochs have been subject to modern excavation and dating and few are readily accessible or adequately presented.

“Dunbeath Broch is a Scheduled Monument and is the best preserved and most visited of several brochs in the Strath.  However, the broch is in need of conservation works to slow or prevent deterioration of the structure and assure safe access.  LEADER funding will allow us to undertake these works in partnership with a professional archaeological and conservation team.  The conservation and investigative works will also form the basis for an outreach programme for local schools and the community.”

Building Briefs – March 6th

Lindsay McQuade

ScottishPower and ScottishPower Renewables announce new CEOs

ScottishPower has appointed Keith Anderson as its new chief executive officer.

Mr Anderson previously worked as CEO of ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) and chief corporate officer of ScottishPower.

In his new role, he will be responsible for all ScottishPower businesses, and for the leadership of ScottishPower internally and externally.

Elsewhere, former director of policy & innovation, Lindsay McQuade, has been appointed CEO of SPR in the UK. She will oversee an operational portfolio of more than 40 windfarm sites, generating over two gigawatts of renewable energy, as well as the development of new projects.


Council unveils list of Aberdeenshire development sites

Aberdeenshire Council has published a list of available development sites in the region.

The ‘Site Prospectus’ gives an overview of more than 70 individual sites providing developers with settlement information and delivery considerations required to bring the site forward.

The main focus is on sites allocated for housing, from small scale housing sites allocated for up to 10 houses to large scale developments allocated for over 100 houses. In addition, some mixed allocations have also been included.

The ‘Site Prospectus’ has been drawn up to accompany the 2017 Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan. Photographs of the site in situ are also included to give potential developes an idea of an area they might not otherwise be familiar with.

To view the document on the council’s website, visit here.

Copies are also being sent out to housing developers and will also be available at all Planning area offices and on request from the Delivery Team.


Architect to appeal Dundee flats rejection

An architect has vowed to appeal against the rejection by Dundee City Council of a development of seven flats and an eatery.

Brunton Design had submitted a planning application on behalf of Handleflat Ltd to demolish an existing cafe in King Street, Broughty Ferry, and build a new complex in its place.

However, the local authority refused permission on the grounds the proposed development was “not of a sufficient quality” and would “constitute overdevelopment” of the area.

Allan Mudie, one of the partners at Brunton Design, told the Evening Telegraph: “We fundamentally disagree with the position the council has taken.

“We have tried for several months to arrange a meeting with planners to come up with a mutually agreeable solution, but they have refused, saying they didn’t think a meeting would be worthwhile.

“This is inconsistent with other applications we have on the go, so we are quite mystified.

“They mentioned overdevelopment, but that site has already been used for a restaurant, albeit one that is no longer open.

“We have had no public objections and the site is currently an eyesore, with people flytipping there. Surely it’s better to have something that will create jobs and stimulate the local economy?

“We are going to appeal this decision.”


Proposals for £20m care home and housing development unveiled for Stornoway

Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) and Western Isles Council are preparing plans for a £20 million project to build a care home and 50 homes, according to reports.

The Press & Journal has said that the proposed development will include a 52-bed care home and 50 housing units with extra care on the greenfield site on the isle of Lewis.

The partners hope to identify a contractor in November and plan to be on site at Goathill Farm near Stornoway by December, allowing the build to be completed by September 2020.

Master planning for the site concluded that there is also scope to provide 62 affordable housing units on the land outwith the residential care and housing with extra care development.

It is the intention to submit a full planning application by June.

At present the council and housing partnership are consulting with contractors on the best way to deliver the project.

Potential contractors are meeting with the project team at the beginning of this month.

Documents issued by the authority and the housing partnership state that they are trying to gauge interest across national, regional and local supply chain markets and seek expressions of interest from companies not only interested in the role of main contractor but also potential sub-contractors.


Melville to deliver £2.7m worth of home upgrades over coming year

More than 250 Melville Housing Association households are to receive new kitchens over the next 12 months as part of a major £2.7 million investment programme, one of the largest upgrades to tenants’ homes in recent years.

This latest phase in Melville’s kitchen replacement drive means that over a three year period ending on 31 March 2019, more than a third of all Melville properties will have had new kitchens fitted.

As well as kitchen upgrades, which will focus on Mayfield and Poltonhall in Midlothian and Forth in South Lanarkshire, this year’s investment will also pay for 70 new bathrooms, 95 new heating systems and 50 replacement roofs.

Details of Melville’s 2018/19 planned maintenance programme are currently being finalised. All Melville tenants due a home upgrade will be contacted closer to the time.


Scotbeef secures £4m grant to expand Inverurie facility

Food processing company Scotbeef has secured a £4 million grant to expand its business operations.

The Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) will got towards a £17m investment project to build a new abattoir and meat-processing facility at Thainstone Business Park in Inverurie.

Building Briefs – March 5th

Morrison Construction project nominated for prestigious planning award

The £48.5m Wick Community Campus built by Morrison Construction has been announced as a finalist at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018.

The project will compete in the category for Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy against eight other finalists from across the UK with the winner to be announced during a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall on 24 May.

Designed by Ryder Architecture, the campus was opened to pupils in April 2017, replacing Wick High School, South Primary and Pultneytown Academy Primary School while providing a new library and swimming pool for pupils, teachers and the wider community.

The project has been nominated for a major award before winning Gold in the ‘Best Education Project‘ category at the 2015 Partnerships Awards.


More than 220 affordable homes to be built in Moray by 2020

Moray Council is on track to build more than 220 affordable homes by 2020, the local authority has revealed.

The target is to build 70 each financial year between 2017 and 2020, and Moray Council is looking to exceed this by creating affordable homes in Forres, Buckie, Elgin and Keith.

During 2017/18 completions at Burdshaugh in Forres, Barrhill Road in Buckie and Linkwood in Elgin saw 47 homes built.

This year developments in Ferrylea and Strathcona Road in Forres, and the Driving Range and Linkwood in Elgin will see another 68 completions, with 108 completions scheduled for 2019/20 at Elgin South, Barhill Road in Buckie and Banff Road in Keith – bringing the total over the three years to 223.

It’s been confirmed that the 2017/18 developments at Burdshaugh and Barhill Road have been completed within budget, and it’s expected that all current contracts will also come in within budget.

At tomorrow’s meeting of Moray Council’s communities committee, elected members will be asked for approval to progress land purchases at sites in Buckie and Mosstodloch, which already have planning permission for a total of 87 homes. If agreed by the communities committee, further approval from the policy & resources committee would be sought later this month.


Funding secured to develop Fraserburgh enterprise hub

More than £101,000 of funding has been awarded to develop a new enterprise hub in Fraserburgh.

Aberdeenshire Council has agreed to back the project via a £1.137 million fund set up in 2016 to support projects that help to regenerate the town over a five-year period. So far, over half of this money has been allocated to projects in Fraserburgh.

The enterprise hub will be based in the refurbished council chamber and former police station in Saltoun Square. To be known as The Faithlie Centre, it will provide help and support for local residents thinking about starting or growing their business. Run in partnership between the council and Elevator, the facility will provide specialist business advice, referrals and free desk space with computers to entrepreneurs.

In addition to the council’s investment, other funding totalling nearly £8.5m has been secured for regeneration projects in Fraserburgh since 2014. This money comes from a variety of sources including the Scottish Government, Lottery Programmes, European funding, private investment and local fund-raising.

Projects that have been supported by Aberdeenshire Council’s regeneration programme include the new South Links running and football development, Fraserburgh Fitness Centre, Super Saturdays and Active Fraserburgh events, improvements to public areas and buildings in the town centre – including the mosaics in the Saltoun Square arcade, new housing projects, the harbour pontoons and the Fraserburgh Cinema.


Highland Council plans to install solar panels across estate

The Highland Council has revealed plans to install solar panels across its estate.

The project will generate more than £4 million over the course of 20 years as well as helping to cut down on carbon emissions.

The local authority’s corporate resources committee approved a self-financing project to use £2.3m of capital to install 2.5 megawatts of solar panels on sites across the council estate.

It is estimated a net profit of up to £4.01m will be generated over the next two decades, after repayments for the £2.3m investment have been made and accounting for maintenance, insurance, fees and charges. In addition, around 1,000-tonnes of carbon emissions will be reduced.

The commercial & continual improvement team will now work with the energy and sustainability team, councillors and building users to confirm the optimal locations for the panel sites and coordinate implementation.


Work starts on £2.7m Kilmarnock railway station upgrade

Work has started on a £2.7 million railway station upgrade project in Kilmarnock.

Network Rail is aiming to create step-free access to platforms one, three and four from the existing Kilmarnock station underpass via newly installed lifts, which will be built and installed over a nine-month period.

Features include lowering, regrading and resurfacing the underpass and renewing staircases and handrails to ensure they are appropriate to modern accessibility standards.

Work is scheduled to complete by December.


RJ McLeod delivers Falkirk High station car park

RJ McLeod has completed work on a new £858,000 car park at Falkirk High station.

An additional 61 car parking spaces have been created for commuters and travellers on a 2,500m2 site off the B803 Slamannan Road, bringing the total number of dedicated car parking spaces available to 416.

Features include new lighting, CCTV and a cycle rack installed as well as new pedestrian access via an underpass/path on Drossie Road.

The project was mainly funded by Falkirk Council with contributions from the ScotRail Alliance and the Scottish Stations Fund. The new car park opened last week.


Scottish Water launches consultation on future services and spending

Scottish Water has launched a six-month public consultation to help define its services and spending priorities.

Communities across Scotland are being invited to submit their views on the utility’s proposals and ambitions over the next 25 years.

Three key ambitions have been outlined to underpin the company’s activities:

  • Delivering a consistently leading customer experience
  • Keeping customer prices low by driving further innovation and efficiency through smart investment choices
  • Increasing the reliability, resilience and sustainability of our services to new and emerging challenges.

In addition, views are being sought on how Scottish Water supports growth in Scotland’s economy and population through expansion of its infrastructure and networks, as well as views on how the company becomes more resource efficient, low carbon and socially sustainable. Other issues such as the impact of climate change and the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation and innovation will be factors in the company’s activities.

Full details of the ambitions are set out in a new publication – Shaping the Future.

The consultation is open until August and responses will help form Scottish Water’s planning for the future.

To view the consultation, visit online at


New start dates for new Inverclyde schools

Pupils at three Inverclyde primary schools being transformed as part of a £270 million Council investment have been told when they can expect to move in.

A brand new £9.2m St Ninian’s in Gourock is close to completion along with the refurbishments of Moorfoot Primary (£5million) in Gourock and Lady Alice Primary (£3.8m) in Greenock.

A fourth school – St Mary’s Primary in Greenock – will decant into the former Sacred Heart primary school ahead of a £6m refurbishment.

Both the Moorfoot and Lady Alice projects have been slightly delayed after contractors ran into unforeseen issues on-site and work was also hampered by the recent bad weather.

The delay to the completion of Moorfoot who are currently using the former Sacred Heart school building has had a knock-on effect on St Mary’s Primary who are due to move in to Sacred Heart ahead of their school’s refurbishment.

School Provisional Closure Planned Closure First Day in School
St Ninian’s 18 June – 20 June 28 June and 16 August – 17 August 20 August
Lady Alice 30 May – 1 June 28 June and 16 August – 17 August 20 August
Moorfoot 17 April – 19 April 30 May – 1 June 4 June
St Mary’s 30 May – 1 June 28 June and 18 August – 17 August 20 August