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Scotland’s first artificial surf park gets planning green light

Image credit HarrisonStevens

Planning permission has been secured to develop Scotland’s first man-made surf park in Edinburgh.

Leisure company Wavegarden Scotland will now transform the disused Craigpark Quarry near Ratho into a ‘world-class’ surfing and family leisure facility, complete with an artificial lake with revolutionary new wave technology developed by Wavegarden in Spain – the company behind the technology used at Surf Snowdonia.

The proposal, which had already received overwhelmingly positive feedback from public consultation events held last year, has been masterplanned and designed by landscape architects HarrisonStevens, with engineering and technical consultation provided by WSP, and planning and development advice by Colliers International.

Alongside the surfing facility, Wavegarden Scotland also includes a surf school, self-catering luxury guest lodges, glamping pods, a waterfront café and restaurant, retail spaces, zip line, water tubing area, integrated natural play, bike skills track, and a snow-sports training jump.

Image credit HarrisonStevens

Andy Hadden, the co-founder of Tartan Leisure Ltd, which is developing Wavegarden Scotland said: “We are thrilled that the plans for Wavegarden Scotland have been approved. We believe that this facility will deliver many benefits for the local community and for Scotland by offering world-class adventure leisure amenities alongside a wonderful country park, for walkers, runners and cyclists to enjoy. Alongside this, we expect to create up to 130 jobs and generate up to £11m for the local economy every year.

“Another very exciting aspect of Wavegarden Scotland is the opportunity to nurture surfing and sporting talent. With Scotland’s own surfing team starting to make a mark on the global surf scene, we hope to inspire the next generation of surfers, life guards, and active outdoor enthusiasts.”

Using recently released, state-of-the-art wave generation technology called The Cove, Wavegarden Scotland will be among the most advanced surfing and water sport facilities in the world, with the capability to enable elite-level sports training and development.

Andrew McNab, director of Colliers International, handled the development’s planning application and said: “Wavegarden Scotland will provide a huge economic boost to Ratho and the surrounding area. We welcome the decision and we are thrilled with the outcome, from the very beginning the consultations received a very positive reception, so to hear that the application has been given the green light is fantastic.”

Image credit Creative Scope

Martin Stevens, director of HarrisonStevens, the landscape architects behind Wavegarden Scotland’s design, said: “This is a unique and exciting project, combining the natural ecology, heritage and character of the area with world-class leisure and sporting facilities. Wavegarden Scotland will be a positive community asset for generations to come and help put Scotland on the map in adventure leisure whilst showcasing the benefits of truly landscape-led, context-driven masterplanning.”

Paul Robertson, principal engineer at WSP, said: “Wavegarden is an exciting and ground-breaking project, which will require complex technical support.  WSP has a solid track record of delivering complex multi-disciplinary projects and we keenly anticipate tackling the engineering challenges associated with this exciting addition to the leisure sector in Scotland.”

Located beside the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Wavegarden Scotland will develop existing integrated transportation and leisure links, including with the nearby canal network, into the heart of Edinburgh as well as the wider central belt.

Working group formed to ensure long-term future for housebuilding skills

Professor Sean Smith will chair the new working group

The Scottish Government is to work with key stakeholders to ensure the right skills are available for housing and construction developments.

A short life working group on housing construction skills will meet for the first time on Thursday, bringing together organisations with expertise in skills, housing and construction.

The group will be chaired by Professor Sean Smith, director of sustainable construction at Napier University. It will gather evidence about the skills requirements and challenges facing the industry and make recommendations towards the end of this year.

The group’s first meeting is set to discuss draft terms of reference with tasks expected to include:

  • consider home building skills provision, gaps, and workforce development needs
  • assess available data to objectively make recommendations on the actions needed to tackle immediate priorities
  • agree longer term approaches that enables industry and the Government to plan with clarity for future skills needs

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes over this Parliament, backed by £3 billion – the single biggest investment, and delivery of, affordable housing since devolution.

“That is expected to support up to 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs across housing and construction. Our short-life working group, delivered in partnership with industry, will help inform the actions needed to ensure we have the necessary workforce continue to increase the supply of affordable homes across Scotland.

“I am delighted that Professor Sean Smith has agreed to chair the group, bringing with him a wealth of expertise in skills mapping. Together with key stakeholders from across the construction and housing sectors, ensure the right skills are available for house building across Scotland.”

Professor Smith added: “I am delighted to chair the group for future housing and construction skills. Housing plays a crucial role for our communities and the delivery of economic and inclusive growth, with the sector is highly dependent on skilled workforce supply at all levels.

“As the sector moves forward to deliver the future homes this will require traditional and new types of skill sets. The group will have the opportunity to hear from industry organisations and companies on the key skills and training they require for the future.”

The full membership of the group

Name Organisation
Dr Sean Smith (Chair) Napier University
Calum Murray CCG
Stephen Good CSIC
Rohan Bush CSIC
John Keenan CITB
Vaughan Hart Scottish Building Federation
Gordon Nelson FMB Scotland
Audrey Cumberford West College Scotland
John Renwick Energy Skills Partnership
Susan Hudson Stewart Milne
Alan Cadenhead Miller Homes
Heather Henderson Springfield Properties
Diane Kemp Springfield Properties
Colin Culross Link Group
Karen Campbell Homes for Scotland
Michael Barton-Maynard Homes for Scotland
Stephen Sheridan Skills Development Scotland

More than 60,000 UK construction firms under ‘significant’ financial distress

The number construction business in ‘significant’ risk of insolvency throughout the UK has increased by more than a quarter since last year, according to new figures.

Begbies Traynor’s Red Flag Alert research for the first quarter of 2018, which monitors the financial health of UK companies, found that 60,541 construction businesses experienced ‘significant’ financial distress at the end of March 2018, up 33% compared with when Article 50 was triggered on March 29 last year (Q1 2017: 358,943).

The picture is even worse for companies in the support services sector, with a 40% rise in the number in distress to 115,249, while real estate & property firms in distress increased by 46% to reach 41,624.

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “While uncertainty around the outcome of the Brexit negotiations has undoubtedly had an impact on business confidence across the UK, the economy has also faced a wide range of unexpected headwinds which have dampened progress over the past year. Currency fluctuations, rising interest rates, subdued consumer spending and a cooling property market are just some of the factors that have combined with growing political uncertainty to push nearly half a million UK businesses into financial distress over the past 12 months.

“Should these headwinds continue, they could impact the Government’s bargaining power when it comes to negotiating new trade deals after the UK’s exit from the European Union, which would be a major concern.”

“Brexit concerns and the fallout from Carillion’s collapse caused further delays in large infrastructure and construction projects.”

Ric Traynor, Begbies Traynor

Ric Traynor, executive chairman of Begbies Traynor, added: “Although the UK economy is still growing, it is now starting to lag behind many other G20 members, with predicted GDP growth during 2018 of around 1.7%. The latest Red Flag figures reflect this slowdown with increased financial distress being felt across every sector and region of the UK.

“The UK’s crucial Services sector experienced a major slowdown last month, as the impact of snow disruption, inflation and Brexit-related uncertainty hit output across the sector, while the Automotive industry has also experienced a downward trend, with declining car sales, job cuts and growing fears about restrictive future trade barriers with Europe. At the same time, the UK Construction sector last month suffered its biggest drop in activity since the 2016 Referendum vote, as Brexit concerns and the fallout from Carillion’s collapse caused further delays in large infrastructure and construction projects.

“While the recent recovery in Sterling should put UK businesses who import raw materials into a stronger trading position, the biggest positive impact on business confidence is likely to come when we finally receive clarity over how our eventual exit from the EU will look. In the short term however, the most pressing issue is whether or not the Bank of England decides to raise interest rates next month. If they do, it could push many struggling businesses, particularly those with high levels of debt, into formal insolvency.”

Ken Pattullo

Year on year ‘significant’ distress in Scotland alone affected many sectors with the worst hit being telecommunications (57% rise); professional services (50%); leisure and culture (47%); and financial services (46%).  The strongest performing sectors were: hotels and accommodation, up by just 8%; bars and restaurants (15%); food and drink retail (16%); and printing (17%).

Ken Pattullo, who leads Begbies Traynor in Scotland, said: “To see such a dramatic rise in significant distress since last year, both in Scotland and across the whole of the UK, is extremely worrying. Amid continuing concerns about the impact of Brexit and falling confidence among businesses and consumers, the prospects for the British economy in the year ahead look far from promising.

“With economic growth predicted to continue to lag behind that of the other G7 nations in 2018, there seems little hope of a change in fortunes and directors would be well advised to keep a close eye on cash flow and seek professional help at the first signs of trouble when the widest choice of options will be open to them.”

Councillors back plans for 500 new homes and primary school in Elgin

The first phase of a development which will eventually bring 1,500 new homes to Elgin has been given the green light.

Moray Council yesterday approved plans for 500 homes, cycle paths and a new primary school at Findrassie on the northern edge of the town.

With an anticipated development period of 25 years, Findrassie is expected to feature 1,500 houses, community facilities, a primary school and a twelve hectare business park within several distinct phases.

Landowner Pitgaveny Estate revealed a public consultation would begin shortly as developer Barratt draws up final plans.

Co-owner Crinan Dunbar said: “The approval importantly provides a landmark opportunity for us all to see the wider vision for Findrassie, which has been carefully shaped and informed to respect the landscape and community, come one step closer.”

The application was unanimously approved at a meeting of the council’s planning committee.

Head of development services, Jim Grant, explained that alterations may be necessary if the A96 Aberdeen to Inverness dualling route passes to the north of the town.

Space has also been provided on the site for a farm shop, cafe and other retail space for firms to expand into.

John Cowe, chairman of the council’s economic development committee, said: “This is just the first step for what should be a big boost for Elgin and Moray.

“Another primary school is important and it ties in with a lot of our aspirations with the growth deal.”

Kier Construction named preferred building contractor for Citizens Theatre redevelopment

Kier Construction has been confirmed as the preferred contractor to deliver the first stage of the Citizens Theatre’s £19.4 million redevelopment project in Glasgow following a competitive tender process.

In what will be the most comprehensive redevelopment of the Victorian building since it opened in 1878, the theatre will close in the summer and re-open in late 2020 with works due to commence on site in September.

Commenting on the appointment of Kier, Judith Kilvington, executive director of Citizens Theatre, said: “This appointment marks the next phase in our Redevelopment Project. Kier has a wealth of experience in delivering theatre and heritage projects and it’s hugely exciting to be welcoming them to the team, led by architects Bennetts Associates, to realise our vision for the Citizens Theatre.

“Kier will work alongside Citizens Theatre and our Design Team in achieving the Second Stage tender and will then go on to carry out the required building work to overhaul our Victorian home – alongside overseeing the demolition of our foyer and back offices to make way for a new wing, including a new studio theatre and learning spaces.

“Our new building has been redesigned to create level access for staff, participants and audiences members. When we re-open to the public they will easily be able to visit and view some of the best examples of theatre heritage in Europe.”

Brian McQuade, Kier Construction Scotland and North East managing director, said: “We’re delighted to restore, improve and protect the iconic Citizens Theatre.  This builds on our solid record of working on major heritage projects, including The Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, Aberdeen Music Hall and most recently, The Burrell Collection.

“As with all the work we carry out, we will provide jobs for the local community by working with our supply chain to offer a range of diverse employment and training opportunities throughout this exciting project. “

The Category B listed building is owned by Glasgow City Council and leased to the Citizens Theatre Company for more than 70 years.

Over the next two years the company will produce shows and provide learning activity at Tramway, Scotland Street School Museum and other venues throughout Scotland and beyond.

The company has already successfully secured £17.8m in pledges towards the redevelopment project from Creative Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government (Culture Budget, Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and Historic Environment Scotland), The Robertson Trust and a variety of other trusts and individuals. The theatre’s ‘We Are Citizens’ public fundraising campaign is inspiring, engaging, and encouraging others to help raise £1.6m for the building redevelopment.

The redevelopment project management team includes:

  • Project Manager tX-2 Project Management
  • Architects Bennetts Associates
  • Quantity Surveyors Turner & Townsend
  • Structural Engineers Struer Consulting
  • M&E Engineers and Environmental Consultants Max Fordham
  • Theatre Consultants Theatreplan
  • Conservation Consultant Theatre Search
  • Conservation ArchitectIan Parsons Architects
  • Acoustician Sandy Brown Associates
  • Fire Engineer Atelier Ten
  • Access Consultant ADAPT Access Services
  • BREEAM Consultant RSP
  • Interpretation Plan & Exhibition Design Consultants Studio SP and Making Stories

Plans revealed for £5m football-themed homeless complex

Proposals have been unveiled to build a football-themed self management and personal development centre for people experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh.

The brainchild of Street Soccer Scotland founder David Duke, the Change Centre could see 32 en-suite bedrooms, living facilities and a community hub with six football pitches created at Morgan Playing Fields off Peffermill Road.

A public consultation has been launched today to seek the views of residents with the complex expected to cost around £5 million to create.

David Duke, who has personal experience of homelessness, has produced a plan in order to give homeless people the three essential things he believes they need in order to turn their lives around – security, relationships and purpose.

He said: “The Change Centre can change lives for the better and get people back on their feet for good. It will offer hope, relationships and purpose, but much more than that it’ll break away some of the misconceptions around homelessness.

“We don’t want the Change Centre to be just another place offering a roof for people who are homeless. We want to be part of the community, working with locals and users of the Change Centre to build trust and understanding.”

The centre would be run using a social enterprise model, with those referred to the centre working alongside staff. Up to 30 jobs could be created as part of the proposals.

The motto for the centre will be ‘the journey home starts here’ and will offer local people use of the facilities including a café and learning zones, as well as opportunities for local children and young people to use the centre, such as local schools and sports clubs.

David added: “The personal development programme would get the residents to help run the community facility by volunteering, cleaning, cooking, receptionist, football coaching and more. These will help their core skills for moving on to their own home and for getting employment. This is different to anything that has been done before.

“Residents will be recommended through the city council and other agencies with a decision based on suitability. They don’t have to like football as there are other things to get involved with.

“We want to rehome residents but only when they feel comfortable. There will be continued support after residents have moved out and would still be able to volunteer.”

A planning application has yet to be submitted, however developers are preparing a community asset transfer request for the land, with the fields owned by City of Edinburgh Council.

If approved, the Change Centre would be situated at the home of Edinburgh South Community Football Club, which already serves around 650 players in and around the community.

Edinburgh South Community Football Club chairman, Brian Waugh, said: “We are firmly rooted in the community, with most of the coaches within our ranks living and working in the area. We pride ourselves in welcoming footballers of all ages, genders, background and ability to the club.

“When we first learned of Street Soccer Scotland’s search for a location to make an investment, we saw an opportunity to pool the resources of both organisations and contribute to a proposal which would maximise the potential of the site and deliver maximum value to not only our club, but the whole local community.”

“We believe the Change Centre will do just that. Through collaboration, the Change Centre will help homeless people to find a purpose and direction in a community organisation.

“We hope that this can be an example of football bringing change for people who need it most, as well as benefiting our local community.”

Police launch second investigation into £380m North Ayrshire schools PFI deal

St Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats

A Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) deal to build schools in North Ayrshire is to be investigated by police for the second time over concerns regarding the bidding process.

The £380 million project to build four schools in the region was signed in 2007 and attracted two bids but, according to the Sunday Post, campaigners fear councillors only considered one to “allow the pretence of competition”.

This is because the firm in question was a newly-formed company with no accounts, offices or any track record in construction, the newspaper added.

A complaint about the bidding process was made in 2006 and the Crown Office instructed the then Strathclyde Police to carry out an investigation but concluded there was no evidence of criminality.

Last month, North Ayrshire councillors authorised the local authority’s chief executive Elma Murray to write to Police Scotland to ask them to reopen the investigation.

Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland can confirm the issues raised by North Ayrshire Council are currently being reviewed by the Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit.”

Former independent MSP Campbell Martin, who has made a documentary about the issue called The Only Game In Town, said: “There was no ‘genuine competition’. In fact, there was no competition whatsoever.”

Four schools – St Matthew’s Academy, Greenwood Academy, Arran High and Stanley Primary – were built under the Labour-led Scottish Executive in 2007.

The first and winning bid for the project was from the First Class Consortium which included Mitie and Hochtief.

A second bid came from CES, which was registered to the address of an accountant in Fife.

At the time, campaigners raised concerns about the viability of the second bidder as it had filed no accounts and had issued share capital valued at just £2.

It later emerged that in its bid document, CES, had indicated it was a subsidiary of a Singapore-based company, CPG Corporation, but this firm denied it had anything to do with CES.

CES has now been dissolved.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesman said: “We will cooperate fully with Police Scotland during their investigation.”

A Freedom of Information request by GMB Scotland in April 2016 revealed that the local authority had a bill of over £1m a month to ensure the upkeep of the four schools.

Green light for £15m Inverurie sports complex

Proposals for a £15 million community sports complex in Inverurie have been given the go ahead by local councillors.

Plans to expand the existing Garioch Sports Centre with a range of indoor and outdoor facilities were approved last week by Aberdeenshire Council.

Designed by Lippe Architects, new facilities planned for the 25-acre sports centre site include an all-weather stadium suitable for football and rugby and a second all-weather pitch, an enlarged gymnasium, fitness rooms, a kids barn, youth hub and also an early learning and childcare setting for up to 40 children.

It will also now include three new indoor tennis pitches, after Judy Murray, the mother of tennis stars Andy and Jamie, was asked to get involved in the design process.

The complex will cost between £12-15 million and will be developed in phases, with various funding sources being pursued.

The sale of Inverurie Locos Harlaw Park will help finance some of the costs, with the Locos moving to a new home at the stadium where they will become a tenant of the Sports Trust.

Graeme Hay, director of the Garioch Sports Centre, said: “We’re delighted that Aberdeenshire Council have approved our planning application. “This allows us to progress external funding applications straight away.

“Our ambitions remain the same and we’re committed to providing much needed sports and community facilities for Inverurie and beyond.” Mr Hay added: “The hard work really begins now.”

All images provided courtesy of Lippe Architects

Capsule hotel planned at A-listed former Royal Mile jail

Developers are hoping to transform a former court and jail in Edinburgh into a ‘capsule hotel’.

Edinburgh-based Code, which already runs a hotel in the Scottish capital, wants to turn the A-listed former district court and cells at 1a Parliament Square on the Royal Mile into modern pod-style accommodation.

It is proposed that the majority of the existing Georgian building pattern will be kept with the original features and the character of the courthouse and cells exposed to create the boutique hotel.

It is also planned to reinstate many of the existing blocked up windows and recreate the original, historic entrance door in the building currently used mainly for storage.

Code said that the accommodation will appeal to ‘responsible green travellers’ with young Chinese tourists high on the list of target markets.

The applicant’s supporting statement stated: “The existing building is inefficiently utilised given the original design of the building for holding cells and court rooms.

“This proposal by Code seeks to utilise and celebrate the historic fabric of the building through ensuring that every possible aspect of the building is put to good use.

“It is the historic and original use of the building which excites Code and would be used as a key component of the marketing and theme of the new hotel to provide a unique visitor experience.

“Given the number of younger visitors travelling to Edinburgh it is surprising not to see more good modern, high quality hostels in operation.”

The design statement added: “Code are currently looking to provide additional accommodation within their home city, Edinburgh, with the proposals to create a world class boutique pod hotel at 1a Parliament Square.

“This would act as the firm’s flagship property and company headquarters.

“Code are tapping into a trend towards boutique pod-style accommodation in Europe, mirroring its success in Asia,where the hostels help meet the demand for high quality affordable overnight stays in high-density urban areas.

“Code prides itself on working with local business within Edinburgh which includes software developers, designers and architects, and want to take local suppliers on their journey with them.”

Andrew Landsburgh from Code, which also has the Code Capsule Hotel off Rose Street, told the Herald: “Our pod hotel concept is taking off and highly popular.

“We are expanding the successful brand with our second location in Edinburgh.

“This unique venue, in such an iconic Old Town location, will be a great boost to this expanding market particularly with overseas visitors.”

The refit could start this autumn if approved.

Electricity reinforcement scheme named Scottish Project of the Year at RICS awards

The £1.1 billion Caithness-Moray transmission link was named the overall Scotland Project of the Year

Over 25 of Scotland’s most impressive and community beneficial building projects battled it out for top honours at the 2018 RICS awards, where the Caithness-Moray electricity network reinforcement took the overall Project of the YearScotland title.

Held at The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh yesterday, the annual RICS Awards 2018, Scotland celebrate inspirational initiatives in the land, property and construction sectors across eight category awards.

The highly acclaimed Scotland Project of the Year accolade is presented to the category winner that demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to its local area.

The project also took home the Infrastructure category award

The project, which has energized the initial section of the £1.1 billion Caithness-Moray transmission link, won the Infrastructure category award before being named the overall Scotland Project of the Year.

Head judge of the RICS Awards in Scotland, Colin Smith MRICS, said: “The network reinforcement highlights the importance of a long-term investment commitment to energy production and its transmission from the connection of remote wind farms in Caithness along the sea bed to the north-east corner of Scotland.

“This highly technical project required a significant degree of logistical planning, project management, safety procedures and engagement with the local community. This project is a leading exemplar for the need and benefits of investing in Scotland’s infrastructure.”

Commercial category award winner ScottishPower House in Glasgow

Other category winners include ScottishPower House, Glasgow, in the Commercial category, Marischal Square, Aberdeen, which took the accolade for Regeneration, and Countesswells, Aberdeen, taking the award for the Residential category.

The ScottishPower project saw consolidation of 1,650 staff from several different ScottishPower operating businesses into its new headquarters, an impressive achievement alone, but the design strategy and procurement route used to deliver the building proved equally impressive to the judging panel.

Colin Smith said: “The design of the building was fully tested pre-construction and the city centre location drove the need to develop innovative off-site manufacturing processes that minimised material storage and deliveries whilst accelerating construction.”

The Residential category was won by the Countesswells project in Aberdeen

Countesswells won the Residential category, providing an example of a large-scale housing development being funded by innovative means utilising a UK Treasury guarantee that has allowed certainty and confidence to invest in a significant amount of up-front infrastructure and environmental works.

Director of RICS in Scotland, Gail Hunter, said: “Residents in Countesswells are taking ownership of completed spaces by becoming members of the management company responsible for maintaining new public spaces and allowing them to own and control the land’s future use.”

Colin Smith added: “The regeneration of Marischal Square is transformational for Aberdeen City Centre.  It has reversed the negative impacts of the building it replaced and delivered a mixed-use development that has enhanced the setting of two of the city’s most important heritage assets.

“The significance of the new office space is heightened by its Aberdeen context, where such development has in recent decades been lost to the urban fringe. Marischal Square will help Aberdeen City Centre to capture the benefits of the economic success of the city region.”

Aberdeen’s Marischal Square was awarded the prize for Regeneration

6 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, was also Highly Commended within the Commercial category. Other category winners include Appleton Tower, Edinburgh, in the Design through Innovation category, Falls of Shin, Lairg, which took the accolade for Tourism & Leisure.

Gail Hunter said: “I would like to congratulate all winners of the RICS Awards, and the high quality of projects shortlisted, demonstrating the calibre of built environment work taking place across Scotland. The winners showcase schemes, from billion pound investments to locally funded community projects, all of which have a positive impact on their region and wider economy.”

All category winners will go on to compete against regional winners from across the UK at the national RICS Awards Grand Final on 2 November 2018 in London, for the chance to be crowned the overall UK winner in their respective category.

RICS Awards 2018, Scotland – Winners

Building Conservation

Winner – St. Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh


Winner – ScottishPower House, Glasgow

Community Benefit

Winner – Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, Dunfermline

Design through Innovation

Winner – Appleton Tower, Edinburgh


Winner – Caithness-Moray Electricity Network Reinforcement


Winner – Marischal Square, Aberdeen


Winner – Countesswells, Aberdeen

Tourism & Leisure

Winner – Falls of Shin, Lairg 

Project of the Year

Winner – Caithness-Moray Electricity Network Reinforcement