Posts that are added to this category will appear in the slider atop the homepage. Make sure to set a Featured Image (through the Themify Builder panel). And make sure they are a member of another category too.

New Aberdeen stadium plans will not be called in by ministers

Aberdeen City Council’s decision to allow planning approval for Aberdeen Football Club’s new stadium at Kingsford will not be called in by ministers, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The decision paves the way for the football club to replace its current home of Pittodrie with a £50 million stadium and training complex the other side of the city at Westhill.

Councillors in Aberdeen overwhelmingly approved plans for the development in January by 32 votes to nine after accepting the recommendation of planners to approve the project.

However the stadium plan has divided opinion in Aberdeen, with slightly over half of residents in favour of the relocation.

Aberdeenshire Council had also objected to the plans on parking grounds among others and, in doing so, ensured formal notification had to be given to Scottish ministers, who then had the opportunity to call in the application for determination.

But today the Scottish Government has told Aberdeen City Council that planning decision should rest with the local authority.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has written to Aberdeen City Council today to say it is not going to call in the Kingsford Stadium planning decision, leaving it for the council to determine the planning application.

“The Scottish Government said in the notification that the issues raised by Aberdeenshire Council ‘are not of national significance to have bearing’ on the decision not to call it in.

“The notification further said the Scottish Government expects Aberdeen City Council to have regard to the matters raised by Aberdeenshire Council. We will accordingly consider these matters and liaise with colleagues at Aberdeenshire Council on these matters as necessary.”

Reacting to the news, AFC chairman Stewart Milne said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s confirmation that Aberdeen City Council can proceed to determine our planning application. We are keen to begin construction of the community and training facilities as soon as possible.

“The next step is to progress the terms of the legal agreement with Aberdeen City Council and work with all stakeholders on agreeing and meeting the conditions.

“We will continue to work with the City, Aberdeenshire Council and the community in the lead up to and during construction. Together, we can deliver a first-class facility to be proud of that will unlock the potential of the Club, the Trust and the next generation of football stars, while making a positive contribution to the local economy.”

Avant secures three new development opportunities worth £80m

David Knight, Avant Homes Scotland managing director

Stirling-based housebuilder Avant Homes Scotland has secured three new development opportunities in the past 15 months, which will create up to 180 sales, construction and sub-contractor jobs in the region.

With a combined value of £80 million, the three new sites in Cairneyhill, Gartcosh and Bishopton will provide for a further 299 homes to be built by the company throughout the region.

The new sites in Scotland will enable Avant Homes to continue accelerating toward its target of becoming a £500m turnover, 2,000-unit business across its operations in central Scotland, north east England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Recent research by construction industry intelligence provider Glenigan showed that Avant Homes was one of only three UK housebuilders consistently applying for sites with volumes exceeding 150 units during 2017.

Avant Homes Scotland managing director, David Knight, said: “We are on a fast-moving trajectory and our momentum can only be maintained by securing new sites in the right locations and for the best price.

“Our land buying team in Scotland has been outstanding over the past 15 months in finding excellent development opportunities and this has provided the platform for continued sustainable, profitable growth.

“The fact that as a group we were one of only three UK housebuilders regularly applying for sites with more than 150 units during last year is important. It shows both our ambition and the continued growing demand for our product throughout Scotland and our operations.”

The news follows Avant Homes’ announcement in August last year that it secured an enhanced £200m facility from HSBC, RBS, Santander and Bank of Ireland to significantly increase the housebuilder’s land acquisitions over the next 12-month period.

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

This performance led to Avant Homes being named as the 46th fastest growing private mid-market company in The Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league tables.

Wilmott Dixon poised to win £8.9m Dundee community facility tender

Work on a new £13.2 million community facility in Dundee could start as soon as next month if councillors approve an £8.9m tender.

Wilmott Dixon’s bid to build a new multi-use community centre with two games halls, fitness suite, library and community multi-purpose rooms and areas, complete with cafe, is being recommended for approval.

Designed over two storeys, the building in Menzieshill will have a total floor area of around 3100m².

Lynne Short, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “Many of the positive things I have done in my life can be traced back to spending countless happy hours at Menzieshill Community Centre when I was wee.

“Facilities like this don’t just benefit our children for the few hours a day or week that they are there, but for years into the future when the friendships they make, the life lessons they learn and the physical activities they enjoy help to create happy, healthy adults.”

According to a report to be considered by Dundee City Council’s city development committee on Monday, the total projected cost of the new Menzieshill Community Project will be £13.2m when fees, land purchase, furniture, landscaping and other elements are taken into account.

In this contract Willmott Dixon’s sub-contractors’ Robertson Construction and all its sub-contractors will pay the Scottish Living Wage as a minimum to all employees actively employed on the site.

The new community facility is expected to take around a year to build.

87 more Carillion workers made redundant

Another 87 former workers have lost their jobs at collapsed construction giant Carillion, taking the total so far to almost 1,460.

A spokesperson for the Official Receiver, which is the body handling the construction and services firm’s liquidation, said on Monday that a further 150 employees had now been transferred to suppliers that had picked up contracts previously held by Carillion.

That means that 8,216 employees, 45% of the pre-liquidation workforce, have now been given “secure ongoing employment” since the company was placed into liquidation in January.

However the latest round of redundancies means that a total of 1,458 individuals have now lost their jobs as a result of the firm’s failure.

A spokesperson for the Official Receiver said: “A further 150 employees will transfer to new suppliers who have picked up contracts that Carillion had been delivering. Close to half (45%) of the pre-liquidation workforce have now been found secure ongoing employment.

“Regrettably we have been unable to find ongoing employment for a further 87 employees who will leave the business later this week. Jobcentre Plus’ RapidResponse Service will provide them with every support to find new work and they are also entitled to make a claim for statutory redundancy payments.

“Discussions with potential purchasers continue. I am continuing to engage with staff, elected employee representatives and unions to keep them informed as these arrangements are confirmed.”

Subcontractor wins High Court case against Morrison Construction

Morrison Construction has lost a High Court case against one of its subcontractors regarding changes made during the development of a gas processing plant in Shetland.

Steel firm BHC Ltd successfully argued that change orders issued by Morrison should be re-measured and re-valued based on “final construction drawings”.

Total E&P Limited had engaged Petrofac Facilities Management Limited to carry out the construction of the gas processing plant, for the processing of hydrocarbon from the Laggan and Tormore gas condensate fields off the coast of the Shetland Isles.

Morrison had been appointed by Petrofac as a sub-contractor to carry out civil engineering and building works as part of the construction of the plant and had in-turn engaged BHC to carry out structural steelwork (including associated design works), roof and wall cladding, and precast concrete flooring works for buildings to be constructed as part of the project.

The original contract provided for only three buildings to be constructed, namely, the administrative building, the gatehouse and a workshop, but it was anticipated by the parties that additional buildings would be required to provide shelter for items of plant. During the project, 33 additional shelter buildings were instructed by change order instructions (COIs) issued under the contract

The dispute arose between the parties as to the basis on which the works carried out pursuant to the COIs should be valued or measured.

The principal issue was whether these variations, properly construed, provided for re-measurement of the entire works contained in the change order, or alternatively whether the starting point for measurement was to take the lump sum quote and to make additions to and omissions from that quote, a process known as ad-measurement.

Justice Farrell concluded that the price quoted by Morrison in each change order should now be re-measured and re-valued in accordance with the agreements made by both parties in each of the COI.

A Morrison Construction spokesman said: “Morrison Construction treats all its subcontractors in a fair and professional manner and we will take cognisance of the court’s decision.”

Robertson selected for £4.5m Inverness life sciences building

Robertson Northern has been appointed to construct a new £4.5 million building on Inverness Campus to support growth in life sciences and technology sectors.

Inverness Campus developer Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned the firm to build the new 2460 m2 facility. It will be called ‘Solasta House’ and will offer flexible laboratory and office space for new and expanding companies.

The new building is expected to take around a year to complete, and will provided much needed accommodation to meet growing demand.

Five companies – Aqua Pharma, 4C Engineering, Interactive Health, CorporateHealth International and Aseptium – already have space in the existing life sciences building, Aurora House. This is also the home for the business accelerator programme, Pathfinder. The level of interest in the remaining space suggests Aurora House could be full by the summer.

At least 40% of the cost of the Solasta House will be met by the European Regional Development Fund, with the remainder coming from HIE. The building will sit within the life sciences Enterprise Area, which offers incentives such as rates relief to attract companies into the region.

Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE’s Inverness Campus project director, said: “Inverness Campus is proving to be an attractive and dynamic location for many life sciences and technology businesses. The availability of modern flexible premises, proximity to the university, the NHS and other partners, and increasing opportunities for collaboration appeals to both existing and prospective tenants.

“Having welcomed several new firms onto the Campus over the past year or two, we are now in discussion with prospective tenants for both the remaining space in Aurora House and space in Solasta House. This reflects the attraction of Inverness Campus to investors and businesses, as well as the continued growth in the life sciences sector in our region.”

Solasta House was designed by Threesixty Architecture and received planning consent in April 2017.

The 215-acre Inverness Campus site is designed to provide a range of academic, research and commercial opportunities, with an emphasis on the life sciences sector.

Frank Reid, managing director, Robertson Northern, said: “It’s with great pleasure that we are, once again, involved in the development of HIE’s Inverness Campus.

“Having previously built two phases of student accommodation on the campus site, we will be starting construction of Solasta House, a new purpose built Life Sciences and Technology building.

“Construction will begin later this month and during our time on site, we will continue to engage with students, outlining the opportunities that are available within the construction industry as part of our ongoing commitment to young people.”

Keppie-designed mental health facility in north Glasgow submitted for planning

Keppie Design has submitted detailed proposals for a mental health estate in north Glasgow.

The project for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde comprises a new Acute Admissions Unit (AAU) and Hospital Based Complex Clinical Care Unit (CCC) in the grounds of Stobhill Hospital.

Appointed by hub West Scotland to deliver the development, Keppie said the prominence of the site affords great opportunities for the design of the new units to become a positive, welcoming and therapeutic addition to the campus, instead of being hidden away like so many mental health facilities.

The practice added: “The aim of the design is to exploit the surrounding context and focus on connection with outside space. The overriding design driver is to facilitate key stakeholder requirements such as a feeling of openness and light throughout the facility, views of green space and easy, safe access to therapeutic external spaces. A strong visual connection is created with the existing listed Water Tower – the main orientation and focal point on site.”

Andrew Baillie from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “I am delighted that we have reached this landmark stage for this new mental health facility on the Stobhill Campus, by our development partner hub West Scotland and their architect Keppie Design. This contemporary healthcare facility will provide high quality accommodation for adults and older people within Glasgow who require continuing mental health care.”

Ian Marley, CEO of hub West Scotland, added: “The standard of our health projects is extremely high with 14 industry awards accrued to date. This complex project is no exception comprising of two bespoke designed buildings to meet different challenges that sit together harmoniously on one site. We are proud of the quality and functionality of the designs.”

Keppie is providing architecture and interior design, while mechanical and electrical design is by RSP, structural design is by BakerHicks and Austin Smith-Lord is on landscape design. Armours are the project’s cost consultants while BAM Construction is the appointed contractor

The project is expected to be complete by March 2020.

£40m co-living project could end 15-year Merchant City planning stalemate

Glasgow city centre is to have a £40 million co-living building that will provide a gateway to the Merchant City and a focal point for regeneration of the East End, under plans submitted by developers.

Merchant Point, at the corner of the High Street and George Street, will include shops, offices and restaurants as well as 401 private-rent bedrooms for students and young professionals.

Developers are to set-up a £250,000 social entrepreneur fund, offering new businesses start-up funding and free use of office space and other facilities to help them become established.

Glasgow-based Structured House Group (SHG), which is behind plans, said it will provide a boost to the local economy as well as much needed accommodation.

SHG took over responsibility for developing the area after a 15 year-long attempt by Glasgow entrepreneur and publican Colin Beattie to turn the site into an Ashton Lane-style piazza of bars and restaurants came to nothing.

Members of Glasgow City Council’s planning applications committee will be asked to approve the 12-storey building on the site, when it meets in May.

Included in the plans is a commitment to retain a refurbished version of the Old College Bar, believe to be the city’s oldest, and to reproduce its current interior in an identical form.

The complex will also feature eateries and retail outlets as well as co-working offices where local businesses and university start-ups can utilise the space and raise start-up capital.

Craig Inglis, chief executive of SHG, said: “We have spent a long time working to get the look of this development right to ensure that it stands as a recognisable beacon of regeneration.

“Merchant Point will be a visible manifestation of the great work that is going on in the East End to help it reach its full potential.  It will be a community in itself, with retail, leisure and business functions, all generating additional income for the area.

“An area of the building will be set aside as a free-to-use hub for young local businesses, dedicated to supporting interesting and exciting start-ups and university spin-out companies.

“Giving those fledgling businesses free office space and other facilities will help them through an important stage of their development.”

The plans include removing the interior of The Old College Bar and creating a snug that will give locals a perfect replica of the bar as a refreshed version that will allow it to continue with its long running license.

Mr Inglis added: “There has been a lot of publicity around this proposal because of the bar but that has overlooked what a fantastic addition this will be to the city centre and to the local economy.

“As a Glasgow-based company, we have enormous respect for the city’s built heritage and the important place The Old College Bar holds in its history.

“For that reason, we were happy to work with city council planners, universities and local businesses on a building which, if approved, will stand tall as an entrance to the city from the east.

Mr Beattie, owner of Oran Mor and the Lismore as well as The Old College Bar, has given his backing to the scheme.

Mr Inglis added: “There’s no disguising the poor fabric of the bar building as it stands, so we will have to replace it.

“Our amended plans aim to retain as much of the character and charm of the existing pub but to put it on a footing that’s appropriate for today to safeguard its future, hopefully for the next century.”

South Ayrshire Council agrees eight-year £237m capital programme

A new eight-year capital investment programme which sets out total investment of almost £237 million until 2025/26 was agreed by South Ayrshire Council yesterday.

Key features of the programme include more than £43 million strategic investment in ICT and £3m more in 2018/19 for road reconstruction and improvement.

An additional £12m for a new ‘all-through’ campus at Carrick Academy was also agreed, taking the budget to more than £19m as part of a total investment package of more than £74m in the education estate

A £1m package to support Maybole town centre regeneration, £750,000 to support the implementation of 20 mile per hour speed limits in towns and villages and £855,000 to improve public toilet provision made up the spending programme.

Also agreed yesterday was a £186 million revenue budget for 2018/19 includes additional investment in key areas that support the council’s vision for Our People, Our Place. This includes:

  • Increasing the school clothing grant by 50% to £75 pounds (£66,000)
  • £65,000 to support the schools at the heart of the community project and to provide additional holiday activities for schools in the most socially-disadvantaged areas
  • £20,000 to reinstate a fund to support community galas
  • £17,000 to cover the letting costs for breakfast clubs in our schools
  • Supporting the development of place plans for the five towns and villages programme, with £100,000 for improved signage and community engagement
  • £75,000 to support staff training and retraining initiatives to ensure the council can deliver the right services in the best possible way.

Councillors agreed the use of £1.5m of uncommitted reserves for revenue spending, and a further £3m from uncommitted reserves split evenly between the Repairs and Renewals Fund and the Capital Fund.

They also approved funding of £71m pounds for the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, which is an increase of 2.5% on previous years.

Council leader Douglas Campbell said: “What we have agreed today is an unprecedented budget for this Council – a budget that has been shaped by our people, for our people.

“It’s the outcome of consultation and engagement with thousands of people across South Ayrshire who took the time to have their say – and who we have listened and responded to. As a result, this budget genuinely balances the resources we have with the services and facilities people want and need, and I want to thank those people for their participation.

“From the outset last year, we have been clear as an administration about what matters to us and that is our people and our places. They sit at the heart of everything we do and the ambitions we have not just for the Council, but for the whole South Ayrshire area.

“We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, through this budget, we are laying the foundations for a strengthened South Ayrshire that works for all, but especially the most in need.

“I’m pleased we have addressed the restrictions of the current financial climate head-on, while taking steps to ensure the impact and burden of balancing the budget doesn’t fall on those least able to pay.

“That’s not been easy, and we’ve had to do this while meeting necessary costs like pay awards for staff and increased contractual costs – all of which impacts on how much we have to spend.

“That’s why we can be proud that we have agreed a balanced budget today that not only bridges the challenging budget gap we’ve had to meet, but also provides an ambitious programme of investment that will improve lives and make a difference where it matters most.

“This budget invests in our vision, in our people, and in our places to create a strong, sustainable South Ayrshire – and that’s something we all want to see.”

Full details of the budget can be found here.

Leasehold scandal hits profits at Taylor Wimpey

Taylor Wimpey has seen its profits take a £105 million hit due to the cost of addressing the leasehold scandal.

The housebuilder announced in April 2017 that it was setting aside £130m to compensate customers affected by onerous leaseholds on their properties. It transpired that Taylor Wimpey was one of a number of firms to have sold freeholds to third party investment companies who then increased the ground rents.

The exceptional charge led to stated profits falling 5.8% to £555.3m, but stripping this out profit was up around £60m.

The FTSE 100 housebuilder delivered a 7.9% increase in revenue in 2017, to £3.96 billion, with pre-tax profits up 10.7% to £812m. This was helped by a 3.5% increase in the average selling price, to £264,000. Completions for the group in 2017 were up 4.6% to 14,842.

Chief executive Pete Redfern said: “2017 was another strong year for Taylor Wimpey and we enter 2018 in a good position with positive forward momentum. We have been encouraged by early trading patterns at the start to the year and despite some wider macroeconomic uncertainty, consumer confidence remains robust and market fundamentals are solid.

“We grew volumes to nearly 15,000 homes during the year and are focused on delivering much-needed homes across the UK to the highest quality and standard. Importantly, we are pleased to see that our investment in customer service has resulted in a notable improvement in our customer satisfaction scores.”