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£80m strategic energy blueprint unveiled with 50% clean energy pledge by 2030

The Scottish Government has published the country’s first Energy Strategy which it said will strengthen the development of local energy, empower and protect consumers, and support climate change efforts while tackling fuel poverty.

The strategy includes a range of actions, including a £20 million Energy Investment Fund, which will build on the success of the Renewable Energy Investment Fund, and a £60m Low Carbon Innovation Fund, to provide dedicated support for renewable and low carbon infrastructure over and above wider interventions to support innovation across the economy.

An open consultation was conducted at the beginning of the year which drew over 250 substantive responses. Those detailed responses, as well as feedback from the Scottish Energy Advisory Board and responses to further consultations on the onshore wind policy statement, local heat and energy efficiency strategies, regulation of district heating, and unconventional oil and gas, have helped shape, inform and influence the strategy.

The strategy’s six strategic priorities include:

  • Promote consumer engagement and protect consumers from excessive costs
  • Champion Scotland’s renewable energy potential, creating new jobs and supply chain opportunities
  • Improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes, buildings, industrial processes and manufacturing
  • Continue to support investment and innovation across our oil and gas sector, including exploration, innovation, subsea engineering, decommissioning and carbon capture and storage
  • Ensure homes and businesses can continue to depend on secure, resilient and flexible energy supplies
  • Empower communities by supporting innovative local energy systems and networks

During a statement to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, business, energy and innovation minister, Paul Wheelhouse, also announced that the latest figures from the Energy Saving Trust show a 12% increase in the level of community and locally owned renewable capacity operating in Scotland, which now sits at more than 660MW.

Wide engagement and public consultation on a publicly owned energy company is planned for 2018. The aim is that this company will support economic development and contribute to tackling fuel poverty, as well as being run on a not-for-profit basis.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Scotland has world class skills, expertise and knowledge, from the North Sea oil and gas industry to our academic institutions and smaller start-ups to our cutting edge low carbon technology.

“This strategy recognises and builds on our achievements to date and on Scotland’s capacity for innovation. It places consumers, and their interests, more firmly than ever at the heart of everything that we do.

“We are leading the way in promoting community and locally owned renewable energy – well ahead of the rest of the UK – as figures announced today demonstrate.

“This strategy will guide decisions of the Scottish Government over the coming decades. We want to make sure, within the scope of our devolved powers, good stewardship of Scotland’s energy sector – something we have called the UK government to step up to for years.”

Responding to the publication, Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “It’s great to see the Scottish Government cement its ambitions to deliver half of our energy from renewable sources by 2030. In uncertain times for investment, it is a strong statement that Scotland is open for low-carbon business and plans to build on its fantastic progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors.

“A transformation in how we heat our homes and offices, how we travel to work and school, and how we power our industries will generate many social and economic benefits. Independent research for WWF Scotland shows that this is necessary to deliver climate change targets and can be delivered with existing technologies.

“To ensure a truly effective, joined-up strategy, more effort needs to be put into developing policy to reduce our demand for energy in the first place. The Scottish Government needs to enable people to get out of their cars, insulate their homes and improve the energy efficiency of their businesses. With growing demand for the Climate Change Bill to increase our ambition in line with the Paris Agreement, a clearer vision and bold, substantive policies will be needed more than ever. The final Climate Change Plan, due in February, should be the real test of whether this strategy is given teeth.”

Sam Ghibaldan, head of the Consumer Futures Unit (CFU) at Citizens Advice Scotland, stressed the importance of consumer engagement and protection as the first theme of the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy.

He said: “As we journey to a low carbon future the energy market will be disrupted, and consumers’ interests should be put first as new structures and technologies are adopted.

“New systems must be easily understood by householders, and their rights must be clear. The CFU, as the independent energy consumer advocate, will ensure the consumer voice is heard during the development of energy efficiency and district heating policy, and in other areas addressed by the energy strategy.

“As the energy system of the future evolves it is critical that consumers are considered, empowered and protected if change is going to succeed.”

Scottish Renewables said the new renewable energy target contained the strategy shows “huge ambition”.

The goal, suggested by the industry body in January 2016, will see half of all energy – for heat, transport and electricity – coming from renewable sources by 2030.

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, added: “Scotland’s first Energy Strategy heralds a new era for the energy system used by us all, and provides a roadmap for others to follow.

“For the first time, the Scottish Government has set out a holistic plan for how we produce and use energy, breaking down the barriers between electricity, heat and transport.

“The huge ambition of the new target is to be commended. The Strategy creates a framework for us as an industry, Scotland’s policymakers and the public to think in different ways about energy supply and demand.

“It should also provide much-needed impetus to tackle issues like the decarbonisation of our heat supply, levels of fuel poverty and the challenges presented by the roll-out of electric vehicles.

“Of particular note is the 50% renewable energy target contained in the Strategy, which sends a strong signal to industry that renewables should take its place the heart of our economy.

“Previous targets laid the foundation for the rapid growth of Scotland’s renewable energy industry – an industry which already employs 26,000 people, invests hundreds of millions of pounds every year and displaces the equivalent carbon emissions of our entire transport sector.

“This new target has the potential to do the same not just for the continued growth of our renewable electricity sector but also for heat and transport, where action to decarbonise is urgently needed.”

Stewart Milne Homes builds new senior team to gear up for new Central Belt developments

(from left) Gary Milne, Grant Kirkhope, Stuart Henderson and Gerry More

Stewart Milne Homes has strengthened its senior team as it gears up for major growth in the Central Belt with eight land acquisitions in the pipeline in the next six months.

The housebuilder, which aims to deliver 500 new homes in the Central Belt every year, said it will be investing significantly in purchasing land for new developments and securing planning consents. It will also be starting on sites which have been granted permission such as 77 new flats and townhouses at Cathcart on the south side of Glasgow, and 68 detached family homes at Pentcaitland in East Lothian.

Stuart Henderson will lead the housebuilder’s goal of being at the forefront of designing the very best homes and neighbourhoods across central Scotland in the newly created role of design director. A qualified architect, Stuart has worked at Stewart Milne Homes for 17 years, during which time the house-builder has won numerous awards for design and quality.

Formerly land director, Gary Milne has been appointed technical director to head up a team which provides engineering support to the land, design and construction parts of the business. A Chartered Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Gary joined Stewart Milne Group in 2001 and sits on the Board of Stewart Milne Homes.

Finally, Grant Kirkhope moves from a strategic group role to join Stewart Milne Homes as land director, responsible for identifying, appraising and delivering land opportunities across the region. Grant joined Stewart Milne Group from Persimmon Homes in 2014.

These internal succession appointments follow the recent appointment of Bryan Galloway as construction director.

Managing director Gerry More said: “These changes now ensure that we have a robust structure to fully capitalise on the new opportunities in the Central Belt, where we are adding attractive sites in the east of Scotland to our strong pipeline of developments in the West.

“With distinct teams in design and technical, working closely with the land team, we will have an increased focus on the front-end of our business to make sure site infrastructure works start in an effective and efficient manner. Ultimately, this will accelerate the delivery of much-needed homes across the country in line with government policy.”

Cladding to be removed from second Glasgow hospital

The Royal Hospital for Children with the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in the background

The Royal Hospital for Children has become the second hospital in Glasgow to announce the removal of external cladding as a precautionary measure.

Documents reported in The Herald state a “further issue” had been identified in external cladding used at the children’s hospital, but added the risk level was “extremely low”.

The move comes months after it emerged similar insulation panels to those used on the Grenfell Tower were involved in the building of the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) on the same site.

Work is due to get under way in the New Year to replace panels at the QEUH.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said discussions were continuing about how to replace the panels at the children’s hospital.

The documents said: “Health Facilities Scotland and the main hospital contractor Multiplex had confirmed a further cladding issue on the Royal Hospital for Children had emerged [and] it was intended to replace the affected panels as a precautionary measure.”

A spokesman for NHSGGC said: “Discussions continue with the hospital developer Multiplex about the replacement options available for Royal Hospital for Children.

“Senior Board Directors and Health Facility Scotland are finalising the preferred options and programme of works for the QEUH and it is intended to issue an instruction to proceed in early January.

“Discussions with Glasgow City Council have been positive and it is agreed that a building warrant application will be made for both the adult’s and children’s hospitals when a start date for works will be able to be agreed.”

Talks are also on-going between the Scottish Government and Multiplex over who will pay for the work.

Student flats plan next to Mackintosh Building rejected by Scottish Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reporter’s decision is deemed to be final.

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

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

Green light for new Queens Quay energy centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Procurement reform needed to deliver affordable housing target, say builders

The Scottish Government is unlikely to meet its target of delivering 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021 without reforms to housing procurement, according to a survey of Scotland’s building companies.

The latest Scottish Construction Monitor, a quarterly survey of the membership of the Scottish Building Federation (SBF), also found that by focusing on price, current procurement practices will not deliver the mix and quality of housing Scotland needs for the future.

Industry employers responding to the survey were asked how likely they think it is that the Scottish Government will achieve its target of delivering 50,000 new affordable homes over the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament. More than three quarters said they thought it was “unlikely” that the Scottish Government would achieve the target. Only 9% said they thought the target was likely to be met with a further 13% of respondents predicting that the Scottish Government definitely will not meet this target.

SBF members were also asked a series of questions about their experience of housing procurement practices in Scotland. Most reported that, based on this experience, procurement decisions tend to be taken mainly on the basis of price with other considerations like quality, the use of local subcontractors and the creation of local employment opportunities treated as much less of a priority. In the future, respondents to the survey said they would like to see quality in particular given much greater priority in reaching housing procurement decisions.

Scottish Building Federation managing director, Vaughan Hart, said: “There is obviously a genuine concern within the construction sector that, based on its current approach to procurement, the Scottish Government is not going to reach its affordable housing target. At the same time, there is equally a concern that current housing procurement decisions are too much driven by cost above all other considerations. That is not going to help us to deliver the types of housing Scotland needs for the future.

“Applied correctly, procurement has the potential to be a powerful tool that helps to deliver a combination of benefits to Scotland’s society and economy. It should be delivering the right mix and quality of housing in suitably large numbers and in the right locations – while delivering associated benefits in terms of supporting local building contractors that are able to offer sustainable local employment opportunities. Our members’ concern is that, with price treated as the overwhelming priority for procuring authorities, this simply isn’t happening at the moment and that is a huge missed opportunity.”

Employers responding to the survey are always asked to rate how confident they feel about the prospects for their business over the next 12 months compared to the past year. For the second survey period in a row, industry confidence has been rated negative at minus 3, a marginal improvement on the previous survey rating of minus 5.

Commenting on the latest industry confidence rating, Vaughan Hart said: “I think this latest negative confidence rating reflects the fact that the construction industry dislikes uncertainty and the reality is that we are currently living through very uncertain times. I think the outlook for Scotland’s economy also remains challenging and this is also impacting negatively on industry confidence.”

Vaughan Hart added: “As an industry federation, we want to work with government to find new approaches to procuring and building new housing that, by partnering with SME construction businesses who can offer direct employment opportunities, meets these targets in a way that is sustainable in the long term – for the industry, for local communities and for the Scottish economy as a whole.”

Continued housing demand keeps Springfield Properties on track

Chairman Sandy Adam, housing minister Kevin Stewart, CEO Innes Smith and group partnership director Tom Leggeat at an affordable housing development in Muirhouse

Housebuilder Springfield Properties is making good progress with the five new village style developments it is creating across Scotland and is on track to deliver revenues in line with management’s expectations, the firm said today.

In its first trading update since its flotation in October, which successfully raised £25 million for the business, Springfield told investors that the continued demand for more housing in Scotland was underpinning growth in both its private and affordable housing businesses.

As a result, the Elgin-based company said it expects to report revenues for the first half of 2017/18 in line with management’s expectations and declare an interim dividend for the period.

Detailing the progress of its new village developments, Springfield said sales at Dykes of Gray in Dundee are ahead of the company’s target for the year to date. In September, the first homes at Springfield’s new 3,000 home village in Perth went on sale and work on site commenced.

The company will shortly be submitting the plans for another 3,000 home village at Durieshill, in Stirling, for planning approval and the legal agreement for 870 of 2,500 new homes for a village at the south of Elgin is being finalised.

The affordable housing division also continued to perform as expected, Springfield added.

The company will provide further details at the time of the interim results in February 2018.

Glasgow’s Garment Factory undergoes £6m revamp

The Garment Factory office development in Glasgow city centre has achieved practical completion following an extensive refurbishment project undertaken by Castleforge Partners.

A category ‘B’ listed building located at the corner of Ingram Street and Montrose Street in the Merchant City Central Conservation Area, the Garment Factory is one of Glasgow’s most notable buildings. It provides 47,382 sq ft of high quality retail and design-focused office space over seven floors.

The £6 million refurbishment project, undertaken by a team which includes lead contractor ISG, project manager PMP and architect Morgan McDonnell Architecture Ltd, involved combining the restoration of the original features, including exposed ceilings, steel and brickwork, wooden flooring and ornate staircases, with the introduction of contemporary finishes throughout to provide a 21st century workplace.

An impressive over-sized entrance lobby/reception with two new high-speed lifts, on-site café and breakout space has been created on Montrose Street to serve the office floors above. Two new retail/restaurant units on Montrose Street and Ingram Street have been formed and offer quirky features including covered outdoor dining areas and a triple level spiral staircase, which is attracting interest from leisure operators and boutique breweries. The basement area has shower and changing facilities as well as lockers and a cycle storage area, event space, games room and communal kitchen with LED lighting throughout.

Works on the open plan office space over the upper six floors included a full overhaul of the suites with the introduction of new finishes in keeping with the building’s listed status.

The existing stairwells have been retained and refurbished and the building’s mechanical and electrical services have been replaced and upgraded. The exterior of the red sandstone building has also been conserved and the roof has been extensively overhauled.

Rachael Pittaway from Castleforge Partners said:  “It’s great news that we can announce we’ve achieved practical completion at the Garment Factory; it really is a beautiful building in a great location and we’re very proud of the finished result. We wanted to restore the building’s original industrial aesthetic and emphasise the warehouse/factory origins by making features of the cast iron columns and leaving services exposed to allow the original fabric of the building to shine.

“Our aim was to create a flagship office and leisure development in Merchant City and to provide a fantastic working environment for creatives and corporates alike.  We have invested significantly in the upgrade project and are confident the large, efficient floor-plates, which are rare to find in a building with such character and quality specification in Glasgow, will appeal to a wide variety of occupiers.”

Architectural practice Threesixty Architecture and digital services provider Incremental Group were confirmed as the first occupiers for The Garment Factory earlier this year.  Threesixty Architecture has taken the entire top floor, comprising 8,374 sq ft of space, and Incremental Group will occupy the whole of the fifth floor, extending to 8,353 sq ft.  Both firms are currently undertaking fit-out works ahead of taking occupation early next year.

Guy Morgan from Morgan McDonnell Architecture Ltd added:  “It has been a privilege to work on the revitalisation of this Victorian mercantile gem. We have been able to liberate the original layout and character of the building which had been hidden under years of unsympathetic alterations and subdivisions. We are very proud of the 21st century office and retail environment we have managed to create within.”

The Garment Factory is being marketed for let by Ryden.

Kier wins £7.7m contract to transform Murchison House for University of Edinburgh

Murchison House

Kier Construction Scotland has been awarded a £7.7 million contract by the University of Edinburgh to carry out the transformation of the Grade B-listed Murchison House.

Work began in mid-December 2017 and is to be complete in time for the teaching semester in September 2018.

Murchison House is located on the King’s Buildings Campus within the University. The former British Geological Survey building, which is currently lying vacant, will receive an extensive fit-out and refurbishment to transform it into a dynamic multi-functional building with open-plan teaching hub with study spaces, lecture theatres, exhibition spaces, Edinburgh Innovations offices and incubation units and a range of student service offices.

Murchison House will also be equipped with the very latest in IT and audio visual facilities, improving the working and learning environment for students and staff.

The announcement builds on Kier’s extensive expertise within the higher education sector. The contractor is currently on site at a number of iconic buildings, including the refurbishment of Edinburgh College of Art and carrying out the intricate restoration of the fire-damaged Mackintosh Building at the world-famous Glasgow School of Art.

Brian McQuade, managing director of the Kier Construction Scotland and north east, said: “We are delighted to have won this important contract which demonstrates our solid record of successfully completing major projects of this scale and builds upon our relationship with the University of Edinburgh where we are currently working on the refurbishment of Edinburgh College of Art.”

Sheppard Robson gets green light to extend North Highland College UHI’s Burghfield House

Architectural practice Sheppard Robson has received planning permission for the refurbishment and extension of Burghfield House in Dornoch for The North Highland College UHI.

The redevelopment will create a single Dornoch campus for the North Highland College UHI’s hospitality and professional cookery curriculum, the University of the Highlands and Islands’ golf management degree, and the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for History.

Plans for the new 650 sq. m. extension, proposed to be clad in natural stone and timber cladding, incorporate a new entrance and reception area for the facility, as well as specialist teaching space for the golf management degree, the first of its kind in the UK. Internal redevelopments to the house itself will also provide increased administration space and teaching space.

The dynamic facility will enable learning and research in an environment that promotes a culture of academic excellence to a global learning audience. Offering a seamless and collaborative interface between learning and the local community, the space will nurture a vibrant, practical and scholarly atmosphere that will attract world-class students and staff.

Accommodating all educational activity for the Dornoch campus on one site will play a key role in the sustainability of North Highland College UHI in the Sutherland area with the revitalised campus offering facilities that will both address the needs of the College and support key economic drivers for the area. The campus will initially accommodate three key provisions – the curriculum in golf and hospitality together with the Centre for History.

Michael Dougall, architect at Sheppard Robson, said: “It is a privilege to be involved in the redevelopment of Burghfield House and the continued growth of the North Highland College UHI. Our proposals seek to enhance the current experience at Burghfield House through the addition of a new teaching wing.

“The form of the extension is intentionally subservient to the existing house, however a new building frontage was required to welcome staff and students to the campus. Golf teaching spaces have been located above a new building entrance offering glimpses to the activity, so familiar to Dornoch, on arrival.”

Debbie Gray, a director of the North Highland College UHI, and project manager for this development, added: “We are delighted with progress made by Sheppard Robson and the team involved in bringing this development to the planning stage. The Dornoch campus plays a key role in the development of tertiary education for North Highland College UHI and we very much look forward to confirming the funding package in the near future.”