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Full line up of £250m University of Strathclyde framework contractors unveiled

A proposed £60m teaching and learning hub

Four contractors have been chosen by the University of Strathclyde for its Framework for Major Building Construction to support the delivery of its ongoing Capital Investment Plan for construction work exceeding £4 million.

Kier Construction Scotland will join Balfour Beatty and Interserve in securing places on the framework. Morrison Construction announced its place on the Framework last week.

The University of Strathclyde has invested £350m over the last ten years in improving and developing its estates and facilities to support its goal to be the Leading International Technological University.

This latest Framework has a value of £250m with typical project values likely to be between £4m to £50m with the potential for both new build and refurbishment. This four year Framework also includes the potential usage by Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure Limited.

Kier Construction Scotland is already an equity stakeholder and Tier One contractor in hub South West Scotland and a Tier One contractor on hub North and hub East Central.

Brian McQuade, Kier Construction Scotland’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to be appointed as a contractor to the University of Strathclyde Framework. We believe that Kier has a great deal to offer the partnership and we are looking forward to working closely with the team and supporting local communities by creating employment and educational opportunities.”

Longer term plans key for engaging communities, says Henry McLeish

Rt Hon. Henry McLeish

The chair of the Scottish Alliance for People and Places, and former First Minister of Scotland, the Rt Hon. Henry McLeish, has called on the Scottish Government to be much more explicit about the requirement for local communities to be engaged at the earliest stages of the planning process.

Published on December 5, the Planning (Scotland) Bill is the result of a lengthy consultation and a series of position papers during 2017 as well as an Independent Review of the Planning System which reported its findings in 2016.

Former First Minister McLeish made the comments following the publication of the second position paper on the Scottish Government’s Planning Bill, entitled ‘Utilising an effective plan-led approach’.

In the paper, the Alliance, a group of 12 organisations from a range of sectors, welcomes the inclusion of a “gatecheck”, a stage where key evidence is gathered locally for the preparation of the Local Development Plan, but argues that the Bill needs to be much more explicit about the requirements to involve the community and other stakeholders are this crucial early stage.

The paper outlines seven recommendations about this part of the Bill, including:

  1. There should be a Chief Planning Officer in every Local Authority to oversee regional and local plans, and ensure the link between spatial planning and community planning is working well.
  2. Building on the duty for local authorities to work together on regional planning, there should be a duty to develop multi-regional spatial strategies to inform the development and support the delivery of the National Planning Framework. There should be a further statutory link between the National Planning Framework and regional spatial strategies in the Bill.
  3. The National Planning Framework should be subject to parliamentary approval. Given the new ten year life span of the NPF, Minister should be required to make a statement to Parliament on its relevance during the Parliamentary term.
  4. As part of the performance monitoring, Local Authorities should undertake regular assessments on the relevance of a Local Development Plan in lights of its new longer life cycle.
  5. Detailed plans of how communities will be engaged throughout the development of the Local Development plan should be contained in the first stage of the “gatecheck”. Furthermore, an analysis of this engagement, including the extent to which the views of the community have been taken on board, should be part of the second “compliance” phase of the “gatecheck”.
  6. The quality of community engagement should also be introduced as a metric for assessing planning performance.
  7. Local Places Plans needs to be adequately resourced to ensure a meaningful process and prioritise groups identified in community planning as facing particular barriers to participation. Local place planning should be considered as part of the evidence gathering process in the gatecheck.

Speaking following the publication of the paper, McLeish said: “An effective plan-led approach is crucial for the long-term development of the great places in which we live our lives. Although it may appear unnecessary bureaucracy, national, regional, and local plans allow us to agree what we want to see for our communities in the longer term. They provide consistency, credibility and certainty in decision-making.

“More importantly, plans provide a forum for people to contribute their views and hold decision-makers to account. By involving communities at the very earliest stages of Local Development Plans, we can ensure the views of the community are paramount in key decisions about their local areas on an ongoing basis. Our paper, Utilising an effective plan-led approach, has harnessed the collective expertise of our diverse membership to set out how we think this can be achieved.”

Keppie has designs on vacant Dundee Waterfront plot

Site 10 of the Dundee Waterfront development project

A mixed use project containing offices hotel and leisure facilities could be developed on a prominent site at Dundee Waterfront under proposals unveiled by Keppie Design.

In its proposal of application notice submitted to Dundee City Council, the architectural practice said it was hoping to introduce a “major development consisting of office space, active ground floor uses, residential units, hotel, leisure and associated vehicular access and car parking spaces” to site 10 of the £1 billion regeneration project.

Site 10 is located in the north eastern area of the Central Waterfront. It benefits from a location overlooking Slessor Gardens, Tay Road Bridge access, Thomson Avenue and Dock Street.

Keppie and has announced it will hold a meeting at Discovery Point on March 28 to discuss the future of the site.

The site is nearby the V&A Dundee Museum (top right) seen here in its early stages of construction

Associate Neil Whatley, who is originally from Dundee, said the firm is prepared for an “open and proactive” conversation with local residents

He told the Evening Telegraph: “We’re still in the pre-application period, which means we have to wait at least 12 weeks before we submit a planning application.

“The upside of that is that we can be open and proactive, and collaborative. The project is still in its early days and we’re looking at a variety of proposals and consulting on a number of options.”

Mr Whatley said that, rather than being a closed-off meeting, the March forum would be a true “consultation” – but added that an appetite for modern offices would not go away.

He added: “There are great opportunities in Dundee, but there are businesses who like the idea of modern, collaborative open workspaces.

“It’s quite possible we’ll be coming along with several options for the site — it’s all just part of what could become a planning application. This is definitely a consultation on the future of this site.”

Consort House demolition work begins at Glasgow Queen Street

Engineers have begun demolishing Consort House as redundant buildings in front of Glasgow Queen Street make way for the new-look station

Demolition works are underway at Glasgow Queen Street to create space for the new railway station.

Engineers have started levelling Consort House as the building and the adjoining Millennium Hotel extension need to be removed to make way for the new station frontage, concourse and entrances and new longer platforms.

Light-weight excavators have now been craned over 30 metres onto the roof to starting breaking up the building’s reinforced concrete and steel frame floor-by-floor.

Inside Queen Street, work is underway to extend platform one by 50 metres. The former ticket office/staff accommodation block on platform two has also been demolished.

Over the coming months, Network Rail said undertrack drainage will be created and foundations for overhead power masts will be installed, before 100 tonnes of ballast and 50 metres of new sleepers/rails are laid to create the space needed for four-car trains to use the platform.

The redeveloped Glasgow Queen Street station is scheduled to be complete in 2020. The project is being delivered as part of the Scottish Government-funded Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme.

Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance managing director, said: “We are transforming Glasgow Queen Street and using a unique method to demolish these redundant buildings to create the space we need to construct a new landmark for Glasgow.

“Extending platform one and increasing its capacity from three to four carriage trains is also an important step in our plan to introduce more electric trains to Queen Street.

“The station redevelopment, and the recently completed electrification of the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line, are all part of our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had – delivering longer, faster trains with more seats.”

Plans approved for for 650-home expansion of Perthshire village

Homes previously delivered by A&J Stephen

Housing plans which will more than double the size of a Perthshire village have won support from councillors.

Local developers A&J Stephen and I&H Brown want to build up to 650 houses on the southern edge of Luncarty. The firms said the project will create jobs, deliver wider benefits to the local economy and address a need for affordable housing.

It is estimated the scheme, across 100 acres of farmland, would increase the population size from 1,600 to nearly 4,000.

Councillors on Perth and Kinross Council’s planning and development management committee followed the advice from the authority’s planning officers to approve the masterplan.

In her report, interim quality manager Anne Condliffe said: “The expansion of Luncarty is a longstanding proposal.

“The site is well placed to deliver a sustainable community, serving as a well-connected satellite settlement to Perth.”

She said: “The proposal will provide a significant contribution toward meeting the projected population growth of Perth and Kinross. It will also help assist funding of significant community infrastructure improvements that will benefit Luncarty and the wider area.”

John Stephen, managing director of A&J Stephen, stressed that the proposal complied with the Tayplan and the Local Development Plan. He proposed building at a rate of around 25 homes a year.

West Lothian Council sets £154m housing budget

West Lothian Council will spend over £154 million over the next five years improving and increasing its council housing stock.

Approved at a meeting of the local authority on February 13, the investment will see over £79m spent on increasing the housing supply over the course of the next five years.

This includes the completion of the current new build programme of 1,000 houses in addition to a commitment to construct a further 250 new council homes.

A further 90 Open Market Acquisitions will be incorporated into the programme, as the council continues  to look at expanding the housing supply and  achieve a target of delivering 3000 new houses during  the period 2012-2022.

West Lothian Council said the new build project will help tackle the high demand for affordable housing in the region and bring a number of benefits to the community such as training and employment opportunities for apprentices, local people and businesses.

The capital programme for housing will also invest over £75m to improve the existing stock. Projects will include investment in energy efficiency measures and replacement of central heating systems to help reduce fuel poverty. These works are part of planned maintenance programmes that also include electrical testing and repairs along with painting fencing work.

Planned work will continue on environmental programmes and external upgrading projects, including tenant led street improvements projects.

Major refurbishments include the completion of regeneration work at the Bathville flats in Armadale as well as the continuation of roof, render, stair and balcony works at the Lochs Scheme in Whitburn.

There will be enhanced investment in external wall insulation work in council houses and a programme of central heating upgrades will take place to ensure all properties are compliant with Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) standards by December 2020.

A rent increase of 3% per annum for council homes and garages has also been approved by West Lothian Council. This follows on from a recent consultation with tenants which indicated that the majority of responses from tenants supported a 3% rent increase per annum.

Executive councillor for services for the community, George Paul, said: “West Lothian Council is committed to providing new, affordable, high quality council homes in West Lothian.

“A significant amount of investment is going towards the completion of 1,000 new council homes across all ward areas as part of our existing, new build programme with a new commitment to deliver a further 250 homes in the years ahead.”

“As well as providing new council homes, there will be a renewed focus on the maintenance and refurbishment of properties, to continue to maintain the Scottish Quality Housing Standard.

“Our recent Tenants Satisfaction survey results highlighted that the vast majority of our housing tenants are happy with the services we provide and we will continue to strive to further improve the housing services that we provide for customers.”

Blog: Insolvency in a post-Carillion world

Keith Kilburn

Keith Kilburn outlines 10 issues for employers, professionals and the supply chain to consider in the event of the insolvency of a main contractor.

It is fair to say that the insolvency of Carillion has sent shockwaves through the construction industry. While this may be the catalyst for change, insolvency has unfortunately been a risk which has been realised all too often.

Looking at the current position, we set out the top ten issues that employers, professionals and the supply chain should consider in the event of main contractor insolvency.

  1. Payment cycle – check where in the payment cycle you are. Are there interim payments due? There are limited saving provisions under the Construction Act in the event of insolvency;
  2. Security – check the terms of any bonds or guarantees which have been granted. Are they valid? Do they respond to insolvency? Insolvency may not be treated as a default depending on how the bond or guarantee is drafted. What is the process for making a valid call?
  3. Termination provisions – check what the contract says about termination. What is the process? Do notices require to be issued? What is to happen to materials and equipment on site?
  4. Status of the works – accurately record and document the status of the works on the date of insolvency. This will be relevant to calculating what works remain to be carried out and what the entitlement to payment due to or by the main contractor is;
  5. Completing the works – how are the works to be completed? What form will the completion contract or contacts take?
  6. Defects – accurately record and document any defects which are discovered and the costs incurred for making good;
  7. Final account – check what the contract says about preparing a final account. When should this be carried out and what is the process?
  8. Step-in rights – check if the contract makes provision for step-in rights, where a party may have the right under a contract to take the place of the main contractor.
  9. Making a claim in the insolvency – is a claim to be made and what is the process and timing for that?
  10. Insurance – check any insurances which are in place and if they will respond to insolvency.

Insolvency and its consequences can be complicated in any construction project and our specialist team of construction lawyers would be happy to assist you if this is an issue you face.

  • Keith Kilburn is a managing associate at Brodies

This blog originally appeared on the Brodies website.

New planning guidance published to protect music venues

Developers building new residential buildings near music venues will be responsible for taking appropriate measures to ensure local people are not disturbed by noise under new planning guidance published by the Scottish Government.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said today that new guidance on this Agent of Change principle will be included in the new version of the National Planning Framework and local authorities will be asked to implement it immediately.

After meeting representatives from the music industry including the Music Venue Trust and venue owners, Mr Stewart said: “The Scottish Government recognises the significant cultural and economic contribution of our music industry. It is only right we do what we can to protect the established and emerging musical talent and that is why we are embedding the Agent of Change principle in our planning guidance. I have asked the Chief Planner to write to all planning authorities asking them to act now.

“Music venues should not have to make high cost changes or deal with expensive disputes because of new developments. Developers will be responsible for identifying and solving any potential issues with noise, giving residents of new homes a better quality of life and allowing our music venues to continue to operate.”

Beverley Whitrick, strategic director at the Music Venue Trust, added: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the announcement from Scottish Government that they plan to embed the Agent of Change principle into their planning system, with explicit reference to music venues to be included in the next National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy.

“Ministers have listened to the case and taken on board the fact that grassroots music venues need protection and recognition for their contribution to our towns and cities. This is an important issue and will certainly help venues, but it is not the only challenge they face. We look forward to working further with Scottish Government to ensure the long-term sustainability of venues across Scotland.”

Development and consultation on the next National Planning Framework (NPF4) will begin in 2018, and it is expected to be adopted in 2020.

A Chief Planner letter has been sent to all planning authorities highlighting existing guidance on noise issues and asking them to ensure decisions reflect the Agent of Change principle.

Building Briefs – February 16th

New Aberdeen path opened for more connectivity with Diamond Bridge

A new path has opened connecting an Aberdeen community to the benefits of the £22.3 million Diamond Bridge after local residents requested it as an addition to the already extensive pedestrian and cycle path infrastructure created in the project.

The £500,000 path connects residents in Balgownie to the new Gordon Brae and has been funded by Aberdeen City Council, Nestrans and the Scottish Government, through Sustrans Scotland’s Community Links programme.

The third Don crossing was the biggest bridge infrastructure project to be built in Aberdeen in the last 30 years, and was opened by Aberdeen City Council in June 2016.

The project, which has involved the construction of two major bridges, 2.4km of new roads and new cycleways and pavements, was designed to connect with other major infrastructure projects. These include the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, the Berryden Corridor and the Dyce Park and Ride at Craibstone.

The new path was suggested by local residents during the latter part of the third Don crossing project and was taken on board by Aberdeen City Council.


Free home insulation on offer to Aberdeen home owners and private tenants

Residents in Aberdeen are being given the opportunity to save money and improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

Aberdeen City Council is encouraging eligible householders to take advantage of the Warmer Homes Aberdeen Scheme. The scheme offers free insulation upgrades to privately owned properties where there is inadequate insulation in the loft, walls or under the floor.

Householders will qualify for the scheme if they or their home meet any one of the following criteria:

  • Homes with Council Tax Band A – C.
  • Homes with postcode beginning AB11 8, AB11 9, AB16 and AB24.
  • Households with a child under the age of 5.
  • Households registered with a food bank.
  • Householders in receipt of state pension.
  • Home is privately rented (from a registered landlord).

Households taking part in the programme could save over £300 annually just by improving the insulation in their home and acting on the home energy advice could save over £200.

In addition to insulation, residents can also get free home energy advice from a qualified home energy advisor.

The Warmer Homes Scheme is funded through the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland. Aberdeen City Council is delivering the scheme in partnership with local organisation Scarf, Home Energy Scotland, and recently appointed insulation contractor, BCA Insulation.


Whitlawburn resource centre in line for makeover

A community centre in Whitlawburn is to receive a makeover after it received a grant for nearly half a million pounds.

Whitlawburn Community Resource Centre was awarded £499,472 from the Big Lottery Fund Scotland’s Our Place programme which was established to support local people to identify priorities for their area.

The grant will be used to carry out roof works and cladding and timber repairs and general improvement of the interior of the building. The centre will also employ a development worker and community engagement worker.

The centre provides a range of services including financial inclusion support, an IT Hub, a household recycling project and food co-operative. There are also a range of groups that access the centre including a local foodbank, parent and youth groups, exercise classes and football classes.


Realm Construction to start fife bridge repair works

Realm Construction is to begin bridge repairs works at St. Andrews in Fife.

Work to strengthen the structure, which crosses the St. Nicholas Burn at Woodburn Place, will get underway on Monday, 19 February.

The five-week scheme will involve removing part of the existing bridge and replacing it with a new concrete slab. In addition, the existing traffic island will be removed, allowing traffic to flow two-ways once the work is complete.

The road will remain open with a give and take system in place for the majority of the works. However, a two-day road closure will be required towards the end of the scheme to complete resurfacing works.

And finally… Interactive ‘crystal rock’ facade planned for new office building

Architects at MVRDV have unveiled plans for an office block with an interactive mirrored facade and open geometric core designed to display back images of its location and surrounding landscape.

Dubbed the “crystal rock” by the Dutch architecture firm, the facade of the Milestone building in the city of Esslingen in southern Germany will be formed from fritted glass containing photovoltaic cells that will reflect back images of the city.

Extruded and indented blocks on the square grid of the facade will give the building a 3D profile that the architects describe as a “pixelated map”.

Passersby will be able to use their phones to interact with the facade, which will be printed with QR codes that reveal information about the city.

“This building shows Esslingen to all people who pass by on trains and will become a new symbol to reflect its past heritage and future’’, said Winy Maas, MVRDV co-founder.

“The façade with fritted glass will have QR codes integrated on to it informing visitors about Esslingen’s people, landscape, and histories which makes the building an interactive library for all.”

The buildings’ volume is pushed inwards to create a fragmented façade, an ‘Esslinger grotto’ that reflects its actual topography and forms an open public walkway right through the centre, marking the location of the central district. On upper levels, offices are located and envisioned as light, attractive and flexible spaces that are customisable for different users to create combinations of work and life. On the ground level, the crystal rock façade opens up to the public square in front connecting the city to the building and provides public amenities including a café, restaurant and meeting areas.

The Milestone’s partly mirrored-transparent façade integrates technology and sustainability with the use of fritted glass to reduce overheating, PV cells to store and generate energy, and finally, QR codes which carry information about the city in a pixelated map spread across the building making it both visible and readable. The three-dimensional map is located on the lower part of the building extends to a height of 40 meters, and with stairs and terraces, it forms a publicly accessible core that tenants and visitors can walk up to take in views of the vineyards and surrounding hills. All of these sustainability features in the façade all the potential for the building to become partly self-sufficient in future.

The transparency of the façade allows an interaction between inside and out, whilst reflecting the daily interactions in the square thus turning the front of the building into a new meeting point. In contrast, at night, the building becomes illuminated through its façade and is a new beacon for Esslingen. For train travellers, the current beacon being a large chimney of a former knife factory with the abbreviation of the factory name on its side, spelling the word DICK, which means ‘big’ in German.

MVRDV was commissioned to work on the project by investors RVI and construction will start in 2020.

Images courtesy of MVRDV