New plans emerge to revamp former Aberdeen BHS store and market

Aberdeen’s indoor market and former BHS store could be transformed into an “innovative architectural building” under new plans to revitalise the city centre.

Property investment company Rockspring, which owns the Union Street buildings, said it is “seeking a new and viable approach to the redevelopment of the site” and that its plans include “more attractive and active frontages… to increase the vibrancy of the area”.

The company wants to “dramatically improve the external facade” of the building.

London-based Rockspring had previously put forward plans to build a 17-storey block of flats at the site of the former Granite Mile shop.

However, the city council refused to back the proposals after a study showed the project “would not be good for the council taxpayer”.

Since then the firm said it has been in discussions with Aberdeen City Council regarding options since the collapse of BHS and has now submitted a proposal of application notice to transform the two sites into a “mixed use, office-led” development.

The new development would include retail on Union Street, plus cafes and restaurants on Market Street and The Green, and office space.

Shaun Hose, director of Rockspring, said: “The location and scale of this site presents major regeneration opportunities for Aberdeen city centre.

“Our aim is to create an innovative architectural building and greatly improve the surroundings.

“The approach to design and development will be fundamental in terms of creating a successful piece of urban design, sadly lacking in the current building which is no longer fit for purpose.”

A spokeswoman for the firm said the current building “has been deteriorating for some time” and is not suited for current “shopping trends”.

Mr Hose added: “This will transform the current eyesore into a more attractive and contemporary focal point for the Merchant Quarter, in keeping with the improvements which have been made to The Green in recent years.

“Working closely with the council and in consultation with local stakeholders and the wider public, we want to come up with a proposal that fits with the City Centre Masterplan but also responds to market demand for smaller, more diverse retail and leisure outlets and office space.

“Ultimately, it’s about offering a long-term, sustainable solution for the site that enhances the vitality of the east end of Union Street.”

The firm is planning a “comprehensive consultation exercise” in November to gather public views.

Painter dies after fall at AECC site

A painter who was placed into an induced coma following a fall at the new Aberdeen Exhibition Centre (AECC) construction site has died from his injuries.

Kevin Stewart, from the Ellon area, was preparing a room in a hotel for painting on Tuesday September 4 when he sustained “serious head injuries” at the new £333 million development.

Emergency services were called to the scene and he was placed in an induced coma at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The 51-year-old later died in hospital.

An investigation into the incident is underway.

A spokesperson for Robertson Group, which is constructing the complex on behalf of Aberdeen City Council and its development partner Henry Boot Developments, said: “We are devastated by the news that Kevin Stewart, a contractor who was working at the new AECC site, has passed away over the weekend. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.

“The Health and Safety of all our employees and contractors remains our top priority, and we are committed to supporting the ongoing Police and Health and Safety Executive investigation into the incident.

“Employees on the AECC site who feel affected by this tragic incident have been offered the use of a free counselling service, which is open to all employees.”

Detective Inspector Allen Shaw said: “Our enquiries are continuing, with officers working alongside the Health and Safety Executive.

“Our thoughts are with the family of this man at this very sad time.”

A HSE spokeswoman added: “HSE is aware of the incident and is making enquiries.”

Planners recommend partial demolition of Broadford Works

Plans to demolish a significant part of Aberdeen’s historic Broadford Works building to make way for a £100 million ‘urban village’ have been recommended for approval.

Developer Inhabit plans to transform the former textile factory into 460 homes and accommodation for 430 students. The ‘urban village’ will also include commercial office space, shops, restaurants and cafes set in a landscaped environment.

The site, which has lain vacant since 2004, was once home to the largest collection of category A-listed buildings at risk in Scotland.

The city council’s planning committee has been urged to approve plans to demolish parts of the Grey Mill, including the oldest iron-framed mill in Scotland – and the fourth oldest known to survive in the world.

Inhabit maintains the demolition is necessary as it would be too costly and unsafe to retain it as it currently stands.

City council planners have now recommended next week’s planning committee conditionally approve the plans for the partial demolition.

In their report, planners said the applicant has provided evidence, which has been independently verified, that if the site-wide proposals included the retention and repair of the Old and South mills, the “entire development would be considered unviable”.

They added: “Old and South Grey Mills are considered repairable, but at great expense and reuse options are limited by the type of structure, which further affects viability.

“The significance of the buildings is in their construction, rather than external appearance, therefore facade retention is not a worthwhile approach.”

A spokeswoman for Inhabit said: “We welcome Aberdeen City Council’s recommendation and look forward to the application being considered by city councillors. The plans for Broadford Works include the preservation and restoration of a number of historic buildings, including parts of the Grey Mill.

“Our ambitious plans for the site will support the city’s growth for the next 25 years by delivering a high-quality, mixed-use development that sits alongside the City Centre Masterplan.”

Planners have insisted on eight different conditions, should the application be granted when councillors meet on Wednesday, including a scheme for reusing granite.

Worker placed into induced coma after accident at new AECC site

A man has been placed into an induced coma after falling from a platform inside a hotel room at the new Aberdeen Exhibition Centre (AECC).

The worker was preparing a room for painting when he sustained “serious head injuries” at the new £333 million development.

Emergency services were called to the scene and he was placed in an induced coma at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary last Tuesday afternoon.

The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) is due to open in 2019, offering a 12,500 capacity arena and 48,000 square metres of exhibition space.

Robertson Group, which is constructing the complex on behalf of Aberdeen City Council and its development partner Henry Boot Developments, said the company would be contacting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

A spokesperson from Robertson said: “We can confirm that one of our sub-contractors working on the AECC was taken to hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

“We are conducting an investigation into the circumstances and will report in full to the HSE.”

Kier Construction Scotland secures trio of wins for specialist mental healthcare facilities

Kier Construction Scotland has been appointed to take forward a trio of projects in the field of mental health, including a £6m refurbishment programme at Royal Cornhill hospital in Aberdeen and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

Kier has also been appointed to develop the designs for a £4.8m extension and refurbishment programme for the existing facility at Rowanbank Clinic, part of Stobhill hospital in Glasgow, and a contract to design, build and commission a £3.7m, 12 bedded National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service (NSAIS) in Irvine.

Work for NHS Grampian to refurbish up to six acute mental health admission wards is part of the Scottish Government’s plans to enhance the clinical environment for patients classed as high risk of self-harm.

These latest wins build on a number of healthcare projects that Kier is currently delivering, including a new elective care facility at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank as well as carrying out backlog maintenance work and ward refurbishments with NHS Grampian at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for NHS Highland and at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock and Glasgow Royal Infirmary for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Brian McQuade, managing director for Kier Construction Scotland, said: “Kier has a leading reputation of delivering first-class facilities in the health sector.  These latest wins demonstrate significant investment in the area of mental health by Scottish Government and we look forward to working closely with NHS Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Ayrshire & Arran to deliver these enhanced facilities.  Not only will these excellent new amenities benefit the patients, they will also lead to job creation and training opportunities, helping to support both the local and Scottish economies.”

Judith McLenan, business manager, NHS Grampian Mental Health & Learning Disability Services, said: “This is the largest project the service has undertaken since the Clerkseat Building opened at Royal Cornhill Hospital approximately 30 years ago. The project will significantly improve and modernise the physical environment. It involves a major refurbishment of the building, the installation of newer, safer specialist ligature-reduction and anti-barricade mental health fittings and fixtures and improvement in the lines of sight for patient / staff accessibility and enhancement of clinical observation in practice.”

These improvements, ligature reduction and refurbishment will also be applied to adult mental health in patient services in the Moray Health and Social Care Partnership.

Kier Construction, part of Kier Group, is one of five principal supply chain partners on the NHS’ £600m Health Facilities Scotland framework for Capital Development in Scotland.

Aloft Hotel tops out at new AECC site

The 150-bedroom Aloft Hotel, part of the new AECC project which includes The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA), has “topped out” now that the structure has been completed.

The hotel, located just north of the Hilton Hotel that adjoins TECA, will be the first building in Phase 2 of the AECC masterplan at Bucksburn.

The multi-million pound project, which is being delivered by Aberdeen City Council and its development partner Henry Boot Developments (HBD), is being constructed by Robertson Group and will provide a new world-class facility for Scotland. The 12,500-capacity arena along with conference and exhibition spaces will host major events and music concerts.

The new facility is expected to contribute an additional 4.5 million visitors, £113 million of visitor spend and £63m net Gross Value Added to the Scottish economy. It will also result in the creation of 352 full-time-equivalent permanent positions by year 10 of operations.

Nick Harris, director of HBD in Scotland, said: “The Aloft Hotel is a key part of this flagship project for Aberdeen and the north east. This is the last of the buildings under construction to ‘top out’, and we are now moving to the interior fit-out stage. The installation of the interiors has already begun at TECA itself and at the adjoining Hilton hotel, so we’re entering another really exciting phase of the project where we will see the buildings really start to come to life.”

Aberdeen City Council co-leader, Councillor Douglas Lumsden, said: “It is fantastic that another milestone has been achieved in what is one of the most significant developments for Aberdeen.

“The Aloft hotel is a new brand for Aberdeen and fits with the aims of our Regional Economic Strategy which has internationalisation at its heart. The build of the entire site is continuing at great pace and we’re looking forward to watching it progress in the remaining months.”

Robertson Group’s chief executive officer, Derek Shewan, said: “There has been significant investment in Aberdeen in recent times and TECA is a major part of this. Venues such as this support the increased focus on travel and tourism in the area. As a company with its roots right here in the North East we’re proud of the role we’ve played in making this development become a reality.

“To see all the major building exteriors within the complex complete is a significant milestone and a testament to the Robertson team’s work and project management.”

Designed by architects Cooper Cromar, with interiors by Twenty2Degrees, the new Aloft Hotel will be the first of its kind in Scotland. Both the Aloft and Hilton hotel will be managed by hotel management company RBH.

Andrew Robb, chief business development officer for RBH, said: “It’s wonderful to see the Aloft structure completed – it represents a significant milestone in the journey towards opening the doors to our first guests in 2019, and is a major step forward in the AECC project as a whole. As an Aberdonian myself I am excited to see investment of this scale in the city and the benefits which this will bring to the wider community.

“This new hotel will see a second Aloft property join our growing portfolio, alongside Aloft Liverpool, and is representative of an increasingly strong partnership with brand owner Marriott. We look forward to bringing Aloft’s quality accommodation and food and beverage offering to the city with the opening of this contemporary hotel.”

And finally… Gloves are off in fight for Aberdeen site

A garden centre and a local boxer are going head-to-head in a clash over the right to develop on the site of a former school in Aberdeen.

The Parkhill Garden Centre and champion fighter Lee McAllister are locked in a battle over who will take over the site. The former school building was set on fire by teenagers last November.

Mr McAllister – known to many fans as the Aberdeen Assassin – wants to use the site for his £10 million vision for a fitness complex that would help the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, cancer, alcoholism or who are homeless.

Proposals for the site include a multi-purpose gym and a pool.

However the garden centre has submitted an offer to purchase the building and relocate its operation citing issues with the new AWPR route as the reason behind the possible move.

The businesses plans also include the addition of free community allotments, a horticultural classroom for groups and schools, a children’s play area and a farmer’s market.

Gordon McGillivray, joint owner of Parkhill Garden Centre, said: “We have put in an offer for the former Cordyce School site.

“Parkhill is already a popular venue used as a meeting place for local people and businesses.

“It would be even more accessible at Cordyce for those who walk or are dependent on public transport.

“The previous B977 Dyce to Balmedie road was there when our nursery business moved in 1984 from Allenvale to its present site.

“Prior to the AWPR the original road was on the same level as the garden centre, there was a forest at the opposite side of the road and our own tree shelter belt at our side of the road.

“This gave complete protection from the prevailing winter winds from the west.”

Now housing developer First Endeavour LLP has thrown its weight behind the garden centre by promising up to £20 million of investment.

As part of the proposed scheme, the garden centre would be joined by a medical centre, a care home, and around 60 homes, which are envisaged as three or four bedroom bungalows.

A spokesman said: “We are looking at maybe £20 million of investment here in facilities that are needed in the area.

“We have a proven track record of delivering projects in the north-east and won’t require any public money to be spend on our development.”

The ‘Aberdeen Assassin’ said: “If we win the bid and they are willing to work together we’d be more than happy to work alongside them.”

£35m Aberdeen University science hub given green light

The view of the building from Bedford Road

Plans for a new £35 million Science Teaching Hub at the University of Aberdeen have been given planning permission.

The new building dedicated to science laboratories will be situated just off St Machar Drive near the Fraser Noble building, student Hub and Sir Duncan Rice Library.

Featuring cutting edge facilities and flexible teaching laboratory space, the new facility has been designed by Reiach and Hall Architects to encourage collaboration between students from different disciplines.

The view from St Machar Drive towards the library

Planners said the design of the development would make a “positive contribution” to the environment and provide a gateway site to the campus, while also providing further high quality educational facilities for the university.

Their decision notice added: “The proposal is considered to be a high-quality development befitting of the surrounding conservation area.”

How the proposed hub looks from St Machar Drive

Aberdeen University senior vice-principal, Professor Phil Hannaford, said: “We’re delighted to have been granted planning permission to build this fantastic new facility which will transform science teaching for students at the University of Aberdeen.

“As an institution, we have already outlined our commitment to invest heavily in our infrastructure so we continue to attract the brightest and best students from all over the world to the north-east of Scotland.”

The University hopes the building will be open and available for teaching in 2021.

Scottish architects lead six-strong Camphill School competition shortlist

Collective Architecture and Hoskins Architects have been named among six practices to be shortlisted to design a £10 million transformation of Camphill School in Aberdeen.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has announced the firms alongside Anderson Bell + Christie, James F Stephen Architects, jmarchitects and Scott Brownrigg as the names in contention from 50 strong submissions received from practices across the UK.

RIAS Consultancy is acting as advisor to Camphill School Aberdeen in the management of the competitive process to select an architect and multi-disciplinary design team to deliver a the £10m capital investment development over two of its three campuses (Murtle Estate and Camphill Estate).

An architectural proposal is sought that can be delivered within the proposed budget. The proposals must be sympathetic to the existing campus arrangement and respect the already established links, whilst enhancing the quality of the school and its surroundings. It is intended that the successful architect or practice will be awarded the commission and delivery of the project through all stages of the RIBA Plan of Work.

Camphill executive director, Alex Busch, said: “We were extremely impressed with the interest generated in the project and with the calibre of the stage 1 submissions. We would like to thank all practices for their time and efforts at this stage and we are looking forward to the next stage of the selection process with the shortlisted practices.”

Alex Donaldson, director of the Edinburgh studio Scott Brownrigg, told Scottish Construction Now: “The Camphill movement is nothing short of incredible. We are inspired by the prospect of being involved in any manner we can in continuing the journey. It is truly thrilling.”

AWPR ‘on schedule’ despite River Don bridge repairs

Remedial works needed to correct defects on the new River Don bridge will not cause further delays to the completion of the Aberdeen bypass, according to Transport Scotland.

The transport body confirmed that repairs were required after “minor defects” were identified in the new crossing in Dyce.

In a report by trade publication Construction News, contractors Balfour Beatty revealed the work will cost millions.

North East MSP Lewis Macdonald has written to transport minister Michael Matheson to outline his concerns and call for clarity on any potential delays.

His letter stated: “Given that Balfour Beatty, as one of the two main partners for the AWPR has confirmed that it is now addressing the issues in relation to the bridge’s design, I would be grateful if you could outline what the Scottish Government’s assessment is of the situation.

“In particular, what assessment have you made of the impact that this remedial work on a key component of the AWPR infrastructure will have on the timetable for the completion on the project as a whole? What do you believe the impact is on the overall cost of the AWPR? Are there any implications for safety?”

Mr Macdonald added: “This latest development will only reinforce concerns that the AWPR could be subject to further delay and it’s vital that the Scottish Government provide clarity on this matter.

“The Scottish Government also need to be clear on the extent to which this will impact on the overall cost of the project and any implications for safety.

“The bridges over the River Dee and River Don are clearly critical parts of the infrastructure of the AWPR and it is vital that the Scottish Government publishes its own assessment of the issues affecting the Don Crossing and their impact on the project as a whole.”

However Transport Scotland has insisted the repairs will not disrupt the Aberdeen bypass from opening late autumn 2018, adding that contractor Balfour Beatty would pay for the additional costs.

A spokesman said: “The AWPR contract sets out a clear standard for the works on AWPR and the contractor is required to complete any necessary work to deliver this at no additional costs to the public purse.

“Some concrete panels are being replaced after minor defects were identified as part of the rigorous quality control processes which are utilised across the project.

“It is not unusual for minor defects to appear during the construction of major infrastructure projects.

“The contractor will undertake the necessary remedial works, at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

“There will be no safety implications for users of the AWPR, and the AWPR/B-T project remains on schedule to open to traffic by late autumn 2018.

“The previous Cabinet Secretary reported the latest position with the AWPR/B-T project to parliament in March 2018 and Balfour Beatty’s interim results remain consistent with this.”

Two main sections of the £745 million project – from Balmedie to Tipperty and Blackdog to Dyce – have already opened to traffic.