Go ahead recommended for CALA Homes development in Cults

A residential development off Craigton Road in Cults by CALA Homes (North) has been recommended for approval from Aberdeen City Council.

The collection of 19 homes will also allow the completion of the new Friarsfield link road, a key piece of infrastructure for the local area set out in the Friarsfield Development Framework, set to greatly enhance connectivity and traffic flow in the popular area.

The proposed mix and style of properties has been carefully designed to be sympathetic to both older and newer homes in the area, complementing CALA’s previous developments in Cults, Hayfield Grange and Rosefield Gardens, and current development, Cults Park.

Careful consideration has also been given to the creation of suitable open space, tree retention and the layout of the site to blend with the surrounding landscape.

The development will see the creation of semi-detached and detached properties including two, three and five-bedroom homes.

Mike Naysmith, managing director of CALA Homes (North), said: “We are very pleased that approval has been recommended for this site, which will see not only the creation of new homes for the area, but the delivery of a vital piece of infrastructure for Cults.

“We have extensive experience of creating homes in the locale, with several historic and current sites in Cults, all of which have been extremely popular. Our current development, Cults Park, is progressing very well and we expect to see similar interest in this new pocket of homes.”

New town signs up to biodiversity partnership to increase and protect wildlife

A new £800 million residential project in Aberdeen is to become the first town development to sign up to the North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership (NESBP).

Stewart Milne Group, the developer behind the 3,000-home Countesswells development, has joined forces with NESBP on several wildlife projects to protect existing wildlife and promote biodiversity within the 400-acre site.

With the aim of being one of the greenest and most attractive environments in which to live and work in North-east Scotland, Countesswells will be a new community containing thousands of new homes as well as an academy and two primary schools, community facilities, offices, formal and informal parkland, play parks and civic spaces.

Countesswells Development Limited (CDL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Milne Group, will work with NESBP on several initiatives to increase and protect wildlife in the town. Initial ideas include regular ‘BioBlitz’ events, with the community participating in recording wildlife over a fixed period and camera trapping with young people to film wildlife and learn about their movements and habits.

Ewen Cameron, chairman of the North-east Biodiversity Partnership’s Awareness & Involvement Group, said: “We were struck by the fact that open green space and woodland were an integral part of Countesswells from day one with a focus on actively encouraging wildlife.  NESBP is not involved in the development planning process but we were impressed that CDL wanted to do environmental work that went above and beyond that required by planning conditions and obligations.

“Our role will be to work with CDL and the growing community at Countesswells to help them understand the wildlife they share space with and how they can care for and nurture that wildlife. This is the first time we have entered into such a collaboration with a developer at this scale and we are grateful to CDL and Stewart Milne Group for their forward-thinking in this regard.”

Previously, environmental consultants Ironside Farrar were appointed by CDL to conduct a study into the biodiversity of Countesswells. The probe found that birds, bats, badgers and bugs of all shapes and sizes have burrowed and built nests throughout the many green spaces at the site.

In addition, red squirrels have been spotted in gardens in and around Countesswells, in line with a reversal in regional decline of these animals, recently announced by the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels partnership.

Allan McGregor, project director for Countesswells, said: “As the new £800m community to the west of Aberdeen is phased in, CDL will continue to channel resources into creating a haven for new and existing plants and wildlife.

“The new green spaces, waterways and parklands at Countesswells, which replaced the low grade agricultural land, have now joined Hazlehead Wood with Countesswells Woods to create a sprawling natural green landscape. Within this, we’ve been able to provide a natural forage route for amphibians, birds and insects. In addition, landscaping in the wider area includes vegetation species, which are attractive to badgers, such as crab apple, elder, gean, guelder rose, hawthorn, holly, dog rose and rowan.

“With people also making their home at Countesswells, we’re keen through this collaboration with the North-east Scotland Biodiversity Partnership, to demonstrate that living amongst and interacting with nature promotes a sense of well-being and is vital part of all modern communities.”

Affordable homes plans on show for land at Aberdeen Airport

Plans are in the pipeline to develop more than 300 affordable homes on a vacant site near Aberdeen Airport.

The Evening Express has reported that First Endeavour LLP is to submit a proposal of application notice to Aberdeen City Council to build the homes near the BP garage site on Riverview Drive, Dyce.

The Aberdeen-based firm has acquired the site where it proposes to build 302 socially affordable houses, which will be available for rent.

Under the plans, there will be 58 one-bedroom homes for one occupant, along with 36 one-bedroom homes for two people.

There are also plans for 156 two-bedroom homes, 44 three-bed homes and eight five-bedroom homes within the development.

A First Endeavour spokesman said: “There is a huge demand for social housing. There is more people living in single occupancy and couples that don’t have children.

“We’re working with the council’s housing department and associations to find out where the greatest need is to accommodate that and key workers will certainly be a key part of that need.

“Developments like this are a huge economic driver for filling empty posts including teachers and the police.”

The firm has had contact with Police Scotland while developing its proposals in a bid to potentially accommodate key workers.

The site, which is also near the BP headquarters on Wellheads Avenue, has lain vacant for the past three to four years. And the developers are working with architects Halliday Fraser Munro to draw up their proposals ahead of submitting their proposal of application notice to the local authority.

A public consultation will take place on Tuesday from 1.30pm until 7.30pm at the Marriott Hotel in Dyce, with residents, businesses and councillors all welcome to attend. The firm’s spokesman added they would appreciate the community’s feedback and input in shaping the application.

Retail and residential plan for vacant building on Aberdeen’s Union Street

New plans have been submitted to transform a vacant building in Aberdeen city centre into shops, a cafe and a residential development.

Developer Rockspring, which owns several linked properties on Union Street including the former BHS store and the attached indoor market, has submitted two new applications to re-configure buildings at 101-103 Union Street.

The plans will also include the change of use at the lower levels to create the new cafe space, accessed from The Green.

A spokeswoman for Rockspring said that the company’s vision for the site would assist with the Aberdeen City Council’s masterplan to revive the city centre.

She said: “Union Street has suffered in recent times due to structural changes in the retail environment.

“Our planning application seeks to plug the holes left by failing retailers and department stores, making the area more attractive and fit for purpose so that, together, we can bring more people to live and work in the city.

“We are working closely with Aberdeen City Council to put forward solutions that, not only enhance the buildings we own, but transform them into more relevant and attractive sites with street-level facades that will regenerate that part of Union Street.

“This scheme also adds much-needed living opportunities to a city centre which has been largely neglected by residential developers.”

A design statement, prepared by Montagu Evans on behalf of Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust, said shopfront alterations, reconfiguration of internal floorspace and a change of use of the upper floors to form residential space are among the proposals.

It added: “The refurbishment and alterations proposed are intended to refresh the premises and create a new opportunity and new future for the property.”

The unoccupied floor areas on levels four, in part, plus all of five and six, are proposed to be changed into residential use.

The proposals form part of wider plans previously lodged by Rockspring to redesign the disused department store and the adjoining market. A design statement with the plans said the redevelopment of the market would see an “under-utilised, unloved building” revitalised into a “vibrant retail space”.

The firm intends to add new shopfronts to The Green and to build a frameless glass wall around the old BHS site to showcase its interior and lure in more passers-by.

On Market Street, the indoor market would be set back from the street to remove its “oppressive, overhanging facade” and provide extra seating and public space outside.

Rockspring also plans a two-storey glass wall to sit underneath a large, “welcoming” curved corner which will help steer visitors along the side of the building.

Plans submitted to regenerate Aberdeen’s Broadford Works

A developer has submitted detailed plans to transform a former textile factory in Aberdeen city centre into 460 homes and accommodation for 430 students.

The Broadford Works ‘urban village’ will also include commercial office space, shops, restaurants and cafes set in a landscaped environment.

Developer Inhabit said the proposed 590,000 sq ft development has been designed to complement Aberdeen City Council’s ‘City Centre Masterplan’, the regeneration blueprint for the city launched in June 2015. The site sits on the edge of the area earmarked for the masterplan and Inhabit has worked to ensure the site is aligned with the mission and goals set out by the council.

The historic site, which has stood empty since 2004, was purchased by Inhabit in 2017. The developer said it has undertaken a series of discussions with community groups, Aberdeen City Council and other interested parties to ensure the proposed plan balances the history and heritage of Broadford Works while providing high-quality accommodation, retail and leisure amenities and attractive public spaces in the city centre.

Commenting on the application, Ana Nekhamkin, managing director of Inhabit, said: “In preparation for the submission of this planning application we have worked closely with Aberdeen City Council, Historic Environment Scotland, local residents and businesses to create an environment that is sensitive to the unique character of the buildings within Broadford Works and creates a dynamic and inclusive project to the benefit of Aberdeen.”

Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, added: “We welcome Inhabit’s plans for the Broadford Works which we believe will enhance the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan. One of the main areas of focus in the plan is to attract people back into the city centre to work, for leisure and to live. This is the approach that has driven regeneration in successful peer cities in the UK and beyond.

“The Broadford Works development will provide a great platform for this; helping enterprise and innovation flourish and attracting entrepreneurs to Aberdeen who will make a valuable economic and cultural contribution to the city and the wider region.”

Aberdeen councillors approve detailed plans for Union Terrace Gardens

The £22 million transformation of Union Terrace Gardens (UTG) is poised to start this year after the detailed planning application was unanimously approved by Aberdeen City Council.

Planning officers had recommended supporting the project which aims to improve access, amenity and activity while enhancing UTG’s green space and heritage features.

An outline design was backed in principle by Aberdeen City Council in March 2017 before a detailed planning application was submitted and later amended in response to feedback from key stakeholders.

Refinements made by consultants LDA Design to its original designs allowed for any future development of the adjacent railway and also followed advice from Historic Environment Scotland. The amendment included realigning the UTG/Union Bridge walkway and modifying the position and appearance of the Union Street/Union Terrace building.

Members of the council’s planning committee were due to cast their vote on the application last week but councillors agreed to carry out a site visit first.

Planning development management committee convener, Councillor Marie Boulton, said: “I’m delighted that the detailed planning application for Union Terrace Gardens has been approved and that Aberdeen City Council can focus on the final step – preparing to start work on the ground.

“The design promises to transform the gardens into a usable, inclusive and dynamic space that will serve generations to come. It was a vision shaped by the people and one which everybody could unite behind.

“We need to bring this flagship City Centre Masterplan project to fruition as quickly as possible so that residents and visitors can fully enjoy Aberdeen’s special green heart. The regeneration of Union Terrace Gardens can drive the transformation of the whole city.”

LDA Design was appointed in autumn 2016 to develop plans based on the council’s City Centre Masterplan vision. Feedback gathered during a public engagement exercise in December 2016 helped inform the detailed design.

Features of the scheme include:

  • New accessible walkway route into the gardens from Union Street
  • Lift access from Union Terrace into the upper level of the gardens through a new entrance building on Union Terrace at the existing Burns Monument
  • Improved disabled parking facilities on Union Terrace directly adjacent to the new accessible walkway routes into the gardens
  • Retaining the central lawn space as a flexible space for large scale gathering and events, and a new entrance opposite His Majesty’s Theatre to accommodate smaller scale events
  • Reinstating the ‘grand staircase’ as a central part of the new accessible route into the gardens from Rosemount Viaduct

The next step is to appoint a contractor, with work expected to start in the autumn. The target completion date is summer 2020 at the latest.

Plans lodged for almost 300 rented homes at old Aberdeen quarry site

The developer behind plans for 299 private rented flats and a public promenade at Aberdeen’s Rubislaw Quarry has submitted the application for planning.

Toronto-based developer Carttera also wants to deliver a gym, and a “heritage bistro” at disused the quarry, which will host a permanent exhibition on the history of the famous site which gave the Granite City its name.

The firm said the designs were inspired by the enormous blocks of granite which were hauled from the quarry for more than 200 years.

Jim Tadeson, the founder of Carttera, said: “There are many benefits to Aberdeen, from providing much-needed new rental housing, to opening up the quarry to the public for viewing along our quarry walk, to our heritage bistro and exhibits showcasing the history of the quarry and granite.

“The design was inspired by the famous Three Sisters of Glencoe, and is based on stacks of large granite blocks.”

AWPR project opening delayed until Autumn

The expected opening of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) project has been deferred until Autumn 2018 – six months later than planned, economy secretary Keith Brown has confirmed.

The consortium tasked with delivering the £745 million project Aberdeen Roads Limited (ARL) said the impact of Storm Frank during winter 2015/16, recent extreme weather during early March and the collapse of Carillion have all had an impact on the opening date.

The Aberdeen bypass had previously been expected to open during Spring 2018 and last week an announcement by Balfour Beatty, one of the consortium partners, suggested that it expected the completion date to be Summer 2018.

Transport Scotland said it conducted “urgent discussions” with ARL to determine whether both partners shared this view.

“The outcome from the discussions with ARL is that we now expect to be able to open the project in Autumn 2018,” the transport body said.

Economy secretary Keith Brown said the £745m project cost “remains unchanged” as a result of the delay.

He added: “While this revision to the opening date is very disappointing to the people of the North East, we have to accept the expert advice of our contractors on the ground who are delivering this significant project.

“Clearly there has been a huge amount of work that has gone in to getting the project to where we are now. I would like to pay tribute to the effort of the people who are working hard to get this project over the finishing line.

“I understand how highly anticipated this project is for those living and working in the region and the patience local communities have shown during the construction process, I would like to thank them for their continued patience as we enter the final stages of the project. Transport Scotland will continue to work closely with ARL to open sections of the road at the earliest opportunity.

“The total scheme cost estimate is £745m and this remains unchanged as part of this announcement. Under the terms of the contract, ARL does not receive payment for the work until a section of road is open to traffic.

“During construction over 1,000 jobs have been created as a result of this project and it will generate over £6 billion for the local economy with an anticipated 14,000 new jobs to follow over the first 30 years after the scheme opens.

“Once open, the AWPR will cut congestion in and around Aberdeen city, with a positive impact on reducing emissions and improving active travel, it will also improve connectivity in the region, providing better journey time reliability, particularly for those travelling from the north of the city to the south side.”

The project, equivalent in length to building a new road between Edinburgh and Glasgow, is a key part of the Scottish Government’s £1 billion investment in transport in the region, which includes the AWPR, Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements and the Haudagain roundabout improvement work.

£20m Union Terrace Gardens revamp decision delayed

A decision on the proposed redevelopment of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens has been delayed to allow councillors to carry out a site visit.

LDA Design submitted a raft of refinements to its plans in November following feedback from the public and Aberdeen City Council planners had recommended the £20 million revamp for detailed planning approval.

Members of the council’s planning committee were due to cast their vote on the application today but councillors have agreed to carry out a site visit first which will take place in the next five working days.

LDA’s latest plans saw a realignment of a proposed new walkway, linking Union Street to the Gardens, to reduce the potential impact on any future development of the adjacent railway line.

Steps were also taken to provide further protection of the views and setting of the Robert Burns and Edward VII statues through redesign of the proposed buildings nearby.

The scheme refinements are in response to representations made about the detailed planning application submitted last year.

In making their recommendation, council planners insisted on a total of 21 planning conditions if the application be approved including the submission of a detailed tree protection plan, details of bus stop improvements and also more information on the provision of disabled parking bays on Union Terrace.

Robertson to take on staff from stricken AECC cladding firm

The company charged with cladding work on the new £333 million Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) has gone into administration, though Robertson Group has ensured that the project will finish on time.

The Evening Express has reported that Leeds-based Cover Structure was placed into administration towards the end of last week.

Now Robertson, the main contractor on the AECC construction project, has pledged to take over the sub-contract directly and employ the former Cover Structure workers for the remainder of the project.

It is understood the firm employs up to 100 staff in Aberdeen.

Robertson chief executive officer, Derek Shewan, said the move will ensure the Bucksburn project will be completed in summer 2019 as scheduled.

Plans for the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre

He told the Evening Express: “Robertson was made aware on Friday that Cover Structure, the subcontractor handling much of the cladding work on the AECC, was unfortunately about to go into administration.

“We worked proactively over the weekend to find a solution that would ensure the continuation of the project, while securing the jobs of the contractors employed by Cover Structure.

“It is envisaged that Robertson will take over the remainder of the sub-contract directly, including securing equipment and materials, while maintaining the existing operatives in their roles.

“We do not anticipate any delay to the completion of the AECC project.”

Aberdeen City Council co-leader, Councillor Douglas Lumsden, said: “It is disappointing to hear that the main cladding contractor has gone into administration with the impact this will have on those employed.

“It is pleasing to hear, however, that the main contractor Robertson has stepped in so quickly to find a solution to secure the jobs of those involved and also pleasing to hear that they do not anticipate any delay on the completion of the project.”