Aberdeenshire

Historic Peterhead building revamp reaches property awards final

The Caley Building in Peterhead

The regeneration of a listed historic building in the Peterhead Central Conservation Area has been selected to go forward as a finalist for a prestigious Scottish property award.

The former net store, commonly known as the Caley Building, on Peterhead’s harbour front had been a fishing net store. The building had lain vacant since the early 1990s and was in a dilapidated state. Ownership changed hands a number of times as various organisations failed to find a viable new use for it.

The most recent owners, Fulmor Ltd, turned to Sandy Murray of Aberdeenshire-based Burnhaven Consultants, recognising his experience in regeneration and affordable housing projects.

“There was strong support from the public and from Aberdeenshire Council to find a project that would result in the restoration of the Caley Building,” Sandy Murray said. “But, given the recent history of failed attempts to create a viable project, there was considerable wariness about getting involved.”

The Caley Building had a number of technical challenges in addition to the overall restoration requirements. Notably, restricted internal circulation space, whilst the floor to ceiling height was constrained. There was also a significant difference in ground levels between the front and rear. Historic Environment Scotland grant funding rules were based on like for like replacement but since there had been no windows in the building they could not provide a grant for new windows

How the building looked prior to its restoration

Sandy Murray’s first move was to appoint a new professional team who had experience in historic buildings.

The plans they drew up involved creating a new steel frame inside the building. This would allow space for a commercial development on the ground floor, fronting onto the harbour. Above, the team proposed three floors of residential accommodation accessed from the rear of the building. This turned the differing ground levels into an advantage.

It took three years of complex negotiations to put together a funding package to turn the project into a reality. Historic Environment Scotland was a strong supporter although it was constrained in its financial backing. Aberdeenshire Council viewed it as a priority project and also provided financial assistance.

Fulmor Ltd has retained and fitted out the ground floor, alongside the harbour, as offices accommodation.

Langstane Housing Association took over the building contract to create 15 affordable housing units. Its involvement and financial commitment was seen as the key to the viability of the overall project.

“It has been a complex project,” added Sandy Murray of Burnhaven Consultants. “But, it has been worth all the long and complex planning and negotiations to see a dilapidated historic building in the Peterhead conservation area being restored to benefit the community and preserve the historic heritage of Peterhead.”

The Caley Building project is a finalist in the ‘Best Regeneration Project’ category of the Herald Property Awards. This category is sponsored by Scotland’s Towns Partnership. The winners will be announced at an awards dinner on September 27.

Council to deliver Kingseat park and play facilities following developer wrangle

Aberdeenshire Council is to take direct action to resolve a long running planning related issue at a residential development on the site of the former Kingseat Hospital, near Newmachar.

The local authority will carry out work to form a community park and install play equipment, after the initial developer of the site, Avant Homes, failed to install the facilities as required.

The work had been a condition of the planning permission agreed for the site and late last year the council served planning enforcement notices to try to get the work moving.

Other than preliminary works the council said there has been no significant progress from the developer or landowner, so it will begin work on site today to deliver the park and play area and seek to recoup the cost.

The lack of community facilities at Kingseat has been an ongoing concern for the local community and councillors for a number of years.

The enforcement notices were served in connection with two breaches of planning control, relating to the storage of spoil/materials and the lack of a play park.

The focus is on a fenced-off central area of the site where there was previously a bowling green and open space area within the former hospital complex. This was intended to form part of the open space/facilities for residents within the completed development.

Avant Homes had 12 weeks from October 20, 2017 to clear the spoil storage area and create a new open space area, including play equipment.

The notices were not appealed by the developer and the period for compliance expired on February 12.

Since then the site has changed ownership to ZTR Investments and Aberdeenshire Council gave the new owners time to comply with the notices, while making alternative arrangements.

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of planning, Robert Gray, said: “Although some preliminary clearing work was undertaken by the new owners there has been no significant progress in forming the park or installing the play equipment. As such the Council has appointed contractors to complete the works.

“The site owners, Kingseat Community Association, Newmachar Community Council and immediate neighbours to the development area have been formally notified of the start date.

“This is the first element of an attempt to facilitate completion of the wider development at Kingseat and deliver some much-needed community facilities for the residents.”

The work is expected to take up to 60 days to complete, depending on weather conditions.

Claymore Homes invests £600,000 into new headquarters

Aberdeenshire housebuilder Claymore Homes has invested £600,000 in new headquarters in a move aimed at ensuring the future growth of the business.

Established in 2007, the firm has built its new 4,480sq ft premises in Aden Business Park, Mintlaw.

The company has a number of housing developments including those in Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Pitmedden, Cairnbulg and Cruden Bay and has constructed its single-story, carbon-neutral and environmentally-friendly office in order to accommodate a recent expansion in staff numbers as a result of increased sales.

Director Peter Cowie said: “Our new headquarters is ideally situated as it’s central to all our current developments and also provides us with a great platform from which to grow our business across Aberdeenshire and beyond.

“Our sales have increased year on year since we set up more than 10 years ago due to a client base interested in well-designed, high quality homes, which also offer great value for money. As a result we outgrew our previous headquarters and had been looking to move for some time.

“Our new building will also facilitate the employment of more people locally, which in turn will mean we can take on more developments.

“We’re known for our bespoke homes and tailor-made housing solutions and are looking forward to continuing to build in the areas in which we already have a presence, while also expanding the business further afield with more developments already in the pipeline.”

Deputy First Minister visits Inverurie Community Campus construction

(from left) Robertson CEO Derek Shewan, Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Provost of Aberdeenshire, Cllr Bill Howatson

Deputy First Minister John Swinney was in Aberdeenshire yesterday to see for himself the progress being made on the £55 million Inverurie Community Campus project.

The cabinet secretary for education was in the town to attend the ‘topping out’ ceremony, meet some of the staff and pupils of the current school and learn more about the wider community and education benefits which will result from the new facility.

He watched the final beam being lifted into place.

The project is one of the biggest school construction projects in Scotland. Once complete, it will be home to Inverurie Academy and St Andrew’s School, and extensive community sports and leisure facilities such as a six-lane swimming pool, as well as a multi-use games area, two all-weather pitches and an amphitheatre area. Importantly, the facilities on offer will be of use to the community and the school simultaneously, and will be a valued space for pupils and residents.

Robertson CEO Derek Shewan greets Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the Inverurie Community Campus site

Provost of Aberdeenshire, Cllr Bill Howatson, said: “I was delighted to welcome Deputy First Minister John Swinney to this modern facility today and it was a pleasure to show him how Aberdeenshire Council is investing in the best possible buildings. Our aim is to provide community spaces and to help our children and young people have the brightest possible future.

“This will improve opportunities for everyone, and it is a demonstration of Aberdeenshire Council’s commitment to investing in Inverurie; maintaining what makes this a great place to live and work through the construction of modern multi-purpose spaces.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney added: “I was pleased to attend the ‘topping out’ ceremony for Inverurie Community Campus today, this project will result in a fantastic new campus that the whole community can be proud of.

“Learning and teaching in such an innovative and inspirational setting can make a real difference to education outcomes.

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving Scotland’s school estate and we are providing almost £25.6m towards this project through our £1.8 billion Schools for the Future building programme.”

(from left) Robertson CEO Derek Shewan, Provost of Aberdeenshire, Cllr Bill Howatson and Deputy First Minister John Swinney sign a beam before watching it lifted into place

Robertson Group’s chief executive officer, Derek Shewan, said: “Today’s topping out ceremony marks an important milestone in the delivery of the new Inverurie Community Campus, which will provide state of the art facilities for students and the wider community.

“We are proud to be partnering with Aberdeenshire Council on this exciting project, one of a series of quality education buildings Robertson is delivering across the North East.”

The multi-million pound project, which is being delivered by Aberdeenshire Council and constructed by Robertson Group, is being carried out over three phases. The new building will be operational in March 2020, and the overall project completed by spring 2021.

Planning approval for new CALA development in Inverurie

Aberdeenshire Council has approved plans for a new residential development by CALA Homes in Inverurie, heralding the first time the housebuilder has built family homes in the town.

The development – located in the Conglass area, on Crawford Road – will comprise 43 four and five-bedroom detached homes as well as an allocation of affordable properties.

Mike Naysmith, managing director of CALA Homes (North), said: “We are delighted to have secured approval on our plans for a new community of family homes in Inverurie. Our last development in the area, which comprised apartments at Priory Park, was many years ago, therefore we’re looking forward to returning with a new offering for homebuyers.

“We have strong links to the area with our ongoing sponsorship of Inverurie Locos Works F.C. and its annual Business Lunch, and our support of Garioch Sports Centre, and are looking forward to investing in the town further with the arrival of this development.

“Our plans have been carefully considered to ensure the new neighbourhood will complement the existing surroundings and bring numerous benefits to the area, including enhanced links to neighbouring developments, speed calming measures, community open space, a playpark and contributions to local amenities.

“Our new homes will definitely be worth the wait for those eager to own a premium CALA home in Inverurie.”

Work on the new development will begin in autumn 2018 with sales expected to launch in late 2018.

Trump unveils £150m second phase at Aberdeenshire golf resort

The Trump Organisation has revealed plans to build 500 new homes as part of a £150 million second phase of development at its golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Plans have today been lodged with Aberdeenshire Council for the homes on a site within the Trump International Golf Links estate at Menie, near Balmedie.

Other plans for the 1,500 acre estate include 50 hotel cottages, sports centre, retail, equestrian and commercial spaces, alongside other resort related leisure facilities.

This next tranche of investment forms part of the overall £750m multi-phased development at the site and builds on the £100m invested during phase one which includes the championship golf course, extensive driving range and practice facilities, permanent clubhouse and country house hotel, MacLeod House & Lodge.  Future phases will be brought forward on a similar mixed-use basis.

The latest plans have already been granted outline approval.

The Trump Organisation has claimed that 2,000 jobs will be supported during the construction phase, with nearly 300 permanent jobs after completion.

Executive vice president of Trump International in Aberdeen, Sarah Malone, said: “After extensive market research we are bringing forward a suite of luxury homes and five-star hotel cottages which we believe meet the needs and demands of consumers today.

“From the outset, our vision was to create a world-class leisure destination and sustainable community defined by quality and authenticity.

“This next phase builds on the international reputation of our championship golf course, ranked within the top 50 golf courses in the world, and harnesses the natural beauty of this mature site providing an exceptional place to live, rest and play.

“Improvements to the region’s infrastructure and recovery signs in the economy makes this the right time to drive forward this next major phase of development.”

Richard Marsh, an economist at 4-Consulting, was commissioned to undertake a review of the proposal.

He calculated that the development would strengthen the area’s economy by more than £250m.

Mr Marsh said: “This is a major investment which has the potential to support thousands of jobs and help to broaden and diversify the region’s economy.”

Speaking from Trump headquarters in New York, Eric Trump, who now leads The Trump Organisation with his brother, Don Jr said: “We own a truly phenomenal property along the coast of North East Scotland and remain fully committed to our long-term vision for the site.  The timing is now right for us to release the next phase of investment and the significant economic benefits this brings. Initial interest to our plans have been incredible and, subject to detailed planning approval, we are aiming to break ground next year.”

Aberdeenshire Council will consider the plans in the coming months.

Ballater Station restoration completed by Morgan Sindall

Morgan Sindall has handed over its multi-million pound project to restore Ballater Old Royal Station in Aberdeenshire.

The company was appointed to the project through Aberdeenshire Council’s Main Contractor Framework after the original station was almost completely destroyed in a fire in May 2015.

The listed building is located near Balmoral Castle and was historically used by the Royal Family during their visits to the area. Although the station ceased operations in 1966, for the last 15 years it has been leased to Scotland’s national tourism agency, VisitScotland, for use as a tourist information centre and a museum celebrating the station’s history.

The building’s principal elevations have now been reinstated, matching the original Victorian architecture, including a restoration of Queen Victoria’s waiting room.

There is also a new library and larger exhibition space added to a visitor information centre and restaurant.

Stuart Parker, managing director of Morgan Sindall in Scotland, said: “This was a highly complex project that required attention to detail and specialist skills in order to bring the building back to life following the fire while maintaining the original heritage features.

“Our team has worked very closely with Aberdeenshire Council, Historic Scotland and Cairngorn National Parks to ensure the accuracy of all of the external detailing, some of which had to be hand carved on site.

“We’re thrilled to see the station restored to its former glory and look forward to it continuing its function as a stronghold of the area’s cultural history and tourism industry for many years to come.”

Aberdeenshire Council will now begin the fit out of the building, which is expected to reopen to members of the public in the summer.

Five jobs lost as Deveron Homes and Deveron Construction fall into administration

Project delays and “challenges in the Aberdeenshire housing market” has resulted in Highland building companies Deveron Homes Limited and Deveron Construction Limited being placed into administration.

The privately-owned firms operate two service lines from their headquarters in Huntly, comprising the development of private residential homes – mainly in Aberdeenshire – and the provision of design and build contracts for housing associations across the North of Scotland.

Deveron Homes was established in 2002 and the construction arm was incorporated in 2008. In recent years, both businesses encountered challenges and delays on a number of development projects.

Blair Nimmo and Geoff Jacobs of KPMG LLP, who were appointed as joint administrators on July 4, said the resulting additional costs, combined with difficult conditions in the sector and the wider challenges in the Aberdeenshire housing market, left the firms with reduced margins, significant levels of debt and a lack of funding to acquire new sites.

Following an assessment of the immediate funding requirement, the directors determined they had no choice but to place both companies into administration to protect the creditors’ position as best as possible.

Upon appointment, the joint administrators said they had no other option than to make five of the firms’ 14 employees redundant with immediate effect.

The remaining employees have been retained to assist the joint administrators to realise the companies’ assets, including four sites currently being developed in Burntisland, Keith, Kemnay and Peterhead, alongside various contracts.  The joint administrators are rapidly exploring whether an early sale of assets can be secured.

Blair Nimmo, global head of restructuring for KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Deveron Homes and Deveron Construction are well-known businesses in the North East and provide a significant source of employment in Huntly through the construction supply chain. Disappointingly, market conditions and contract delays have required both businesses to cease trading.  We will do everything we can to seek a buyer who may be able to protect the businesses and maximise recoveries for creditors.

“The firms have an integrated infrastructure together with a property portfolio and various ongoing contracts. We would encourage any party who has an interest in acquiring both the businesses and assets to contact us as soon as possible.

“We will be working with employees and relevant government agencies to ensure the full range of support is available to all those affected.”

Anyone with an interest in buying the assets of the company should contact Geoff Jacobs, joint administrator, on 01224 591000.

Three carbon neutral Passivhaus homes planned for Aberdeenshire

Chartered architect practice Cooper & MacGregor Ltd has submitted plans for three carbon neutral houses specified to Passivhaus standards in Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire.

The Aberdeen firm said the application will achieve a platinum and gold sustainability label under section 7 of the building standards technical handbook and has been designed to be sympathetic to the local agricultural environment.

Heating and hot water will be provided via ground source heating with PV glazing providing electricity. Solar water heating and hot water recovery systems will also assist in reducing energy demands, as will the wood burning stove with heat recovery system.

Each dwelling has been designed to maximise solar gains with maximum wind protection.

The positioning of the properties allows each to have a private sheltered external space that is not directly overlooked by any of the other properties.

Plot A will be positioned within the existing hill with grass sedum roof and garden walls specified to minimise the visual impact of the properties on the sloping landscape.

Bob MacGregor, principal designer for Cooper & MacGregor, told Scottish Housing News: “The design and specification of the houses has been produced with the Scottish Government’s aims to significantly reduce household and construction carbon emissions by 2020 in mind. Sustainable design is very important to us and our client, as a result it has been at the heart of the design process.”

National park authority rejects affordable housing plans for Ballater

An application to convert an old school in Ballater into 26 affordable homes has been turned down by members of the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s planning committee, despite a recommendation from planning officers to approve it.

The plans by Grampian Housing Association had involved the conversion of the school building on Abergeldie Road – which dates back to 1877 – into 10 homes, with new houses proposed within the school yard, along with 11 flats and the redevelopment of two other buildings to create a further two homes.

Usually Aberdeenshire Council would decide on planning matters but Cairngorms National Park Authority called the application in as it was deemed to be of major significance.

However, despite the park’s planning officers recommending it for approval the committee decided to reject the proposal.

In her report to the planning committee, planning officer Katherine Donnachie outlined her reasons for approving the application.

She said: “This site is particularly well located in terms of access to the facilities and amenities of Ballater and the proposal is an excellent use of a redundant site. To have a Listed Building of architectural and historical importance brought back into productive use is also extremely positive.”

A number of objectors addressed the planning committee – whilst agreeing with the need for affordable housing and the principle of the application – they all expressed their concerns over the proposed access and the density of properties on the site.

Members attended a site visit before the planning committee meeting and after some debate on the issues agreed unanimously to refuse the application on the grounds of access, density, amenity and road safety.

Convener of the CNPA planning committee, Eleanor Mackintosh, added: “The planning committee were positive about many elements of the development but regrettably road safety issues meant that we were unable to approve the application. We are well aware of the need for more affordable housing in Ballater and we very much hope that a proposal for affordable housing comes forward that addresses these concerns.”

Craig Stirrat, director of business development for Grampian Housing Association, said: “While the provision of affordable housing was supported, unfortunately planning permission was refused after the site visit and hearing objections on the basis that site access and amenity were inadequate given the density of the site.

“Obviously we are really disappointed, particularly for those housing applicants who have indicated that Ballater is their first choice of area to live in. We will now have to consider our options in view of this decision.”