Dumfries & Galloway

Plans lodged for new homes at former Lockerbie school site

Collective Architecture has submitted planning for the redevelopment of the former Lockerbie Academy site to provide 45 new affordable houses on behalf of Cunninghame Housing Association.

Forming a key gateway to the town of Lockerbie, the proposals for the brownfield site consists of a mix of semi-detached and terraced two storey housing, alongside cottage flats and amenity bungalows.

The development is aligned with Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan.

Collective Architecture said a considered approach to the site layout has sought to build on the strong sense of place within Lockerbie, which has been a common theme expressed in consultation with the local community.

Project architect Ross Aitchison said: “We are delighted to be bringing forward these proposals with Cunninghame Housing Association for such a significant site. Like many similar sized towns, Lockerbie requires increasing provision of high-quality affordable housing.

“To meet this need we have worked closely with the client, and through engagement with the local community, to form a place with a strong sense of character. In doing so we have looked to reference and evoke the familiar, enduring qualities of the high quality public housing built in Scotland in the early 20th Century.

“Using a palette of repeating architectural elements, we are bringing forward proposals which will resonate with the local community and create a strong feeling of ‘home’ for the new residents.”

And finally… Dumfries and Galloway Council in hot water over ‘unreasonable’ planning refusal

Dumfries and Galloway Council has been ordered to pay expenses after its refusal of plans for decking and hot tub screening at a caravan park was overturned.

The BBC has reported that a Scottish Government reporter found it had acted in an “unreasonable manner” over the scheme at Mouswald.

He ruled that the project could proceed – with conditions – and would not breach planning policies.

He also found the council had failed to adequately substantiate its reasons for refusal.

The reporter said the council was liable for the expenses of the appeal.

He concluded the refusal decision had been reached without “reasonable planning grounds”, failed to take into account “material considerations” but took into account “irrelevant considerations”.

He added it had relied on local opposition which had “not been founded upon reasonable planning grounds”.

Borderlands Deal proposals submitted to governments

A multi-million-pound proposal to provide significant investment within five cross-border local authority areas has formally been submitted to UK and Scottish governments.

The Borderlands Deal’s proposals, which support a wide range of innovative projects, comprises four place-based projects and six programmes that will deliver benefit across the wider Borderlands geography.

Key programmes that will deliver benefit across the wider Borderlands are Borderlands Energy Investment Company, Digital Borderlands, Quality of Place, Destination Borderlands, Business Infrastructure Programme and Knowledge Exchange Network.

In addition, the key strategic project of establishing the feasibility of extending the Borders Railway from Carlisle to Tweedbank will benefit the whole region.

The four-specific place-based projects are Carlisle Station Gateway, redevelopment for the site of the former Chapelcross power station, Berwick Theatre and Conference Centre and the Mountain Bike (MTB) Innovation Centre in the Scottish Borders.

The proposals were submitted by the Borderlands Partnership; a unique collaboration that brings together the five cross-border local authorities – Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.

Following the commitment of both Scottish and UK governments the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal has gained significant momentum. The Strategic Outline Business Cases – the first stage in developing the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal – were sent to the UK and Scottish governments on September 28.

A Borderlands Partnership spokesperson said: “This is a key milestone for the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and we’re delighted to have reached the stage where the Deal proposal has been formally submitted. Over the past few months we’ve worked tirelessly with a range of stakeholders and the UK and Scottish Governments to co-develop our business cases and the overall Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposal. Detailed negotiations will now continue with both Governments to agree Heads of Terms to establish the foundation of the final Deal.”

Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, said: “The Borderlands Partnership should be congratulated for the huge amount of work they have put in to reach this important milestone in such a short time. I’d like to thank all the partners for submitting these project proposals and look forward to moving towards an agreement as quickly as possible.

“The Borderlands Growth Deal is a genuinely innovative initiative and has the potential to transform the economy of the whole region, both in the South of Scotland and across the border, creating jobs and increasing prosperity.”

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP, added: “The Scottish Government is committed to working towards a Borderlands deal that will drive inclusive growth, delivering real economic benefit for individuals, businesses and communities across the region. We look forward to discussing the detail of what could form a Heads of Terms agreement for the Borderlands Deal over the coming weeks.”

SRUC plans new £35m campus in Dumfries & Galloway

Professor Wayne Powell

Scotland’s rural collage SRUC is planning to invest £35 million in a new facility in Dumfries & Galloway as part of proposals to create a new rural university by 2022.

The “state-of-the-art” facility, which has received business-case approval from the Scottish Funding Council, would be located at SRUC’s Barony campus.

SRUC said the new rural university will be a magnet for delivering educational excellence, a global leader in research and innovation, a fully integrated partner with industry and driving the growth strategy for Scotland’s rural economy.

The first stage in the transformation will see SRUC move to a faculty-based model, with three new faculties located across Scotland: North, (the Faculty of Agri-Food & Business), Central (the Faculty of Rural Science & Policy) and South & West (the Faculty of Pasture-based Agriculture, Forestry and Biorefining).

The model was identified via a thorough and extensive review as the best structure to deliver tangible benefits at a local and national level.

The investment strategy also includes a phased withdrawal over four years from SRUC campuses at Riverside in Ayr and Crichton in Dumfries & Galloway. SRUC currently maintains a small presence at these campuses and is in full consultation with unions and other stakeholders.

Professor Wayne Powell, chief executive and principal of Scotland’s Rural College, said: “This investment is the first major step in our transformational growth to Scotland’s new rural university. It is exciting and full of opportunity for teaching, applied research, the rural economy and Scotland as a whole. The decisions that we have made, and will implement over the next few years, are all the result of significant research and analysis. They will best serve our commitment to educational excellence, which in turn will develop the skills required for a vibrant rural economy in 21st century Scotland.

“The three faculties will enable us to bring skills and sectors together, and to strategically deliver an integrated, sustainable model for growth. The transformation programme will be delivered in close consultation with our people, partners and other stakeholders. Importantly, as we are implementing these plans over several years, our current students will be unaffected. I am looking forward to working with communities across Scotland to deliver a new rural university of which everyone can be proud.”

Leakage forces Graham to pull down ceiling at £28m Dumfries school

The North West Community Campus in Dumfries

Graham Construction is investigating the cause of a leak at a new school in Dumfries which resulted in the ceiling being brought down just weeks ahead of its opening.

The North West Community Campus has been undergoing a £28 million construction programme since 2016 and is due to open to around 1000 students on August 21.

Posts on social media had suggested that a ceiling had collapsed in the building but Graham said it had taken down the structure in order to carry out repairs after a leak.

A spokesperson from Graham Construction said: “During standard testing toward the completion stage of construction a leak occurred within the staffroom area. This testing was carried out in the evening and in a controlled environment supervised by experienced members of Graham’s staff.

“The matter was identified and isolated and acted upon immediately. The weight of water over a period of time saturated ceiling tiles and caused sagging and superficial damage. Graham took the decision to remove the ceiling completely in this area to ensure full and robust rectification works could be undertaken.”

The spokesperson added: “Graham takes both health and safety; and quality on all of our sites very seriously. That is why we carry out robust testing and commissioning prior to handover.  It is not uncommon for issues to be identified during testing so that we can rectify them.

“We can confirm that full quality assurance procedures have been adhered to on this project. An investigation has been instructed to ensure full understanding of the cause of the leak.

The North West Community Campus will be completed as per the agreed programme with the Authority, creating state of the art facilities of a high quality for North West Dumfries and Graham construction are proud in delivering this project.

The North West Community Campus will be a replacement for the current Lochside and St Ninian’s primary schools, Langlands special school and Maxwelltown High School.

Dumfries and Galloway Council said it had been informed of the testing and that it expects the school to be delivered on schedule.

A spokesperson said: “Dumfries and Galloway Council were informed that there had been a leakage during testing. Graham has given us their assurance regarding the issue being fully rectified and all necessary checks and due diligence being carried out.

“At the moment, the facility is still under the ownership of Graham Construction. The council will not take ownership of the building until all construction works have been completed to the satisfaction of the council.

“North West Community Campus will be a state of the art, modern learning environment for use by pupils and the community. We look forward to opening our doors to welcome pupils when the term starts on 21 August.”

A76 landslip works preferred option revealed

A preferred option has been identified for works to mitigate against landslips and restore the A76 at Enterkinfoot to two-way traffic.

Details of this option, which will involve realigning around 1km of the road, have been presented to key local stakeholders and put on show at a public exhibition in Thornhill.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “I pledged to take action on the issue of landslips on the A76 at the South West’s first ever transport summit, so I’m very pleased to announce that a long term solution has been identified.

“Our preferred option is to divert the road away for around 1km from the area that is prone to landslips. Whilst this may take a longer time to complete than other options, it offers the best value for money and delivers greater resilience to that section of the route.

“The geography of the area presents significant challenges to engineers, but positive work is already under way with the local landowner to transfer ownership of land to Scottish Ministers to allow this work to go ahead.

“This investment will help provide more reliable journey times for motorists and businesses along the full length of the A76, as well as improving connectivity in the region and further afield to Northern Ireland.”

Dalbeattie campus named Best Social Infrastructure project at international awards

The Dalbeattie Learning Campus, an ‘all through’ campus comprising nursery, primary, and secondary education set in an innovative, landscaped setting, has been named Best Social Infrastructure project at the prestigious international Partnership Awards at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel, London.

The learning campus was delivered for Dumfries and Galloway Council in a collaborative partnership approach with hub South West and national contractor GRAHAM.

Dalbeattie Learning Campus, which was handed over in February, is a major new community building within the town of Dumfries. It features multiple ‘learning bases’ which provide flexible and functional spaces aimed at a focus on lifelong learning and vocational qualifications as well as traditional school subjects.

The dinner took place on Thursday May 10 and was attended by over 700 people to celebrate the best in Public/Private Partnership (PPP) projects. The Partnership Awards, now in its 20th year, is the largest event in the industry and covers projects across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of hub South West, said: “This has been a fantastic evening, and a just recognition of the work hub South West, GRAHAM and Dumfries and Galloway Council have put into the Dalbeattie Campus, as well as a clear indicator of what can be achieved in partnership.”

The project, valued at £24 million, saw 58% of all sub-contracting work packages going to local businesses as part of hub South West’s commitment to ensuring that local construction projects support businesses and employees within local communities.

As part of the project’s additional development benefits 13 delegates were upskilled, 2 graduates were recruited, 9 N and SVQ completions for subcontractors were achieved, and 17 work placements were secured.

Councillor Jeff Leaver, chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s children, young people and lifelong learning [CYPLL] committee, said: Providing the best start in life for all our children is a priority for our council. So, I’m delighted that our council is being recognised for the excellence of the first of our new learning campuses. Dalbeattie Learning Campus is a first class facility that is appropriate for the 21st century and transforming education in Dalbeattie.”

Councillor Ros Surtees, vice chair, said: “The campus is fabulous, it’s bright and welcoming to learners. It looks like a fabulous place to be at school and I’m sure that the pupils are enjoying it. I’m delighted that it is being recognised nationwide and has won this award.”

Gary Holmes, GRAHAM regional managing director of building in Scotland, added: “Dalbeattie Learning Campus is a valuable asset for the region, the delivery of which was only possible through effective partnership working.

“During the development we went to great lengths to ensure we engaged with the community and that it benefited through access to jobs, apprenticeships, work experience and upskilling – all of which are very important to GRAHAM.

“We’re honoured this accolade has recognised these efforts.”

Dumfries leisure centre construction failings ‘unique’ and ‘surprisingly wide’, report finds

An inquiry report on construction failings at the DG One leisure centre in Dumfries has highlighted more than 90 defects at the project.

The flagship facility opened in 2008 but was forced to shut permanently six years later for repair work which will cost more than the original construction. Since then, vast portions of the centre have had to be demolished and rebuilt.

Professor John Cole, who led the independent investigation, said he has never seen so many issues in one project and that Kier Northern – now Kier Construction Scotland– was “unquestionably” responsible for the shoddy work identified in DG One.

He added: “In the opinion of the inquiry the extent and nature of the defects discovered are evidence of a lack of care, attention, basic construction skills or understanding of some of the fundamental principles of good construction on the part of those who built this building and those who supervised them.”

Mr Cole, who also spearheaded the probe into building failures at 17 of Edinburgh’s schools, condemned the construction industry as a whole in his report.

The “widespread presence” of similar problems to those found in Edinburgh – such as the structural integrity of external walls and adequate fire-stopping measures – suggests these failures “are indicative of systemic problems in the quality of work provided by the construction industry”, he said.

However, he said there was also a responsibility for public bodies to ensure they had adequate resources to check that what was being built met standards required and complied with building regulations.

“Proper, independent scrutiny on the job at the time is the only way that many of these defects would have been discovered,” he added.

Dumfries and Galloway Council is to examine the contents of the report and look at all lessons to be learned.

Council leader Elaine Murray said the report did not make “pleasant reading”.

She said it made it clear that the “principal problem” lay with the construction and the contractor.

However, she accepted the council did make a number of mistakes and there were lessons to be learned.

An executive group is be set up to look at the full implications of the report.

Ms Murray added the council would be sending the findings to both the health and safety executive and the police to see if they wished to investigate.

Kier has also said it will look at the contents of Professor Cole’s report.

A spokesman said: “Kier notes the release of the report and will assess the findings of the independent inquiry as part of a continuous review of the delivery of its projects.”

hub South West partnership with Graham Construction hands over newly-completed St Joseph’s College

St Joseph’s College, Dumfries

hub South West, the construction and infrastructure-focused partnership which works with local authorities and private sector enterprises in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, has completed work on a £24 million project in Dumfries & Galloway.

The re-development and modernisation of St Joseph’s College – established by the Marist Brothers in 1875 – is the first project to be completed as part of phase 1 of the Dumfries Learning Town initiative.

The main contractor was Graham Construction, and the architect was CRG Architects, with support from landscape architects SWP.

Work was commenced on the Grade B-Listed historic stone building in August 2016 and has been completed on time and on budget.

Development and refurbishment resulted in an 8,000 sq. m. facility which can accommodate 644 secondary school students and 72 staff.

During construction, the central building was extensively redeveloped with the north-west glazed extension having been demolished to make way for a state of the art sports hall and hospitality teaching area.

A 1980’s era extension on the Craig’s Road side of the building was redeveloped to include new kitchen and dining facilities.

Pupils and staff will return to the ‘new’ school on 19 April – an extra four days of Easter holiday – to complete their move.

Team using pedal power to cycle from Dumfries to Inverness in aid of charity

A group of staff, suppliers and customers from heavy building materials supplier Keyline are gearing up to take on the challenge of cycling from its Dumfries branch to its Inverness depot in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.

The route, which covers over 300 miles, will see the team leave Keyline Dumfries on Thursday 7th June and cycle to Ardrossan Harbour.

The following day they head to Oban, via the Isle of Arran ferry, before arriving to a heroes’ welcome at Keyline Inverness on Saturday 9th June.

Frazer MacBean, Keyline’s regional operations manager for Scotland and one of the organisers of the charity cycle ride, said: “Last year’s event was extremely successful and, although tough, it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone that took part. We therefore decided to take on the challenge again this year with a slightly different route. In advance, the whole team would like to thank everyone that donates and helps up to raise money for such a fantastic charity.”

The team is aiming to beat the £8,000 raised for Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) during the 2017 cycle ride. As Keyline’s chosen charity, this is just one of the many events the company is undertaking to help PCUK continue with its ground-breaking research so they can achieve their aim of stopping men dying from prostate cancer.

Donations can be made via the team’s Just Giving page – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/keylinedumfriestoinvernesscycle2018.