Dumfries & Galloway

Stranraer dementia facility and youth foyer given green light

Loreburn Housing Association has been given the go-ahead by Dumfries and Galloway Council to build dementia-friendly housing alongside an innovative ‘Youth Foyer’ on the site of the former Garrick Hospital in Stranraer.

The proposals, which were designed by Aitken Turnbull Architects, will see the creation of eight one-bed and four two-bed ‘extra care’ dementia-friendly homes. New parking spaces for 37 vehicles will also be created on the site.

Built alongside the new homes, the Youth Foyer will offer supported accommodation for up to 12 young people, in order to combat youth homelessness and to increase employment and opportunity.

Youth Foyers, which are recognised as international best practice, provide safe and secure housing, support and training for young people aged 16 -25. The Stranraer Foyer will be a first for Dumfries and Galloway and only the second foyer in Scotland.

Young people living at the Foyer will be expected to be either in education, an apprenticeship, other employment or training, and will have access to volunteering opportunities within the community.

The Youth Foyer will also offer community access areas, a state of the art conference facility, breakout spaces and access to WiFi, creating a transformational space for Stranraer and Wigtownshire.

Lorraine Usher, chief executive at Loreburn Housing Association, said: “Our idea to create dementia-friendly accommodation alongside a youth foyer in Stranraer has been on the cards for a long time, so to have got the go-ahead from Dumfries & Galloway Council is really exciting news for the whole community, as this is a development which will bring so many benefits. Everyone at Loreburn is delighted and I am especially pleased for development team who have worked hard to bring this project to fruition. By offering shared space which is accessible to grassroots and public bodies alike there is an opportunity to address issues that lead to poor health and wellbeing outcomes for people in the area.”

She added: “The building will be for the whole community, who will be able to use its meeting rooms, break-out spaces and WiFi.  The architects for the development have an excellent track record in residential design, and it will also be eco-friendly and sustainable, using a district heating system and photovoltaics.”

Work on the new development is expected to start on site in spring 2018 and finish in summer 2019.

Paving contractor prosecuted after worker falls from vehicle bonnet

tar-hopperA paving contractor has been prosecuted after a worker fell from the bonnet of a tar laying machine in Dumfries and Galloway.

M & W Tarmacadam Contractor Ltd, of Main Street, Stavely, Kendal was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Wednesday, 22 November.

The Court heard how Darren Mundell, an employee of the company, was standing on the bonnet of the tar laying machine to cut the branches of overhanging trees at the Arkleton Estate, Langholm on 07 November 2016.

However, he lost his balance and fell from the bonnet into the tar hopper. Mr Mundell’s injuries included a fractured back and damaged spinal cord causing permanent paralysis from the waist down.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that M & W Tarmacadam Contractors failed to plan the task of cutting the overhanging branches and this resulted in Mr Mundell using the bonnet of the tar laying machine which was not a safe place to work.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Kirstin Lynchahon said: “M & W’s failings resulted in serious and life changing injuries which could have easily been prevented had the company planned the work at height. Planning the branch cutting activity would have included an assessment of the risks and either avoidance of working at height using long reach tools or measures being put in place to prevent a fall.

“Work at height is the biggest single cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry, particularly on small projects.”

Funding secured to save historical Rosefield Mills in Dumfries

Rosefield Mills ©Kerr Martin

Rosefield Mills ©Kerr Martin

Local building conservation group Dumfries Historic Building Trust (DHBT) has secured funding to begin the process that will save one of Dumfries’ favourite buildings from further neglect and possible demolition.

Rosefield Mills were once the largest woollen mills in Dumfries, positioned beside the River Nith opposite Dock Park, where once stood so many Victorian mills.

However the much-loved, iconic red brick and sandstone landmark, which holds a vital part of Dumfries’ heritage and identity, is currently deemed “At-Risk” by the Scottish Industrial Heritage Society.

The building came up for auction at the beginning of the year and since then the DHBT has been working to raise funds and gain support to bring this beautiful building back into the life of the town.

The last element of the Stage 1 funding was approved on Monday thanks to Dumfries & Galloway Council, an anonymous charitable trust and the Architectural Heritage Fund, and the project team has moved swiftly into action with the Feasibility Team holding their first meeting last Tuesday.

Over the next three months a series of community consultations lead by Julia Frost of social enterprise charity, PAS, will gather information about what the Dumfries needs and wants to see happen in the Mills.

Artist's impression of restored Rosefield Mills © Purcell, 2017

Artist’s impression of restored Rosefield Mills © Purcell, 2017

A thorough investigation of the condition and potential of the building itself will be carried out by Purcell Architects and a business plan to test it all will be developed by Michael Booth of Clare Consulting.

The final proposal will be a distillation of the information the team gets from the community so DHBT is keen to invite everyone to take an active interest and get involved in the process.

The DHBT has been assisted through these early stages by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, BRICK scheme, whose experience has been invaluable.

Julia Frost, leading the community engagement, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to discover what new facilities people would like to see. The regeneration of Rosefield Mills will make an enormous difference to the town and the River Nith.”

Between now and April 2018 the feasibility team is asking locals to look out for a series of events asking the community to contribute thoughts, ideas and its visions for the new Rosefield Mills.

Architect and partner at Purcell, Niall Phillips, said: “This building is a rare gem. Dumfries is so lucky. Its location, its exuberant style, its sheer size give this project a huge advantage. Great things can happen here.”

State of the art learning campus opens to pupils

Dalbeattie 2

Dalbeattie Learning Campus has officially been handed over to pupils after completion by Graham Construction.

The £24m state-of-the-art campus will replace the town’s primary and secondary schools and Council nursery schools, which have operated in a number of buildings on separate sites.

Dalbeattie Learning Campus was designed to enable much greater use by the Dalbeattie community.

Work started on site in March 2016, with an 18 month build programme and the building is now ready on schedule.

The old High School building, next to the new campus, will soon be demolished and the site landscaped before being incorporated into the campus site.

This is a very exciting time as the keys were finally handed over to the council today following years of consultation, engagement and construction.  The new campus will open its doors to pupils next week who will be excited to be stepping into their new school for the first time.

Dalbeattie 1

Craig Bridges, regional development director at Graham Construction, said: “Dalbeattie Learning Campus is a first-class educational facility which will bring long-lasting benefits to the local community.

“A significant construction project, our team have delivered a state-of-the-art learning space, while also creating many different jobs and apprenticeships in the process. We’re extremely pleased to handover the building to Dumfries and Galloway Council and look forward to continuing to work closely with them in the future.”

Councillor Jeff Leaver, chair of the Children, Young People and Lifelong Learning [CYPLL] committee, said: “Building the local economy and providing the best possible start in life for all our children are top priorities for our council and we are making massive investments in schools throughout our region. Dalbeattie Learning Campus will deliver first class facilities and transform education in Dalbeattie, delivering learning facilities appropriate for the 21st century. We were all very impressed by the new campus.

“The whole building is so spacious, bright and welcoming and a huge amount of thought, including a very large input from the pupils who will soon be moving into their new school, has gone into the design of all aspects of the building. The setting is spectacular and the sports facilities and opportunities for outdoor learning are absolutely first class. I’m very envious of the young people and the staff who will be moving into this amazing facility next week.”

Councillor Ros Surtees, vice-chair, said: “We want our young people to get the most from their education, which means creating environments that stimulate and encourage learning for years to come. I’m very impressed by the new campus. It looks like a brilliant place for young people to learn and develop. The site is spectacular and the facilities are first class. It is a brilliant development and once that the whole of the local community can be proud of.”

Public Local Inquiry to be held over £25m Dumfries flood protection designs

Whitesands Flood Protection SchemeThe Scottish Government has confirmed it will hold a Local Public Inquiry (PLI) to investigate whether the preferred design for the Whitesands Flood Protection Scheme in Dumfries will go ahead.

The project is based on a ‘raised walkway’ concept featuring a combination of walls, glass panels and flood gates providing flood protection.

New physical defences (either walls/glass/raised walkway combinations) will begin next to the Dumfries and Galloway Standard offices and end just past the Pizzeria in Dock Park. There are also defences over the river at Welldale and Kenmure Terrace.

Key design features include:

  • The walkway will now be a maximum of 1.4m high. This reduced height improves the views of Whitesands
  • The use of glass panels along walkway will provide a permanent 1 in 25 year return period standard of protection
  • The use of demountable walling above the glass panels will provide the additional height for 1 in 75 year return period standard of protection
  • Gentler gradients allow full use of the grassed slopes as an open space
  • Where there is insufficient room to accommodate the raised walkway there will be a combination of walls, glass panels and flood gates
  • The raised walkway has a smaller footprint, allowing four bus stop interchanges to be accommodated without changes to the carriageway
  • All parking on the shop side of the Whitesands will be retained
  • A focal point and viewing area will be created at the Sandy Opening.

Councillors made the preliminary decision to confirm the Whitesands Project without modifications at a meeting on Tuesday, 27 June.

The local authority then advised Ministers of the decision and provided full details of the scheme and copies of all representations received. Members also made a formal request to Scottish Ministers to call in the Scheme and hold a PLI.

On consideration of the Reporter, Scottish Ministers will either confirm the scheme without modifications, confirm the scheme with modifications, or reject the scheme.

Council leader Elaine Murray said: “This administration is absolutely committed to a Flood Protection for the Whitesands that incorporates much needed improvements in the public realm. It is totally unacceptable that Dumfries is the largest town in Scotland that still floods.

“We firmly believe that this Project to be the correct one for Dumfries to protect properties from flooding and also to encourage the regeneration of the Whitesands area and Dumfries town centre.”

Depute council leader Rob Davidson added: “I am pleased that the Scottish Ministers have confirmed that they are calling in the scheme for consideration. In their letter to the Council, Scottish Government officials confirmed that a Public Local Inquiry would provide an opportunity for a fresh consideration of the Project through an external, independent process.

“We believe the Whitesands should have a flood protection scheme but it has to be the right scheme and a Public Local Inquiry will ensure that happens.”

However, Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell is calling for the scheme to be axed.

He said: “I hope that the inquiry will recognise the strength of feeling locally, with thousands of people signing a petition to Save Our Sands and hundreds of businesses and locals putting in formal objections.

“Any solution to flooding on the Sands must be done by listening properly to the views of local people and not railroading through an unpopular and ill thought out scheme.”

Graham Construction opens Dumfries and Galloway office

(from left) Deputy council leader, Rob Davidson, with council leader Elaine Murray and Craig Bridges, Graham Construction's regional development director

(from left) Deputy council leader, Rob Davidson, with council leader Elaine Murray and Craig Bridges, Graham Construction’s regional development director

Graham Construction has officially opened its first permanent office in Dumfries and Galloway to help service its involvement in four major projects in the region.

The lead contractor on The Bridge, St Joseph’s College, North West Campus and Dalbeattie Learning Campus, Graham Construction today held a ceremony to mark the occasion, attended by Councillor Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, deputy council leader, Rob Davidson, as well as pupils from Heathhall Primary, who were completing an art competition.

The move to Heathhall expands Graham’s presence in Dumfries and Galloway where it has been operating extensively since 2013, following its first job in Scotland, delivering work for the MoD in Kircudbright 15 years ago.

FREE_PIC_GRAHAM_CONSTRUCTION_002Today the entire Graham Group, encompassing Construction, Civil Engineering, Interior Fit and Facilities Management has delivered or is in the process of delivering more than £2 billion of projects in Scotland – with over £80 million of these in Dumfries and Galloway. It has achieved its highest-ever ranking to date in The Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250, climbing 10 places to 16th after posting another strong set of year end results.

A total of 28 people from the region are employed by Graham Construction and the firm has created 14 new apprenticeships while supporting 22 existing apprenticeships.

It has also arranged 51 different activities with local schools and colleges, including site visits, work experience and class-room based teaching.

Craig Bridges, Graham Construction’s regional development director, said: “It’s exciting to commence the next phase of Graham’s presence in Dumfries and Galloway, building on links to the region which began over 15 years ago but have intensified since 2013.

“We are currently undertaking four major projects on behalf of the local council in partnership with hub South West, each within the education sector. However we’re keen to reach out to a wider-network of clients and supply chain partners, with the new base helping us to start these discussions.

“We have created 28 jobs for the region since starting these major projects in 2013 and looking forward we’re confident we can further expand the local team, taking on new employees and sub-contractors, alongside a developed supply-chain.”

FREE_PIC_GRAHAM_CONSTRUCTION_001School pupils who attended the opening event were tasked with designing posters under the theme of ‘What it means to live in Dumfries and Galloway’ with the winning artwork set to take centre place on the wall of the company’s new boardroom.

Council leader Elaine Murray said: “Building the local economy is a top priority for our Council and we’re committed to improving skills levels and creating job opportunities. It’s fantastic news that Graham Construction is opening a permanent office in the region employment opportunities delivered by Graham Construction, including apprenticeships, along with the knock-on effects in the supply-chain, are vital in delivering a diverse local economy.”

Scope and remit of DG One centre independent inquiry revealed

DG One DumfriesThe timetable and remit of an independent inquiry into construction flaws at the DG One leisure centre in Dumfries have been revealed after a request to investigate was rejected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Dumfries and Galloway Council approached the safety body earlier this year with concerns over its flagship facility after it revealed that repairs were set to run at least £3 million over its £10m budget.

However, the HSE confirmed in a statement that it will not be looking into the situation.

The statement said: “HSE does not generally investigate issues of poor workmanship where the work activity is complete.

“We will not ordinarily consider investigations except in cases where death or serious injury has occurred.

“In addition, a significant length of time has now elapsed since the original construction work took place, thus significantly hampering any effort to gather evidence.”

As a result the local authority announced plans for an independent inquiry, the scope and remit of which is now set to be agreed

A timetable for the investigation will go before councillors next week. The inquiry could cost around £250,000.

It is hoped a full report on the situation can be presented to the local authority in March next year.

Councillors are being asked to agree the wide-ranging remit of the inquiry which would include:

  • the council’s leadership and management of both the original and the repairs project
  • the rationale behind the design and build contract
  • contractual arrangements between Kier Northern and the council
  • the authority’s handling of the problems with the facility since 2009
  • why the issues facing the project were not discovered earlier
  • advice on wider lessons to be learned

DG One opened in 2008 but the facility was closed in October 2014 for remedial works after a number of problems were identified at the centre.

McLaughlin & Harvey was appointed to deliver internal and external repair works at the leisure centre following the long-running council’s legal settlement with Kier, which originally built the centre.

If councillors agree to the remit of the inquiry it would start this month with a final report expected in March 2018.

Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary handed over

NEW_DGRI_HANDOVERConstruction of the new Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary is now complete, on time and on budget.

The keys for the facility that will serve as district general hospital for the region have been handed over to NHS Dumfries and Galloway by High Wood Health’s construction partner Laing O’Rourke.

The next 12 weeks will see the building fully equipped, I.T systems up and running, and over 2000 staff will take part in an orientation programme to familiarise themselves with their new working environment.

There will be a four day transfer of patients, staff and equipment to the new hospital on the weekend of December 8-11.

Jeff Ace, chief executive for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be handed the keys to our new hospital. It’s a fantastic facility set in exceptional surroundings and has by far exceeded our expectations. This is a truly momentous occasion for NHS Dumfries and Galloway and we cannot thank High Wood Health and construction partner Laing O’Rourke enough for turning our vision for the new DGRI into a reality.”

Julie White, chief operating officer for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We are now only a few months away from our staff and patients being able to experience the benefits of a modern, state of the art facility which will enable us to continue to provide the highest possible standards of care to our patients in the 21st Century, with the added advantage of technological advances in many aspects of healthcare.”

Dumfries retail plans ‘could sound death knell’ for town centre economy

(from left) Ross Campbell, senior asset manager at Edinburgh House Estates; Rab Smith, chairman of Dumfries Retailers Association and Anton Dummigan, asset manager at Wirefox  Picture Robert Perry 18th Aug 2017 Please credit photo to Robert Perry Image is free to use in connection with the promotion of the above company or organisation. 'Permissions for ALL other uses need to be sought and payment make be required. Note to Editors:  This image is free to be used editorially in the promotion of the above company or organisation.  Without prejudice ALL other licences without prior consent will be deemed a breach of copyright under the 1988. Copyright Design and Patents Act  and will be subject to payment or legal action, where appropriate. www.robertperry.co.uk NB -This image is not to be distributed without the prior consent of the copyright holder. in using this image you agree to abide by terms and conditions as stated in this caption. All monies payable to Robert Perry (PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS CAPTION) This image is intended for Editorial use (e.g. news). Any commercial or promotional use requires additional clearance.  Copyright 2016 All rights protected. first use only contact details Robert Perry      07702 631 477 robertperryphotos@gmail.com         Robert Perry reserves the right to pursue unauthorised use of this image . If you violate my intellectual property you may be liable for  damages, loss of income, and profits you derive from the use of this image.

(from left) Ross Campbell, senior asset manager at Edinburgh House Estates; Rab Smith, chairman of Dumfries Retailers Association and Anton Dummigan, asset manager at Wirefox. Picture credit: Robert Perry

Two major Dumfries retail landlords have joined the Retailers Association to urge planners to prioritise the town centre retail zone, or risk irreversibly damaging its future viability.

Edinburgh House Estates, which represent the owners of the Loreburne Shopping Centre, and Wirefox, owners of the Southergate Centre, are urging Dumfries & Galloway Council to collaborate with retailers and prevent the local economy suffering an irreversible economic downturn.

This comes as the local authority considers a proposal by NewRiver REIT (UK) to try and relocate a Next retail store to a new site outwith the town centre, which the landlords feel places the high street under a major threat.

Both landlords have already committed to investment in their centres to keep pace with changing consumer habits.  However, they have stressed that robust local policy, in line with the National Planning Policy, is also needed to ensure Dumfries town centre remains a vibrant and quality retail destination for the local community.

Ross Campbell, senior asset manager at Edinburgh House Estates, on behalf of owners Loreburn SC Propco B.V., said: “Without doubt the retail landscape has changed and remains challenging particularly in town centres including Dumfries and we have to ensure that we are continually looking at ways to retain the attractiveness of the town centre which is vital to the local community, and economy, for many reasons.

“The town centre is currently protected from the serious threat of out of town retail by the existing planning polices – NewRiver’s planning application seeks to remove these protections and allow the retail parks to directly compete with the town centre for both the tenants and trade which has decimated other Scottish towns.

“Next is adopting a UK wide policy of relocating out of town and there are many examples elsewhere in Scotland when a prime retailer moves out of the town centre it becomes a far harder job to  find replacement retailers for vacant shops and attract new, quality retailers.

“The council has been very supportive and we would hope that they continue to implement Scottish policy to favour town centre development over out of town.”

Loreburne Shopping Centre employs 245 local people and generates between £165,000 and £250,000 of support to local businesses annually through its supply chain network.

The Southergate Centre is located on a 2.5 acre town centre site which currently includes a parade of 14 national retailers fronting High Street, future development lands off Shakespeare Street and a public car park comprising c.185 spaces.

Anton Dummigan, asset manager at Wirefox, added: “The future economic prosperity of Dumfries town centre is under severe threat and must be safeguarded by the council.

“The loss of a major retailer such as Next could herald a mass exodus of larger operators from the town centre, leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs and sounding the death knell for the local economy.

“An approval of the planning application would represent a major reversal in planning strategy and the damaging impacts could be irreversible.

“Wirefox has long-term investment plans for the Southergate Centre which will significantly enhance the town centre’s retail offering, but these may not be viable if the vitality of Dumfries town centre is not protected.”

The sentiment was shared by Rab Smith, chairman of Dumfries Retailers Association, who said: “The Scottish Retail Consortium recently reported a drop in high street footfall by 0.4% in July compared with last year, with many towns reporting vacant retail outlets.  It’s very concerning and we have to work in partnership to generate new initiatives to encourage footfall and ensure Dumfries town centre bucks the trend and doesn’t end up a ghost town.”

ARPL wins Dumfries design competition

The Hinterland submission by Gordon Flemming of ARPL Architects

The Hinterland submission by Gordon Flemming of ARPL Architects

The Glasgow Institute of Architects has selected ARPL Architects as the winners of a national competition to develop a new vision for Dumfries town centre.

Launched in March in connection with community arts body the Stove Network, the competition invited architectural concepts for the Midsteeple Quarter of Dumfries High Street which envisaged an innovative new approach to town centre living and being.

The competition sought innovative yet practical solutions with regards to the building fabric of the Bakers Oven and the wider urban block.

Placing town centre living at its heart ARPL’s approach aimed to bring new uses and footfall to the High Street and its wider context.

Hinterland 2In their citation the judges lauded the creation of affordable retail and craft spaces with learning and community spaces forming part of the mix.

It read: “A good architectural concept embracing affordable retail and craft spaces, learning and community spaces and viable residential accommodation. The scheme gave real consideration to the cross section through the urban block with a variety of typologies addressing each edge condition. The layering of typology allows for the housing in the core of the block that would feasibly attract a range of people, including families, to work, live and play in the town centre while business units activate the existing townscape with the utilisation of the High Street frontage for specialist local retailers.

“We thought the scheme promoted an urban archaeology to rediscover and utilise the heritage of the organically grown buildings of the back court of the block and that the lightweight additions create a new landscape and built form along the existing feu lines, but at a density and scale that is appropriate to Dumfries.

“We felt confident that the scheme would bring people and business to the area and would breath a new life and vibrancy to the mid steeple quarter.”

The entry from Andie Cooke, Megan Ward, Cara Brunton and Ashley Mitchell came in second place followed by Pioneer Landscape Architecture with Ryan Canning and Titas Grikevicius of Holmes Miller receiving a drawing commendation.

All 15 submissions can be viewed here.

The designs will be on display in the Stove Dumfries from 9th June and in South Block, Glasgow from 30th June.