Jobs lost as Glenrothes manufacturer goes into liquidation

A Glenrothes-based kitchen manufacturer has gone into liquidation with the loss of almost 40 jobs.

The employees at Murray and Murray Limited were made redundant with immediate effect after directors took the decision to wind up the company amid huge debts.

The firm designs and manufactures bespoke kitchens and interiors.

The Courier has reported that while creditors have been invited to a meeting in Dunfermline next week to discuss the situation, it is not yet clear how much is owed and to whom.

Dunfermline-based Thompson Cooper has been appointed liquidator.

A spokesperson said: “Known creditors have been made aware of the liquidation, however, if anyone else wishes to discuss the position please contact Thomson Cooper on 01383 628800.”

Raeburn Construction builds itself a new home in Fife

Raeburn Construction is to invest £440,000 to build a new head office and four additional industrial units in Kirkcaldy.

Work on the new site at Dunnikier Business Park began last month, with the firm projecting it will move its 11 office staff into its two storey unit by Easter.

Currently located in Mitchelson Industrial Estate, Kirkcaldy, the company, which has been helped by Business Gateway Fife, will look to rent the remaining units.

In the past 12 months, the company’s 50-strong site operatives have worked on around 40 projects including running four major groundworks contracts in Edinburgh at the same time.

The company is now looking to take on four apprentices in the New Year and is projecting turnover will hit a minimum £6m by May 2018.

Sarah Raeburn, director, Raeburn Construction, said: “It’s always been our goal to build our own office space – we actually began to look for the right location four years ago – but it became a priority last year when we realised we’d outgrown our current location. By buying the land it lets us build to our own specification and meet future needs.

“With the build now underway, we’re looking to invest in a new IT systems and Business Gateway Fife has helped us secure funding to work with an IT specialist so we can find the best platform for our needs. We are also investing in a new website to showcase what we do and our adviser has organised for us to work with a content marketing specialist who will give us guidance on how to properly tell our story. This could potentially lead to the creation of a new position within our office team.”

Stephen Mitchell, adviser at Business Gateway Fife, added: “Raeburn Construction has cemented a reputation for providing outstanding service, and moving into a purpose-built head office is a major step for the family-firm. Over the years they have used our advice as the business has grown, most recently tapping into support that will help them identify the best IT system and increase their digital skills as they look to improve their online presence.”

Having originally hired out freelance site engineers to the construction industry, Raeburn Construction took a new direction in 2008 following the economic crash, moving into groundwork provision for civil engineering contracts.

Scott Raeburn, director, said: “Because we were a relatively small firm we were able to adapt and react quickly to changes in the industry during the economic downturn. That flexibility helped us weather the storm, and when we decided to become a full-time employer Business Gateway Fife provided us with HR and Occupational Health advice.”

In 2015, the company took the decision to offer its freelance staff full-time positions to provide greater stability and control and launched its own apprenticeship scheme.

“We are very proud of our apprenticeship scheme,” added Mr Raeburn. “It helps fill skill gaps in our industry and allows us to invest in the younger generation who will ultimately be the future of the company. The scheme is a great way to enter the industry and get the skills and qualifications needed for a successful career. We’d be delighted to hear from young people interested in working in our industry who’d be able to start training in early 2018.”

Final planning hurdle cleared for 1,400 new homes in Fife

An aerial view of the Kingdom Park development site in Kirkcaldy

Fife Council has given the green light to public art plans that will pave the way for new housing developments in Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, The Courier has reported.

The Kingdom Park plan, at the Kingslaw site at the north of Kirkcaldy, is to be the town’s biggest expansion for a generation, with as many as 1,100 homes earmarked for construction at the former opencast site.

Councillors also agreed a public art strategy for a second planning major application at Sappi Road, which borders Glenrothes and Markinch.

Planning permission for up to 300 homes at the site was approved in October of last year, subject to a suitable artwork strategy for the site being approved.

The new housing estate will also result in the upgrading of the A911 between Glenrothes and Leven, which runs alongside the planned development.

Neil Crooks, the chair of the Kirkcaldy Area Committee, hailed the impact the scheme could have on the town, including the redevelopment of the nearby Redhouse Roundabout.

“This development will be massive for the town,” he said.

“It will be great to see it coming together as we have been close a few times. But we have kept working at it and hopefully this can move forward next year.

“It is my understanding that there has been transportation issues to resolve, with a roundabout to be created and traffic lights between the Gallatown and Redhouse roundabouts.

“That is expensive for the developer but I believe the Scottish Government can help with those costs.”

Following the Glenrothes approval, local councillor Mick Green said: “This is very exciting news.

“It is a lot of houses and I’m pleased that they will be putting in a roundabout on the A911, as that road has needed upgrading. This is big news for Glenrothes.”

And finally… Video reconstruction shows historic buildings as they appeared 500 years ago

Historic buildings at the heart of St Andrews have been digitally reconstructed to reveal how they looked nearly 500 years ago before the Reformation changed the face of the town forever.

St Salvator’s Quad and Chapel, at the heart of the University of St Andrews, can now be seen in a virtual recreation which reveals how these historic buildings appeared before the religious changes of the Reformation.

The reconstruction, created by Historians and Computer Scientists at the University, drew from images and manuscripts in the University’s Special Collections department.

This is the first phase of a wider project to digitally recreate the entire burgh of St Andrews as it appeared in 1559 – just before the citizens of the town officially adopted Protestantism and set about transforming the community’s Catholic religious foundations.

The St Andrews 1559 project is led by the University of St Andrews’ Professor Michael Brown, of the School of History, and Dr Alan Miller of the School of Computer Science. The digital model of St Salvator’s was created by Sarah Kennedy of the School of Computer Science, with historical advice from Dr Bess Rhodes of the Schools of History and Computer Science and with help from students.

The St Salvator’s site was chosen as the first release from the St Andrews 1559 project because of its significance in the early phases of the Scottish Reformation. In February 1528 a 24-year-old academic, Patrick Hamilton, was burnt outside the gates of St Salvator’s College for advocating support for the German Reformer Martin Luther’s criticisms of the Catholic Church. Hamilton was the first person to be executed in Scotland for voicing Protestant ideas.

This year marks five centuries since the event regarded as the start of the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses attacking the practices and doctrines of the late Medieval Catholic church in Wittenberg, a University town in Eastern Germany.

Dr Bess Rhodes said: “We selected St Salvator’s as the place to begin our reconstruction as a major landmark in the modern university and the town. It was of course also the scene of one of the most horrific events of the Scottish Reformation – the burning of Patrick Hamilton for his Lutheran beliefs.

“Particularly chillingly, Hamilton’s death was something the university was directly involved in – playing a role in the prosecution and conviction of this very young man. Yet at the same time St Salvator’s has been the scene of fantastic academic achievement and many happy incidents in the University’s history.”

St Salvator’s College was founded in 1450 by Bishop James Kennedy as both an educational and a religious institution, providing a rigorous academic training for young men who would primarily go on to serve in Scotland’s late medieval Catholic Church.

During the Middle Ages St Andrews was the religious capital of Catholic Scotland. However, in the sixteenth century many Scots turned against Catholicism, inspired by new ‘Reformed’ interpretations of Christianity coming out of continental Europe.

In 1559 the St Andrews burgh officials (inspired by the Protestant preacher John Knox) officially rejected Catholicism, and set about transforming local religious buildings, smashing altars and statues, burning church furnishings and books, and ending the religious function of many sites within the city.

The St Salvator’s buildings were altered by the Reformation, and by further rebuilding work in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although, today only small sections of the medieval College buildings survive the glories of the medieval College can now be explored virtually.

Rosyth Waterfront development framework ‘too hastily approved’

An aerial view of the proposed 'Queensferry One' development site

An aerial view of the proposed ‘Queensferry One’ development site

The developers behind a £250 million industrial, office, warehousing and leisure development adjacent to the Queensferry Crossing have criticised a new Rosyth development framework for being “too hastily approved”.

Fife Council had been instructed by Scottish Ministers to produce a Rosyth Waterfront Development Framework to co-ordinate the range of sites and uses at the strategic location.  The framework, which was given the green light this week by the South and West Fife Area Committee, covers the 120-acre site in Rosyth known as ‘Queensferry One’, owned by developers in the joint venture Scarborough Muir Group.

However, Scarborough Muir Group has said it is disappointed that the framework was agreed, though the company remains committed to its own development.

William McAlister, property director at Scarborough Muir Group, said: “We believe that a number of fundamental steps had been missed in reaching the stage that a Development Framework was put before the committee, namely the commissioning of a comprehensive development framework master planning exercise and public consultation. Both are standard practices in a development of this scale but our representations to the planning officials were ignored.

“It is one thing to draft a Development Framework in isolation. It is quite another to ensure it is commercially viable and that it has the interests and aspirations of the community, the Council and the majority landowner at heart.

“Despite another setback caused by Fife Council, we remain very much committed to the comprehensive development of Rosyth Waterfront.”

Developer proposes to build 850 homes at Glenrothes paper mill

Aerial site of former Tullis Russell Paper Mill site in Glenrothes

Aerial site of former Tullis Russell Paper Mill site in Glenrothes

Advance Construction has submitted plans for a major regeneration project which will transform the historic Tullis Russell Paper Mill site in Fife.

The Bellshill-based company, which specialises in large-scale groundworks and civil engineering, is proposing circa 850 much-needed homes as well as retail and leisure facilities, employment, business space, industrial units and a new care home.

The Proposal of Application Notice to Fife Council also outlines plans for two public consultation events in December to give members of the public a first look at the plans.

At the heart of the 58-hectare site between Glenrothes and Markinch is an extension to Riverside Park, which will see the reclamation of an unused brownfield site to create another park that connects the new district to the town centre.

Tullis Russell went into administration in April 2015, with a total of 374 employees made redundant in the process.

Lynsey Breen, development manager for Advance Construction, said the plans will spark regeneration of the town of Glenrothes.

She said: “Advance Construction’s plans to deliver a significant number of new homes, together with creating new jobs will signal a major transformation of the area over the coming years.

“It’s an exciting regeneration project that will give Glenrothes the substantial economic boost it deserves, allowing it to continue to grow in the future.”

Lead consultants Barton Willmore will work closely with Advance Construction to provide Town Planning, Masterplanning, Landscape, EIA and Socio-Economic Assessment services during the project.

Planning director for Barton Willmore in Scotland, Colin Lavety, said: “The former Tullis Russell Paper Mill site is an important landmark historically for the town of Glenrothes. Plans to regenerate the area by delivering much needed housing together with new jobs will be a major transformation of the community over the next few years. We are delighted to be playing a part in helping give the area a new lease of life and make it an exciting place to live, work, play and visit.”

Two informal drop-in events have been organised with lead consultants Barton Willmore and design partner Fairhurst at the Rothes Halls this week.

Representatives from Advance Construction, Barton Willmore and Fairhurst will be in attendance from 1pm to 8pm on December 7 and 8 to explain the plans, discuss the project with the community and respond to any questions raised.

Lynsey added: “We would encourage members of the local community to come along to the drop-in events to find out more information and talk to members of our project team.”

Planning approval paves the way for Scotland’s largest Data Centre Campus

Queensway Park data centre GlenrothesDetailed planning approval was granted this week for phase 1 of what will become Scotland’s largest data centre facility and the first of its kind to be completely powered by a renewable energy source.

The £150 million campus will cover an area equal to eight premiership football pitches and create over 300 construction jobs during the build programme. The completed development will provide up to 100 full time jobs and will help boost other inward investment in the area once known as Scotland’s Silicon Glen.

Queensway Park Data Centres managing director, Alan O’Connor, said: “The rapidly expanding data centre industry is predicted to require 4% of global energy consumption by 2020. It is therefore imperative we maximise the use of renewable power wherever we can and minimise the impact on our environment.”

RWE owns and operate the UK’s largest biomass plant located next door and both companies are nearing completion of terms for a huge energy connection to the campus.

Fife Council’s convener of economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation, Councillor Altany Craik, said: “We are delighted Fife is set to become home to Scotland’s largest and most energy efficient data centre. Fife is at the forefront renewable energy and this development reinforces our position as one of the most innovative local authorities in the country.”

Fife Councillor Fiona Grant, chair of Glenrothes Area Committee, added: “This state of the art facility is an exciting addition to our ambitious plan for the regeneration of Queensway Technology and Business Park.”

Phase 1 at Queensway Park data centre campus is scheduled for completion by the end of next year and the completed campus will eventually host around 4,000 high performance computer racks.

Green light for Glenrothes public heating scheme

(from left) Fife Council lead professional Bill Dewar, Rev Alan Kimmitt, Barbara Whiting Fife Council lead professional and Martha Maclachlan energy promotion and development officer during a public exhibition of the plans earlier this year

(from left) Fife Council lead professional Bill Dewar, Rev Alan Kimmitt, Barbara Whiting Fife Council lead professional and Martha Maclachlan energy promotion and development officer during a public exhibition of the plans earlier this year

A project to provide heating for homes and businesses in Glenrothes from a biomass plant at nearby Markinch has received planning approval.

Councillors have granted planning permission for a vast network of underground pipes to be installed throughout the town as part of the Glenrothes District Heating Scheme.

Spearheaded by Fife Council in conjunction with energy firm RWE and the Scottish Government, the £17.1 million Glenrothes Heat scheme is a heat distribution network utilising the output from the RWE-run biomass plant at Markinch, with hopes it could be up and running by the end of the decade.

The proposal is designed to heat businesses, public facilities and offices and up to 372 homes in the town centre catchment area once fully operational.

While the project will initially focus on the town centre, further phases could see the network expand to more homes and to the south of the town, as far as Pitteuchar West Primary School, Fife College and the Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre.

Members of Fife Council’s central area planning committee approved the plans on Monday.

Council case officer Alex Laidler insisted that any disruption from laying the pipes would be kept to a minimum.

He told committee members: “There will be a need to connect pipework to homes.

“The pipework will generally follow the route of roads and will try and avoid existing utilities and greenspaces.

“All excavated land will be replaced as it is.”

Addressing concerns from councillors that additional fuel may be needed to provide the necessary levels of heat, Mr Laidler added: “The emphasis is on using the existing power plant.

“It effectively has waste heat and the aim of this is capturing about 80% of that heat to minimise any additional burning of material.”

Around £8.5m is expected to be secured from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Programme Fund, while £7m has also been committed by RWE Markinch Ltd.

£20m lodge development planned near St Andrews

Plans for the leisure hub at the proposed development

Plans for the leisure hub at the proposed development

Plans have been unveiled for a new £20 million lodge development on the outskirts of St Andrews.

Gleneagles Holiday Parks Limited hopes to create the tourist, commercial and leisure development at North Bank Farm, Lathockar, and has formally submitted new documents – including an environmental impact assessment – accompanying its application to Fife Council.

The masterplan for the near seven-hectare site has revealed the development will comprise 82 lodges of five different designs; a hub building with bar/restaurant, retail/leisure facilities and a reception area; landscaped open space and play areas; and other site infrastructure and utilities.

With the proposals tweaked following public consultation and talks with council officials, Alan Seath, from Seath Planning Consultancy, acting on behalf of Gleneagles Holiday Parks, has called on the local authority to support the project.

He argues the allocation of the site for tourism purposes in the current Local Development Plan establishes a principle for such a development.

He told The Courier: “In particular there is a demonstrable need in the St Andrews area and distinct economic advantages can be derived from this proposed development.

“The planning application is supported by a number of technical studies, including the detailed environmental statement, and these confirm that the proposed development can be accommodated without any adverse impact on the existing built or natural environment and the rural community.

“In addition, other material considerations add significant weight to the case presented by the project team to allow the council to take a positive decision on this planning application.”

Planning permission in principle was granted in March 2010 covering a larger site.

That consent was extended by a further two years to allow more time for the plans, but the current applicants acquired part of the site in December 2016 with a view to developing out the luxury lodge element of the planning permission.

They said that the increased number of lodges has been proposed “in order to offer the critical mass necessary to make this a vibrant, viable and functioning tourist development”.

The company claims the scheme would create more than 90 jobs, 25 of them at the park, and construction could begin in May.

Housebuilders look to sustain growth at annual Fife forum

(from left) Pam Ewen, Ian Drummond, Mark McEwen, Nicola Barclay, Cllr Altany Craik, Gordon Nelson, John Mills and Hugh Hall

(from left) Pam Ewen, Ian Drummond, Mark McEwen, Nicola Barclay, Cllr Altany Craik, Gordon Nelson, John Mills and Hugh Hall

Lochgelly, last year’s winner of Scotland’s Most Improved Town, was the venue of the 11th Fife House Builders Forum this week.

Over 70 delegates from across the house building industry came together at the Lochgelly Centre on Monday 13th November to discuss the recent upturn in the house building industry in Fife and debate how this growth can be nurtured and sustained.

The event, “Sustaining the Growth”, was organised by Fife Council’s Economy, Planning and Employability Service.

A packed audience was presented with a packed programme with Hazel Cross (economic advisor, Town Centre Development Unit, Fife Council) showcasing Lochgelly’s journey to becoming Scotland’s Most Improved Town; Gordon Nelson (director, Federation of Master Builders Scotland) speaking on the importance of the small and medium sized builders to the diversity and supply of new housing; Ian Drummond (managing director, Taylor Wimpey East Scotland) addressing the opportunities and blockers in maintaining housing growth; Nicola Barclay (chief executive, Homes for Scotland) emphasising the need for change, challenge and collaboration in smoothing the path to increased housing delivery; Mark McEwen (general manager, Customer Service, Scottish Water) explaining how infrastructure to enable development was being put in place; Pam Ewen (senior manager, Planning, Fife Council) highlighting the importance of the housing building industry to achieving £3 billion investment in strategic growth within Fife; Hugh Hall (principal, Fife College) tailoring the training offered by Fife College to the future needs of the construction industry; and John Mills (head of housing services, Fife Council) showing that affordable housing is key to the reduction of poverty in Fife.

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to address the House Builders Forum, particularly in light of the ongoing collaboration between Homes for Scotland and Fife Council to support the delivery of more homes of all tenures across Fife.  The key themes of change, challenge and collaboration that I highlighted in my speech must remain the focus for Fife and all other authorities if we are to strengthen trust and resolve to work together to deliver more homes.”

The Forum was chaired by Councillor Altany Craik (convenor, economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee, Fife Council) who added: “It is pleasing to see the commitment of all parts of the development community to delivering investment, skills, jobs and, above all, houses for the people of Fife. The prospects for further growth in the house building sector are good and Fife Council will work with the industry to sustain and increase this growth. Central to this is the highly successful Affordable Housing Programme and the council’s continuing drive to build on the previous success of 2,700 affordable homes already on the ground.”