Bright spark named Apprentice of the Year at Fife College

Trainee electrician Phillip Heather, a graduate of Kingdom Housing Association‘s Fife Works Construction Academy, has won Fife College’s apprentice of the year award in the Year 1 SVQ Electrical Installation.

At 29 years old Phillip, from Leven, was the oldest person to participate in the construction academy.

But his exceptional level of enthusiasm was noticed by Campion Homes which provided the trainees with work placements on  projects in Dunfermline, Leven and Cupar,  where Campion are providing affordable housing for Kingdom.

Campion were so impressed by Phillip that they offered him a formal apprenticeship as an electrician, which he started in August 2018 and he has been studying at Fife College as part of the first year of his apprenticeship.

Phillip, who was very pleased to have been given the apprentice of the year award, said: “‘I had been trying to gain an apprenticeship for the past few years before I attended the Construction Academy. I couldn’t be happier with the opportunity that Fife Works and their partnership with Campion homes has provided me with. It really has been life changing. To receive an apprenticeship award from the College was fantastic.“

Campion Homes is one of Kingdom’s main contractors and have been developing affordable housing for over 25 years, during this time they have provided more than 1000 new homes for Kingdom.

Over the last three years Campion have also been developing their business, including the work they undertake to provide affordable housing and this has involved a high level of investment on the recruitment and training of local labour.

Campion current directly employs 9 apprentices, across a range of trades and also support their sub-contractors to participate in apprenticeship programmes. They are developing their workforce in partnership with Fife Works to cater for future skills shortages.

Dougie Herd, joint managing director with Campion, said: “We are delighted that Phillip has been recognised by the college as the apprentice of the year, it is very well deserved and is reflective of the attitude and willingness to learn that Phillip has demonstrated since he came to us as a Fife Works trainee. There is a real skills shortage in the construction industry and we are grateful to Fife Works for their assistance in developing our future years apprenticeship programme.”

Fife Works is Kingdom’s employment  project and  acts as the intermediary between employers and unemployed people who are seeking employment. Since it was formed in 2008, Fife Works has helped over 3000 people with training and employability services and Phillip was the 2000th person who Fife Works has helped into work.

Lynne Dunn, Kingdom’s Fife Works Manager, congratulated Phillip on his award: “This is great news for Philip and Campion, and to build on the previous success of supporting people into employment and apprenticeships, we are pleased to announce that Fife Works will be running another Construction Academy in July to support the recruitment needs of existing and new affordable housing developments.”

Bill Banks, group chief executive with Kingdom commented,   “It’s fantastic that Phillip has achieved this award, which highlights what can be achieved when someone demonstrates the level of commitment that Phillip has shown.”

Bill added, “There is increased work on sites which will contribute to the Scottish Government’s 50,000 new affordable homes targets.  It is however important that we also deliver added value and community benefits. The collaboration between Kingdom and Campion, is a good example of what can be achieved, through delivering apprenticeships, which will have a long term positive impact for the construction sector.”

Statue of life-sized plough horse unveiled at Fife housing project

(l-r): Alastair Dee, Scottish Government; Bill Banks, KHA CEO; Freya Lees, KHA Chair; Kevin Stewart MSP

Work is nearing completion on Kingdom Housing Association’s £7.2 million affordable housing project at Pitscottie Road, Cupar. When completed, the project will provide 49 new homes, to help meet the housing needs in the Cupar area.

As part of the project, Kingdom commissioned the Motorvators Shed to design and build a life-size sculpture of a plough horse. The metal sculpture has recently been installed at the site and some of the local children from St Columbas School visited the project, following a presentation at the school by Kingdom. The name for the sculpture was picked from suggestions made by the school children and the winning name of ‘Axl’ was selected as part of a naming competition.

Bill Banks, group chief executive with Kingdom, said: “Providing new affordable housing is one of our core objectives and we try to incorporate community initiatives into all our new projects. The Cupar project provided the opportunity to work with the local school and a local social enterprise company to deliver a life size sculpture of a plough horse on the site. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved with the sculpture, it is a fantastic art piece and will be a focal point for the residents and visitors to the development, for many years to come.”

The sculpture was designed and built by the local Motorvators Project, which is part of Castle Furniture in Cupar. The Motorvators project is an adult mental health facility which provides employability skills to those who have had involvement in the psychiatric services.

Cameron Durie, senior support and development manager with Motorvators, said: “We provide workshops in auto engineering, upcycling, welding and creative craftwork in a friendly stimulating environment. The Suffolk Punch horse sculpture (AXL) was crafted over a period of 11 months by the clients and we are grateful to Kingdom Housing Association and its residents to be able to provide a sculpture which raises awareness of mental health. We hope the residents enjoy their sculpture as much as we have had creating it.”

Bill Banks and Axl

As part of the involvement with the school, Kingdom gave the school children presentations on the project, organised a competition to name the sculpture and arranged visits to the housing development.

Stephen Morrison, head teacher at St Columbas, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Kingdom and the team. The pupils were enthused at the visit to our assembly and they thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the horse, where it was situated and the fact that they had the chance to name it. The winning pupils thoroughly enjoyed the site visit to see the sculpture and seeing the name plaque unveiled.”

The project team selected a shortlist from the many entries submitted and the winning name was chosen by the team at Motorvators who made the sculpture. A plaque naming the sculpture was unveiled during the visit by the school children and the winner and runners up, in the naming competition, were presented with gift card prizes

The housing project is due to be completed in July this year and Kingdom received funding support from the Scottish Government of £3.6 million.

Earlier this year, when the installation of the sculpture started, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart MSPvisited the project to see progress with the housing and to launch Kingdom’s Socio Economic Impact Study. The study confirmed the economic and social impacts that can be gained from investment in affordable housing and highlighted the types of benefits, such as those delivered as part of the Cupar project, that can be gained from working with communities.

Work begins on Glenrothes Energy Network

A ground breaking ceremony has taken place to mark the beginning of construction for a state-of-the-art energy centre at RWE’s Markinch CHP biomass plant in Fife.

Glenrothes Energy Network is a £24 million collaborative local heat scheme between Fife Council, RWE and the Scottish Government. It will provide sustainable low carbon heat to a mix of industrial, commercial, community and domestic properties in Glenrothes as well as the Fife House complex. There will be an opportunity to expand the network to supply further homes across Glenrothes.

Members of RWE’s management team Steve Hicks and Mark Picton were joined by Fife Council officials, Cllrs Ross Vettraino and Fiona Grant, with Stephen Scott from Balfour Beatty and Scott Lutton from the newly appointed contractor Vital Energi.

Vital Energi was awarded the contract for the design and development of the Energy Centre by RWE after a comprehensive tender process. Following clearance of the land at the Markinch site, it was ready to hand over for construction in May.

Balfour Beatty has been appointed as main contractor for the heat network, and it also appointed Vital Energi as its specialist sub-contractor.

Over the past few weeks, Vital Energi has established site accommodation and started the civil engineering works. A full works programme will begin at the end of June, starting with the building of the external structure.

RWE will own the Energy Centre and provide the heat required for the network from its biomass plant; Fife Council will own the network and act as service provider and Scottish Government is supporting the development through its Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (match funded by the European Regional Development Fund). The project will be operational by the end of January 2019.

Steve Hicks, RWE project director, said: “RWE is proud to be a part of this project. It is the first district heating scheme that we have been involved with in the UK. This project is important in providing low carbon heat to support national environmental ambitions. The success of this project is down to ongoing collaboration, energy and commitment from across all of the teams and businesses involved. District heating schemes are key to providing local communities and businesses with access to cheaper heat from efficient local sources, thereby cutting CO2emissions.”

Cllr Ross Vettraino, Fife Council’s spokesperson for the environment, said: “I’m delighted to see construction work starting on Glenrothes Energy Network. This project has been in the planning stages for a number of years and is an exemplar of partnership working and what it can achieve.

“Fife is once again leading the way in tackling climate change. Bringing a district heating scheme to Glenrothes will help us reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.

“This is a major investment of nearly £24 million for Glenrothes town centre. It will not only provide clean sustainable energy but will help to secure jobs and reduce fuel poverty in Glenrothes.” 

Minister for business, innovation and energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The Scottish Government are proud to support the Glenrothes Energy Network project through our Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme. This innovative and collaborative scheme is set to deliver low carbon and affordable heat to a range of domestic, commercial and industrial users, helping to tackle fuel poverty, providing lower cost, local energy for businesses and supporting our transition to a low carbon economy.”

Stephen Scott, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s Central Scotland Delivery Unit, said: “At Balfour Beatty, we are passionate about leaving behind a positive environmental legacy wherever we work. Therefore, we are delighted to join together with RWE, Fife Council and Vital Energi today to celebrate the commencement of construction to the new Energy Centre in Fife.

“Together with our partners, we will help deliver the vast network needed to supply low carbon heat to a range of businesses, public premises and homes in Glenrothes which on completion, will help reduce carbon emissions and ultimately tackle climate change.”

Vital Energi regional director, Mike Cooke added: ”Vital Energi are delighted to have been appointed as RWE’s design and construction partner on this unique district energy project which will utilise renewable heat to serve the community of Glenrothes. The design and construction of the energy centre will be the quickest of its kind with heat on during the autumn having commenced construction in April.  Close liaison with heat customers during system connections will see existing gas connections displaced by renewable heat generating improvements to air quality and a reduction in carbon emissions.”

New affordable homes given green light in Ballingry

Plans by Springfield Properties for 140 new affordable homes for Kingdom Housing Association have been approved for Ballingry in Fife.

The housebuilder has been given approval to deliver a mix of two – three bedroom bungalows, terraced and semi-detached homes to the East of the town.

On the former Kirkland Farm land, the new homes will sit between the memorial gardens and Ballingry Meadow Wildlife site which will be linked to the development by footpaths and informal tracks.

Group partnerships managing director, Tom Leggeat, said: “To have been granted planning consent in an area where we haven’t built before is great news. We’ll be building a mix of affordable houses and bungalows with our established and local partner, Kingdom Housing Association.

“The development is open and spacious with green areas for children to play.  The homes will be energy efficient too meaning reduced running costs for the tenants.

“The construction of the new homes will bring jobs to Ballingry, which will in turn support the local economy. We are looking forward to making a start on site in the coming months.”

Green infrastructure masterplan unveiled for heart of Kirkcaldy

Another significant step towards the regeneration of the former industrial heart of Kirkcaldy has been taken with publication of a masterplan which aims to drive environmental improvements with better pedestrian and cycle routes.

The plan, covering the Victoria Road corridor, was commissioned by Fife Council and produced by the landscape architecture practice UrbanPioneers with active community consultation a key element in its production. The need for such a masterplan was a key recommendation of the design-led public consultation, or Charrette, which was carried out in the area in 2014.

The Charrette, which broadly covers an area between Victoria Road/Nairn Street in the south through to Hayfield Road to the north, has been renowned for having one of the highest concentrations of vacant and derelict land in Fife. Things are starting to turn around and there have been significant improvements in recent years particularly with completion of the 161 unit affordable housing development at Overton Road and residential and commercial proposals coming forward for a number of other major sites in the area.

Councillor Neil Crooks, convenor of Kirkcaldy area committee, said: “The Green Infrastructure Masterplan sets out an aspirational yet deliverable vision for a part of Kirkcaldy which has suffered badly over the decades due to de-industrialisation.

“This really is placemaking in action and I commend the work of UrbanPioneers and the council officers involved.”

There are still challenges though. Having new housing and greenspace close to derelict areas impacts negatively on the lives of residents.  It can deter people from using existing recreational greenspace and paths which in many instances are of poor quality and not well overlooked making them feel unsafe.

Several green networks are located within the Kirkcaldy area, with most of them originally connecting to the coast but the links have been reduced and broken through development of settlements and industrialisation. Within the masterplan area elements of the Kirkcaldy Dens network are still visible. It sets out a vision to re-establish the link to the coastline but also the creation of east to west corridors that connect the various networks.

The masterplan has been submitted by UrbanPioneers for a 2018 Scottish Design Award; nominations to be announced in June.

3500 more affordable homes in Fife

Fife Council’s Community & Housing Services Committee has given final approval to the Council’s Affordable Housing Programme, which will see 3500 new affordable homes built throughout Fife by 2022.

This phase of building builds on the 2700 new Affordable Homes built in Fife over the last Administration (2012 -2017) and includes proposals for 1500 Council houses.

The programme continues to be a great example of partnership working between Fife Council, the Fife Housing Association Alliance, the Scottish Government and private developers.

Cllr Judy Hamilton, Convener of the Community & Housing Services Committee, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that good quality, warm and safe housing is a determinant of health and well-being. It is the bedrock of strong communities.

“We are pleased to be working with partners once again and our commitment to the people of Fife is that we will deliver our new target of 3,500 new affordable homes by 2022.

“The programme that my Committee approved today will have a strong focus on building houses for specific needs, including larger family homes. By listening and talking to tenants, we have prioritised our building programme; and we are demonstrating our commitment to building affordable homes where they are needed most; and create jobs and apprenticeships, to support the Fife economy and the construction industry.”

Scott Kirkpatrick, director of development with Kingdom Housing Association, added: “The Fife Housing Association Alliance members (Kingdom Group, Glen Housing Association, Ore Valley Group and Fife Housing Group) have worked closely together and with Fife Council, for many years. Over the next five years we will be continuing this productive partnership to provide high quality housing, which helps meet Fife’s growing housing needs.”

£10m project to breathe life into Glenrothes town centre

Work has begun on a new £10 million development in the heart of Glenrothes town centre.

Atmore Properties Limited and contractor Easy Living Developments are working on the North Street site, which was once home to the recently relocated CISWO.

Not only will the development transform and regenerate the area, but it will also make way for a number of new retailers and restaurants including Marks and Spencer Food Hall, Tony Macaroni and Kentucky Fried Chicken

Councillor Altany Craik, convener for the economy, tourism. Strategic planning & transportation committee, said: “This is the largest town centre investment in Fife in over 20 years, and excellent news for local people, communities and businesses.

“We’re committed to supporting the on-going regeneration of Glenrothes town centre and are looking forward to seeing the completion of this exciting development. This is the most significant town centre development in Glenrothes for many years.”

“Speaking about the investment, Charles Shepherd, Managing Director at Atmore (Glenrothes) Limited, said: “We have worked closely with the Council and CISWO over the last three years to create an exciting masterplan, which will benefit the town and its residents.  Relocating CISWO to its new facility has unlocked the land upon which we will create a new vibrant development for residents of Glenrothes and beyond to enjoy.”

It’s expected that the development will create jobs for around 100 people and be complete by the end of the year.

Councillors agree to £86m investment in Fife’s council homes

Judy Hamilton

Fife Council is to invest more than £86 million in its council homes over the next two years with a further £42m earmarked to fund a new build affordable housing programme in 2019.

Councillors on the community and housing services committee discussed the plans last week and convener Judy Hamilton welcomed the boost that will bring improvements to homes across the Kingdom.

Councillor Hamilton said: “This investment is great news for our tenants who have already had the opportunity to see the new kitchens, bathrooms, windows and energy saving methods this money will fund at the recent Better Homes Exhibition in the Rothes Halls.

“We are committed to making sure all our homes are of the highest quality possible, and energy efficient too. Our ambition is to create a warm, dry and affordable home for every Fifer that needs one and that people are proud to live in. This investment will go a long way to delivering that.”

A total of £6m will be spent on installing new heating systems in homes which will help meet government energy efficiency targets three years early. And almost £51m will be used to fund projects including retirement housing and regeneration work. Funding will also be set aside to implement any recommendations from the Grenfell public enquiry when that is announced.

The council is also committed to providing 3,500 new affordable homes by 2022 in partnership with Fife Housing Association Alliance. The aim is to build homes of the right size and type where they are needed most – whether that’s for bigger families, elderly people, young people in rural areas or people with disabilities.

Councillor Hamilton added: “Fife invests more in housing than any other council in Scotland, which underlines how important we feel it is for our communities to enjoy quality affordable homes.”

Green light for £11m golf course on Fife coast

Councillors have approved the construction of an £11 million golf course on the Fife coast.

The 18-hole pay-as-you play course at Dumbarnie Links, near Lower Largo, was given the green light by members of Fife Council’s North East Fife planning committee despite concerns about its impact on ecologically-sensitive areas, including a designated Site of Special Interest and a Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

Committee members were assured alterations could be made to some of the holes planned to mitigate any harm. They were also promised that rare orchids said to be present in the area would be protected.

The development, which includes an 18-hole course, clubhouse and ancillary buildings, is estimated to attract 28,000 visitors a year. It is also claimed that the course could create 30 full-time jobs, 10 seasonal part-time jobs as well as work for 90 caddies.

Planner Chris Smith said there would be an economic benefit for the area.

He said: “They are not providing holiday accommodation. They want to spread the benefits to the wider community.

“Taxi firms, bus firms, local hostelries, you name it, they will all benefit from visitors coming to the site itself.”

Mr Smith also said the visual impact of the course overlooking Largo Bay would be limited, aided by 75% of the course comprising “out-of-play” areas.

“Part of the ecological and visual balance would be the formation of these landscaped areas which would involve, for example, replicating the dunes.”

Applicant Dumbarnie Links Ltd say the project would provide a high-quality links course experience, which they hope would rank in the world’s top 100 courses alongside the Old Course, Kingsbarns Golf Links and Carnoustie.

Green light for Glenrothes energy network

Fife Council has approved the construction of a district heating network in Glenrothes town centre.

A collaborative local heat scheme between Fife Council, RWE and the Scottish Government, Glenrothes Energy Network will provide sustainable low carbon heat to a mix of industrial, commercial, community and domestic properties in Glenrothes as well as the Fife House complex.

Fife Council’s co-leader David Ross said: “Today’s decision sees Fife once again leading the way in tackling climate change. Bringing a district heating scheme to Glenrothes will help us reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.”

Co-leader Councillor David Alexander added: “This is a major investment of nearly £24 million for Glenrothes town centre. It will not only provide clean sustainable energy but will help to secure jobs and reduce fuel poverty in Glenrothes.”

Mark Picton, Markinch site manager, said: “We are extremely pleased with the Committee’s decision today. We believe that the Glenrothes Energy Network delivers low carbon heat efficiently and cost-effectively. The scheme has the ability to grow and develop over the next 40 years: enabling thousands of homes and businesses to access the available heat from the power plant.

“We believe that this project is important environmentally and it could continue the very important work that Scotland has already done on de-carbonising its economy.”

Councillor Fiona Grant, Glenrothes Area Committee convener, said: “This is great news for Glenrothes. Millions will be invested in the heart of Glenrothes with the potential for significant further investment if the scheme is extended to include Warout and Auchmuty.”

The district heating network will be operational by the end of January 2019, with building and development of the network and Energy Centre beginning in spring 2018.