Fife construction trainees take next step to real jobs


Kingdom Group chief executive Bill Banks with the construction academy trainees

A group of twelve Fife trainees are celebrating obtaining their skills certificates from the Fife Works Construction Academy and are now taking up work experience positions on building sites across the region.

During the four week academy the participants gained knowledge and qualifications in manual handling, asbestos awareness, abrasive wheels and working at heights.

They also undertook the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) training test and were this week presented with their CSCS cards.

The academy was organised by Fife Works, Kingdom Housing Association’s employability project, in partnership with Campion Homes.

Bill Banks, Kingdom Group chief executive, met the participants at their award ceremony where he congratulated them on gaining their qualifications.

The participants were aged 18-29 and all live in Fife. They will now undertake work experience placements on Kingdom sites during July.

Trainee Arran Dunn, a Kingdom Housing tenant from Glenrothes who took part in the Academy, said: “I thought the training section of the academy was really good and I’ve got a lot of new qualifications from it. The work placement with Campion Homes will be really good practical experience for me and will hopefully lead to something permanent.”

Fife Works is Kingdom Housing Association’s employability project and during 2016/17 the project has helped 366 people into employment.

Joanne Aitken, senior employability officer with Fife Works, explained: “The participants have all demonstrated exceptional levels of enthusiasm and commitment and confirmed the team would continue to work with them all to help them find permanent employment.”

Bill Banks thanked the Fife Works team for delivering a successful programme and Campion Homes, who offered the trainees the opportunities to gain work experience on a number of Kingdom’s development sites throughout Fife.

Hargreaves unveils new venture company to pursue Scottish energy projects

Hargreaves-Drax-13Infrastructure group Hargreaves Services has launched a new subsidiary to oversee its portfolio of energy-related projects including energy from waste (EfW) projects in Fife and Grangemouth.

Brockwell Energy Limited has been formed to oversee the development and potential spin-off of the Hargreaves’ energy project interests, which also includes schemes in the onshore wind and flexible gas industries.

The most advanced is the proposed £150 million Earl’s Gate combined heat and power plant at Grangemouth.

The plant received planning permission in January and a memorandum of understanding has now been signed with the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to develop the scheme further.

It is expected Earl’s Gate will reach financial close before the end of this year, at which point GIB is expected to take a 50% equity stake in the project.

The company said “excellent progress” had been made on the scheme, with the plant benefitting from the ability to sell into an existing private heat and power network.

It said Earl’s Gate was expected to be one of the most efficient facilities of its kind in the UK.

“The board expects the Earl’s Gate project to generate significant long-term returns and value,” Hargreaves said in a statement to investors.

“In the short term, the successful financial closure of the project should generate a modest development premium and offer an opportunity for the group to co-invest alongside a highly credible and successful third party investor.”

The second Scottish energy from waste scheme to be taken forward by Brockwell is centred around the former Westfield open cast coal mine in Fife.

The wider redevelopment vision for the complex envisages the installation of a solar energy park and the creation of new industrial units.

Investment at Earl’s Gate and Westfield has the potential to create hundreds of construction jobs and a number of full-time posts once the sites are up and running.

Hargreaves chairman David Morgan said setting up the new subsidiary company was the best way to take forward the group’s energy portfolio.

“Exciting progress continues to be made in developing value in our energy projects,” Mr Morgan said.

“The formation of Brockwell Energy creates an opportunity to raise the specialist capital and create the partnerships necessary to enable the group to extract maximum value across the entire portfolio of energy projects whilst allowing the group to control the level of any investment and to focus on cash generation and the continuing simplification and development of the group.”

The new venture company will be headed by former Welsh Power Group non-executive chairman Alex Lambie, who has been appointed as chief executive officer.

He will be supported by Hargreaves’ chief financial officer Iain Cockburn, who will join Brockwell as CFO on a permanent basis once a successor in his current role has been recruited.

Mr Lambie said the new business had the chance to create significant value as it progressed.

“Since first engaging with Hargreaves to advise on the development of its energy projects, I have been struck by the quality of the project portfolio and the drive and professionalism of the team that has been assembled within the group to develop and manage these projects,” Mr Lambie said.

“Together, the projects and the team offer the opportunity to create significant value from the current project portfolio and provide a strong platform to develop a larger business focused on the development and delivery of energy projects across a balanced portfolio of technologies.

“I am delighted to be tasked with leading the team and excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Taylor Wimpey submits plans for Halbeath mixed-use development

A streetscene from a typical Taylor Wimpey development

A streetscene from a typical Taylor Wimpey development

Plans have been lodged for around 1,400 homes in Halbeath as part of a large mixed-use development across Fife.

Taylor Wimpey East Scotland has submitted two applications for Planning Permission in Principle (PPP) together with the necessary technical assessments for each application for the site forming part of the North Dunfermline Strategic Development Area (SDA), allocated in FIFEplan as proposal DUN 043.

One application is for the entire site and the other is for the initial phase one of the development. As part of the SDA, a Northern Link Road (NLR) (Proposal DUN 067) is required within the site and this has been incorporated into Taylor Wimpey’s development proposals.

The proposed NLR would run from north west to south east where it will link to a new railway bridge provided by Fife Council. There would also be a provision of 25% affordable housing and this equates to around 350 new affordable homes across the whole site.

The full site extends to almost 80 ha and the proposal is for a mixed-use development comprising around 1,400 new homes with a community core which includes plans for a central open space area along with a community hub which comprises a new primary school as well as land for economic development and community uses including retail. The proposed site will sit within a landscape framework that will offer a mix of amenity open spaces, woodlands, hedgerows and meadows.

The Phase 1 application area extends to just over 17ha and is located on the west side of the site. The proposal is for a residential development of around 340 new homes including around 85 affordable homes and will deliver the initial phase of Fife Council’s NLR and the landscape framework associated with this area of the site.

Both applications are the culmination of over 12 months of work by Taylor Wimpey East Scotland’s project team in consultation with the local community and Fife Council.

Pauline Mills, land and planning director for Taylor Wimpey East Scotland, said the submission of these applications is an important step in the process.

Pauline added: “Our Planning Application in Principle submissions mark a significant milestone in the process to securing formal planning approval for our development proposals that will establish the framework for future detailed housing and non-residential planning applications.

“We will continue to liaise with Fife Council and the wider community via the Community Liaison Forum that we’ve established for this project throughout the determination process. Whilst we are unable to confirm at this stage when these applications will be determined by Fife Council, we are hopeful that we will receive a decision by the end of this year.

“As well as an impressive range of new homes, our development would provide a range of economic benefits for the local area which includes supporting over 160 jobs per year of construction, as well as the attraction of new customers to local businesses and we remain fully committed to bringing forward a development masterplan that will positively transform this area of North Dunfermline.”

Main contractor fined after pensioner drowns at Fife site

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court - Image credit: user:kilnburn

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court – Image credit: user:kilnburn

A building firm has been fined after an elderly man wandered into a construction site and drowned in a trench.

John Philbin, 83, who was suffering from the onset of dementia, fell into a water-filled trench at Sandford Park, Kirkcaldy in January 2015, The Courier has reported.

Police mounted a search after he was reported missing but it was a site worker who discovered his body the following morning at the Chapel Level residential development.

Mr Philbin, who was living with family near the site, also suffered a cardiac arrest but it is not known whether it occurred before or after he fell into the water.

Main contractor Sandford Park Ltd was fined £110,000 after Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard that the site had numerous gaps in its boundary.

The company, which traded as Ambassador Homes, admitted failing to take reasonable steps to prevent unauthorised access between plots 214 and 215 and failing to ensure the site was completely enclosed, whereby Mr Philbin fell into an excavation and died.

Mr Philbin, previously of Thornton, regularly walked to his local pub for a drink and his family became worried when he failed to return home on the afternoon of January 7 2015.

Due to poor weather conditions the construction site had closed early and a ground worker made the tragic discovery the following morning as he pumped water from the flooded trench.

An inspection was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive and an improvement notice served on Sandford Park Ltd.

The court heard one of the gaps in the hedgerow, which a person could get through, was near a children’s playpark.

It was also told there had been issues with dog walkers and children gaining access to the site, which was previously used for recreation.

Following Mr Philbin’s death, the company erected Heras fencing around the whole perimeter of the site.

David Gaffney, one of the company’s three directors, issued an apology to Mr Philbin’s family.

The company’s counsel, Barry Smith, said issues with people accessing the site occurred during earlier phases of the development, previously carried out by Bett Homes, and that Sandford Park had worked with Fife Council to address these.

Public shown updated plans for St Andrews expansion

St Andrews West proposed boundaryDevelopers behind plans to build more than 1,000 homes as part of a western extension of St Andrews have advanced their masterplan proposals following feedback from a consultation survey.

Attendees at a second consultation event last week were given an early glimpse of how the St Andrews West could look, including the creation of new university facilities and a link road.

Details released by development consortium St Andrews West LLP of potential land uses show an ecological park and signature building on university land at the north-east entrance from the A91.

The Courier reports that the new Madras College, likely to be built at Langlands, would be flanked by university facilities and a community hub, which could include cafes, local shops, a care home, hotel and a place of worship.

Residential areas would lie to the west of the site, interspersed by parks.

The link road, it suggests, would be accessed by a roundabout rather than a junction from the A91, running from Station Park to an existing gap in the ridge behind North Haugh.

In response to concerns about the impact on views of the town’s medieval skyline from Strathkinness High and Low Roads, the consortium said it intended to keep development within a 15 metre high limit.

Architectural design, it said, will be influenced by that at places including Cambridge, Chapelton of Elsick, south of Aberdeen, and Strathkinness.

The consortium – comprising Headon Developments, the University of St Andrews and other landowners – gave an update on its vision for a “new urban quarter” of St Andrews during the latest stage of its consultation.

Further consultation will take place in August, before a planning application is submitted in September.

It intends to develop the land at North Haugh, Northbank, Langlands and between Strathkinness High and Low Roads over 20 years, starting in 2019.

Barratt Developments appeals for more sub-contractors in Fife

K_Balmoral_001 FinalSub-contractors in Fife are being sought to help build homes for the UK’s largest house builder as Barratt Developments looks to add to its current supplier roster.

The housebuilder is calling on sub-contractors from across Fife to come forward as the business looks to expand its workforce to meet its ambitious growth plans for 2017.

As the owner of housebuilder brands Barratt and David Wilson Homes, Barratt Developments plc is looking to ensure that it has skilled labour in place at a time when demand for new homes is on the rise.

Lee Ogg, commercial director of Barratt Homes East Scotland, said: “With a host of new developments set to launch this year, we are looking to supplement our existing sub-contractor base in Fife. From sole traders right the way through to larger firms, we are keen to hear from those who can provide trade services for the domestic building sector.

“Those who think they fit the bill could have worked with us before or be new to Barratt Developments. Alternatively they could currently be working in the commercial sector and are looking to move over to house building. The trades we’re looking for include electricians, plumbers, painter and decorators, joiners, roofers, scaffolders, bricklayers and mastic sealant contractors.”

The developer is also keen to help ambitious trades people looking to start their own businesses.

Lee added: “Sub-contractors are so important to our business and at Barratt Developments we are looking for genuine partnerships, offering regular work and mentoring. We ask anyone interested to get in touch.”

To register their interest, sub-contractors are asked to contact

Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries open after decade long project

Carnegie Library and Galleries

Carnegie Library and Galleries

The first members of the public have stepped inside the Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries (DCL&G), Fife’s newest cultural hub set in the heart of the town’s Heritage Quarter, following a 10-year design and build project.

The building, on which construction work finished late last year, was opened this week after recently winning Edinburgh Architectural Association’s ‘Building of the Year’ and ‘Large Project of the Year’ awards.

Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline

The new museum now joins two B-listed buildings – the existing Carnegie library and a former bank branch – and has a purpose-built modern extension overlooking the grounds of Dunfermline Abbey. The facility is home to a museum over two floors, three temporary exhibition galleries, a café, a shop, a new children’s library and the Reading Room – a local history, study and archives space.

Fife Cultural Trust staff, who manage and operate the facility on behalf of Fife Council, spent recent weeks moving thousands of books, museum objects, precious archives and artworks into the building.

Carnegie Library and Galleries, Dunfermline

This public opening weekend coincides with the national Festival of Museums, which runs from 19-21 May. A whole week of events for all ages start today, with a memory booth in place to record some of the initial reactions to the new building and family history sessions organised, where visitors can learn how to trace their ancestral roots.

There’s also a ‘scooter salute’ planned for 1pm on Saturday 20th May* and a full range of specialist activities for kids. Listings are available here. DCL&G is now open and admission is free.

Heather Stuart, chief executive of Fife Cultural Trust, said: “This building and all that will happen within it from here on will play a key role in the regeneration of Dunfermline through culture and heritage. This is a community project in spirit and a great deal of blood, sweat and tears from so many people have gone into bringing it to life.

“Thanks to the dedication and commitment shown by the project team, staff and over 450 volunteers, we have created a vibrant visitor attraction that will be enjoyed for many generations to come. It’s a state of the art facility and a fitting celebration of the past, present and future of Dunfermline. We are immensely proud of what we have all created together.”

Steve Grimmond, Fife Council’s chief executive, said: “This impressive new facility in the heart of Dunfermline’s Heritage Quarter is set to be a real cultural asset for Fife.

“It’s been an ambitious and demanding project for those involved but seeing the finished product and the reaction from visitors highlights just how significant this building will be for the town centre. Investing funding in the venture, alongside Heritage Lottery Fund and Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, means that Dunfermline now has a museum fitting to its royal story.”

Richard Murphy, architect of the new facility, added: “Building an extension to the world’s first Andrew Carnegie library is a great privilege and we hope that our own contribution from the 21st century will, in the fullness of time, take its place in Dunfermline’s continuing and unfolding history alongside our many historic neighbours.”

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Spring signifies the beginning of new things and for Carnegie Library and Galleries that couldn’t be truer. The community can congratulate themselves that, with the help of National Lottery funding, they have a produced a museum worthy of the ancient capital of Scotland. It will keep history safe while being the cornerstone of the town’s tourism. It will make a great contribution to people’s education and enjoyment and I look forward to seeing it blossom.”

David Walker, Chairman of Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, said: “The Trust is delighted with the outcome of this outstanding project for Dunfermline. Trustees are particularly impressed with the rebirth of this the first Carnegie Library, and the synergy with the new museum facility, a juxtaposition Andrew Carnegie would have whole heartedly approved.

“The Trustees are also enthusiastic at the opportunities ahead for the spectacular Heritage Quarter of Scotland’s ancient capital now that the plans for the re-opening of Abbot House are under way.”

On the drawing board: Fife Architects reveals 2017 renovation projects

2017 is proving to be a very busy year already for Fife Architects and since January it has begun a number of new renovations which are currently in the initial design stage.

Included here are three brief examples to showcase some of the different projects that it has been working on.

They include the remodelling of the Falkland Library, a refurbishment of an old fisherman’s cottage (overlooking the picturesque Pittenweem beach) and renovation of a Byre conversion in Perthshire.

Old Byre Renovation

Fife Architects have been working closely with the client to develop a renovation of their family home. The house is an old byre conversion located in rural Perthshire with views of the surrounding hills, fields and forests. The key design goal was to improve the clarity of the plan, which would allow for better circulation and visual connectivity throughout the building. Walls were removed allowing for visual connections between the courtyard and the garden, as well as increasing the size of the remodelled living room giving it more importance within the home. An external timber porch and boot-room will be added to the front, which will blend into the veranda which runs around to the rear of the building.

The ground floor will consist of a large kitchen, boot-room, living room, 2 bedrooms, an ensuite, 1 main bathroom and a utility room, whilst the upper floor will consist of two large bedrooms with ensuite and a mezzanine overlooking the main living space. The materiality will respect the building and its context, blending into the setting.

Listed Library Refurbishment

We have developed options to develop and renovate Falkland Library and save it from closure. Together with local community groups the library will now be managed by Falkland Community Hall Trust and is expected to reopen in the summer. The main task of the design is to improve the layout and functioning of the library. The proposal sets out to increase book, desk and reading spaces by removing the partitions, remodel the reading spaces, relocate the main desk to beside the entrance and keep an open plan layout within the main library.

The corridor and store cupboard will be removed allowing for increased library floor space which can serve as flexible meeting and gallery space. The main desk will be placed by the entrance allowing for more control over access to the building, as well as improving service. The books will mainly be arranged along the wall, allowing for the floor space to be taken by other necessary library items: sofas, e-reading desks.

Fisherman’s Beach Cottage Conversion

Fife Architects were asked to prepare an initial design for a renovation of an old fisherman’s cottage overlooking Pittenweem beach. The split level building consisted of the original house and a two storey extension to the rear. The brief was to remodel and improve the layout, turning the building into a luxurious holiday home.

The basic layout of the existing building was to remain, but the renovation involved walls being shifted and removed to create an open, light and transparent space. The level change would be made more fluid, improving circulation. The upper floor was not in need of remodelling, but an internal connection with the basement level was to be created, allowing for an additional large room within the property.

All storeys were to be connected by as transparent a staircase as possible, allowing light and views through. The materials chosen for the renovated rooms were a mix of plaster, timber, glass and brick, the latter of which accentuates any of the irregular walls within the design.

New apartments set for former St Andrews nursing home

scores4A Dundee architects’ studio and St Andrews property development company have joined forces to create a new development of homes at a former St Andrews nursing home.

The former Craigmount Nursing Home on The Scores, St Andrews is being transformed into six, two- and three-bedroom apartments, by Eastacre and Andrew Black Design.

The imposing property was built as two townhouses in 1898 and ceased trading in 2014.

scores3The project began in January 2017, with the exterior being upgraded. The property will benefit from a new roof, slate stone repairs, re-pointing, downpipes, guttering and sash and case windows with double glazing. The scaffolding is due to be removed later this month.

Internally, the building is being renovated to form three apartments within each of the old townhouses, each enjoying sensational views of the North Sea and the world-renowned Old Course. The ground floor of each will be transformed into two bedroom apartments with private, south-facing gardens, while the first floor apartments will become three bedroom apartments. The upper floor apartments will also become three bedroom properties.

scores drawingsAndrew Black said: “We are delighted to be back in St Andrews, breathing new life into this striking, historic building which will soon emerge as some of the most sought-after accommodation in Scotland. This project follows hot on the heels of our transformation of ‘Ladies Lake’, just a few minutes’ walk away and is a great opportunity to show off our skills on another high-end residential project, further reinforcing our portfolio.

“It’s also good to be collaborating with another local business which is so committed to the town and to the preservation of ancient buildings.”

scores2Iain Landsburgh, partner, Eastacre added: “In conjunction with Andrew Black Design, we are creating a fantastic luxury development on what is arguably the best and most enviable street in Scotland.

“Everything about these properties, and the views which the buyers will enjoy, are simply unrivalled and we very much look forward to revealing the transformation when the scaffolding comes down later this month.”

Fife roofing company fined after worker trapped in trench

hse-logoA Fife-based construction company has been fined after a worker had to be dug out of a trench that collapsed onto him six years ago.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard the 43-year-old employee of Wallace Roofing and Building Limited suffered a broken shoulder and collarbone as well as punctures to both of his lungs and fractures to all but two of his ribs.

Emergency services helped the rescue operation following the incident in September 2011 at a house renovation in Falkland.

A trench was being dug with an excavator to help connect the drainage system of the old property with a new extension. When the workers came across a boulder preventing them from further digging, the excavator was used to try and move the rock. The injured man, who was in the trench laying the new piping, was trying to help guide the excavator. During this operation one of the trench walls, nine feet deep, subsided, burying the worker under the dislodged earth.

Workers immediately started digging the soil away from the man’s head to allow him to breathe. He remained partially buried in the trench until the emergency services arrived and dug him free. He remained in hospital for almost three weeks.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the trench had not been supported or ‘stepped back’, to control the risk of the trench collapsing. Inspectors also found that nobody had formal health and safety training for managing a construction site and that work involving the excavated trench had not been risk assessed. As a result, workers were given instructions through verbal briefings rather than detailed, mapped out planning.

Wallace Roofing and Building Limited, of Star, Glenrothes, Fife, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was today fined £14,000.

Speaking after sentence, HSE inspector Ritchie McCrae said: “The risks associated with collapsing excavation walls are well known, as are the necessary control measures which could easily have been employed. On this occasion, the company failed to identify the risk and consequently there was a total absence of any control measure which would have prevented this incident from occurring. The injured worker sustained serious, permanent injury and is extremely lucky to still be alive.”