Kingdom Housing Association launches Construction Academy to tackle industry skills shortage

(from left) Ross McCabe, Ewan O’Donnell, Lynne Dunn, (Kingdom’s Fife Works co-ordinator), Scott Kirkpatrick, (Kingdom acting development director), Bill Banks, (Kingdom Group chief executive), Dougie Herd, (Campion Homes construction director), John Hutton, (Campion site agent)

(from left) Ross McCabe, Ewan O’Donnell, Lynne Dunn, (Kingdom’s Fife Works co-ordinator), Scott Kirkpatrick, (Kingdom acting development director), Bill Banks, (Kingdom Group chief executive), Dougie Herd, (Campion Homes construction director), John Hutton, (Campion site agent)

Kingdom Housing Association is to launch a Construction Academy to create work opportunities for young people and help address the growing skills shortage in the construction industry.

As part of its affordable house-building programme Kingdom has already partnered with its main contractors to support 22 apprenticeships and has helped to create a further nine work placement opportunities.

Now the Association is to work with its contractors to build on that success.

Lynne Dunn, coordinator of Kingdom’s Fife Works, which supports the delivery of employment and training opportunities created through community benefit clauses in affordable housing contracts, said: “Building on the previous successes of Kingdom and its contractors, we are pleased to announce that Fife Works will be running a Construction Academy to support the recruitment needs of existing and new affordable housing developments, in particular, the regeneration of Fraser Avenue in Inverkeithing.”

Lynne added: “A 4-6 week training course is planned for June 2017, where 12 unemployed Fife individuals will undertake a variety of accredited construction training courses including CSCS, Manual Handling, PASMA, Working at Heights and Asbestos Awareness followed by a work placement at one of Kingdom’s affordable housing sites with Campion Homes.”

Paton Street, Dunfermline siteKingdom Housing assoc and Campion Homes with Fife works at the Paton Street Site Dunfermline. Plant operator Ross McCabe with Ewan O'Donnell

Plant operator Ross McCabe with Ewan O’Donnell

Dougie Herd, construction director with Campion Homes, said: “We are very pleased to be participating in the planned Construction Academy that will take place later this year which aims to provide real employment opportunities for local people, as part of the East Inverkeithing regeneration project.”

He added: “We have worked with Kingdom, as one of their framework contractors for many years and the continuity of work, through a planned programme of projects, provides us with the opportunity to incorporate various community benefits into the capital contracts. Over the last few contracts we have successfully been able to help four people with training and placement opportunities on our sites and have created 23 new jobs, including five new apprenticeships.”

Bill Banks, Kingdom Group chief executive, added: “New development projects provide opportunities to create community benefits as well as providing good quality affordable housing. The Construction Academy is an example of how we have been able to provide added value in terms of education, skills development and training, as part of our commitment to build strong communities.”

Ewan O’Donnell, who gained a job with Campion Homes after approaching Fife Works for help to find a job, welcomed the launch of the Construction Academy.

He said: “It is a great idea. It certainly worked for me. I was supported to attend various training courses including emergency First Aid, manual handling, Health and Safety Awareness and I gained my Construction Skills Certification Scheme card. I then had a period of work experience, through Campion Homes, at a Kingdom Housing development site in Leven.  After further training I was employed by Campion on a full time basis.”

Plant operator Ross McCabe with Ewan ODonnell and Lynne Dunn, Fife Works Co-ordinator

Plant operator Ross McCabe with Ewan ODonnell and Lynne Dunn, Fife Works co-ordinator

Ross McCabe, who was an unemployed Kingdom tenant but secured a job with Campion Homes after contacting Fife Works to find work, is another supporter of the new Construction Academy.

Fife Works identified a demand for plant machinery operators across Fife and Tayside and organised training for Ross to gain a Construction Plant Competency card. After seeing his CV, Campion agreed to employ him as a labourer on their Dunfermline sites. This role also included plant machinery operation, allowing him to gain essential hours of experience of driving the machines. He has now saved up and bought himself a car, allowing an easier commute to work.

Ross said: “I’m really thankful to the guys from Fife Works for supporting me to get through the plant operating training. Without the support to get through the training and help to actually get a job I wouldn’t be where I am today. Previously I had been working with agencies on short term contracts but now feel that I can use this training to build a career.”

Anyone interested in attending the Academy, or seeking more information, they should call Kingdoms Fife Works Team on 01592 862304.

Planning consent for combined gas peaking and battery storage plant in Fife

Gas Peaking Plant ExampleEnvironmental planning consultancy Atmos Consulting has secured planning permission for a 19.8MW gas peaking plant and 20MW battery storage plant in Glenrothes.

In keeping with Sainc Energy’s commitment to promote sustainable energy solutions, the development also intends to launch a research and development centre for innovative energy technologies.

The project will bring significant investment to the local area and utilise local resources, promote energy independence and generate sustainable long term jobs in the energy sector.

In addition the project will be a significant production facility to the UK capacity market as the energy it produces will contribute to the services needed for the smooth operation of the national grid and the stability of power supply. The plant will be operational 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Sarah Whyte, senior EIA consultant and project manager, said: “I am proud to have worked on this project which I think is an excellent opportunity for the local area, especially in terms of local investment, lower carbon energy production and education by capitalizing on the opportunity to give back to the community and teach others about sustainable energy solutions.”

Atmos MD Jean Curran added: “Scotland is currently setting out its draft energy strategy for 2050 with a clear aspiration for long-term, sustained decarbonisation and secure, reliable supplies of energy when they are required. Energy storage is an increasingly important element of our energy infrastructure and we are pleased to be part of innovative efforts to store and manage low carbon energy.”

With a combined value of £28 million, the battery power portion of the project will be the first energy storage facility of its kind within Fife. Sainc Energy is aspiring to lead the way in storage innovation and is in advanced discussions with world leading battery technology providers and alternative energy storage systems to work on developing software in relation to Virtual Power Plant (VPP), a concept of integrating several types of power sources for optimization of overall power supply.

When fully operational, the R&D Centre will employ up to 12 high calibre technical and scientific personnel to provide the control of the site operations, and undertake the R&D activities.

Speaking on behalf of Sainc Energy, Kamaljit Sood said: “We are delighted to have secured planning consent for this important project that will support the Energy market and invest in innovation to help meet Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets. I would like to thank Atmos consulting for their professional and diligent work in getting us to this stage.  We will be pleased to continue to work with Atmos and the council to meet the planning conditions en-route to building out a successful project.”

Planning process begins for new Madras College at Langlands

Madras CollegeA Proposal of Application Notice has been lodged to deliver a £50 million replacement building for Madras College at Langlands.

Earlier this year, Fife Council’s executive committee conditionally approved the Langlands site as the preferred location for a new Madras College.

Senior manager Alan Paul said: “The proposed development of the new school will be treated as a major planning application and consistent with this we are required to lodge our Proposal of Application Notice (or PAN) in advance of an application for full planning permission, which will be submitted in due course. The lodging of our PAN initiates the formal planning process for development of the new school at Langlands.”

A statutory education consultation on the proposal is currently underway, with the outcome of this process set to determine whether or not work will start towards achieving full planning permission.

The consultation will run until 12 May 2017.

Cupar retail park given the green light by councillors

Cupar retailProposals for a new shopping centre on the outskirts of Cupar have been given the go-ahead by Fife Council.

Six large units for food and non-food retail and including a takeaway are to be built next door to the Tesco supermarket on South Road.

It is not yet known which retailers are likely to occupy the premises but it was previously indicated some well-known names had expressed interest.

The proposals by SC Cupar Ltd had been recommended for approval by planners, subject to a number of conditions.

Members of Fife Council’s north-east planning committee voiced concerns about road safety, particularly for children walking or cycling past the site to and from school, but gave unanimous approval.

Bryan Wilson, group development director of London and Scottish Developments, said the company was grateful for the committee’s decision and added: “We are looking forward to bringing this derelict site back to life with an exciting new retail development and will be making announcements about the programme and occupiers over the next few weeks.”

Access to the development will be provided from a new mini-roundabout on South Road and there will be 183 car parking spaces.

Plan for luxury homes would see historic Newport hospital demolished


(Image: Google)

Developers are set to submit plans to demolish Netherlea Hospital in Newport, Fife, to make way for a collection of luxury homes costing up to £650,000 each.

Netherlea, red sandstone mansion  built in the late 19th century, closed in 2011.

It would be demolished to make way for the new development of between 35 and 45 properties, which would be up to four storeys high.

Boasting views across the Tay and a few minutes’ drive from Dundee, a two bedroom flat at the site could cost around £275,000.

Law Property Group, who are acting as agents for the developers, said it was a prime development for local residents looking to downsize.

David Hagan from Law Property Group said: “We’ve talked to the planners and there’s not a great appetite for keeping the hospital.

“It wasn’t a great building in the first place and it’s not in a great condition. It’s not an attractive building.”

He said a planning application could be submitted by the end of April.

“These homes are going to have fantastic views across the Tay, to the Law, Sidlaws and the new V&A.

“The development and landscape design will be world class.”

The plans are currently on display at Newport Library.

“The reason for having the display at Newport Library is so our ideas can be informed by feedback,” he added.

“We’ve already had some positive feedback but there are a couple of things people have said they didn’t like.”

£3m tennis arena set for St Andrews

1763_St-Andrews-University_View02_Final_Amended_10thNov2014A new state-of-the-art indoor tennis arena is to be built in St Andrews with the aim of encouraging more people to pursue the sport at all levels.

The £3 million four-court centre is being funded by the University of St Andrews, Sportscotland, Tennis Scotland, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), a private donor and the St Andrews alumni community.

It will be built at the University’s Sports Centre at St Leonard’s Road.

St Andrews is investing over £14m in its sports facilities which have won praise from Manchester United, Barcelona, Dundee United, Scottish Rugby and a host of other professional teams who are regular visitors to Fife for training camps.

The new centre will allow the University to achieve its aim of running a comprehensive and inclusive tennis programme that caters for increasing participation, competitive opportunities and coaching for all ages and levels.

Local schools in Fife will have regular access to the new centre on school days, and student tennis players will be encouraged to work with youngsters to develop coaching and volunteering experience.

The centre will also cater for a rapidly growing student tennis club programme from recreational to top team level.

Mike Aitken, St Andrews director of tennis, said: “The building of a four-court indoor centre is hugely exciting for the whole tennis community. It will be a fantastic venue offering a full coaching and competitive programme as well as pay and play for members of the community. We will cater for students, staff, schools, local clubs and disability groups by offering sessions for all levels.

“We will also play our part in the district, Tennis Scotland and LTA development plans with competition, player development and coach education.

“We hope to run a programme that will get more people playing more tennis at whatever level and provide a great experience for those using the facility.”

Tennis Scotland interim chief executive officer, Pete Nicholson, said: “Tennis Scotland is delighted to support this exciting development which fits perfectly with our ambitious, evolving Facilities Strategy.

“We look forward to forging many similar indoor partnerships across Scotland and will be confirming the application process for our new Indoor Tennis Fund in April.”

St Andrews director of sport, Stephen Stewart, said: “The Tennis Club enjoys one of the highest participation rates of any sport at the University and has over 200 members. Whilst the existing outdoor courts are hugely popular, their use is wholly weather dependent and our ability to develop tennis as a key sport has therefore been enormously compromised. We are thoroughly delighted that with the installation of the new four-court indoor tennis centre we will now be able to offer our students, local schools and the community the opportunity to train and play in a quality, fit for purpose facility all year round.

“Through our Performance Tennis Programme we operate eight competitive teams, which is as many as any other Scottish University, whilst also catering for a massive recreational group of casual players. The new facility will enable us to develop our performance programme, and increase our ability to offer coach education, whilst simultaneously supporting Tennis Scotland’s regional development plans.

“We are very grateful for the support from Sportscotland, as well as the generosity of a number of other significant partners – our loyal alumni and friends – without whose help this project would not have been possible.”

Work on the new centre will begin this week and it’s expected to be complete in September.

£15m investment boost for Fife and North Ayrshire infrastructure

Derek Mackay

Derek Mackay

Finance secretary Derek Mackay has confirmed a £15 million investment to develop infrastructure in the country.

Applications by Fife and North Ayrshire Councils, through the Tax Incremental Financing scheme (TIF), have been approved and the councils are now set to work with the Scottish Futures Trust on more detailed businesses cases.

The Fife application for £10m TIF investment is for the Fife Interchange distribution and business park development that would help to develop 22 hectares of land and is expected to provide leverage for private sector investment of £75m to £100m.

The £5m TIF funding in North Ayrshire Council will be used to construct roads and services within the i3 Irvine, Innovation and Industry Park, with the potential to facilitate up to 26 sq m of industrial buildings. The TIF is expected to bring wider economic benefits of around 400 additional jobs, securing existing jobs and investment in the new region and promoting the life sciences hub in Irvine.

TIF enables councils to fund infrastructure by borrowing against future business rates that are generated as a result of attracting more businesses into the area.

Mr Mackay said: “This investment in Fife and North Ayrshire will redevelop and regenerate the local areas, making them attractive places to do business, which will unlock significant economic development and regeneration.

“The TIF scheme is just one part of this government’s innovative approach to investing in infrastructure. Boosting capital spending is key to economic growth, supporting jobs, apprenticeships and helping the Scottish economy.”

Tony Rose, infrastructure director at the Scottish Futures Trust, added: “TIF as a mechanism provides another lever for local authorities to enable and deliver inclusive growth and secure additional levels of private sector investment.

“These two new TIF projects demonstrate great ambition and we look forward to working with the two local authorities to bring their visions to life for the benefit of the local communities.”

Council unveils £10m Fife roads investment

Fife CouncilFife Council has announced a £10 million investment to improve roads throughout the region until 2019.

The additional funding, approved at a council budget meeting last month, will be used to improve urban named roads, footways in housing precincts, rural primary routes as well as the general condition of all roads.

David Brown, service manager for network management, said: “We recognise the need to maintain and improve roads across Fife and this additional investment will be put to good use.

“Area Transportation Works Programmes for 2017/18 have been approved by all seven Area Committees costing approximately £5.7m. The increased funding allows these projects to progress and for additional sites to be identified and included.

“Over the next few weeks we’ll be working with elected members to identify any new locations that should be added to our roads maintenance programme.”

Kirkcaldy town centre redevelopment plans on show

An indicative image of a potential design for the cinema

An indicative image of a potential design for the cinema

Plans for a new eight-screen cinema, together with four new restaurant/bar units within the Mercat Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy, are to go on exhibition to the public for the first time this month.

LaSalle Investment Management, the shopping centre’s asset manager, is proposing a cinema and leisure facility on the site of the former swimming pool that is annexed onto the Mercat Shopping Centre.

A pre-application notification has been lodged with Fife Council in advance of a formal planning application being submitted.

The public exhibition and consultation will take place within the Mercat Shopping Centre on Friday, 24 March 12.30 – 17.30, and Saturday, 25 March 09.30­ – 13.30.

Leader of Fife Council and Councillor for the Kirkcaldy North Ward, Cllr David Ross, said: “I really welcome this proposal from LaSalle Investment Management that could deliver an exciting major town centre re-development scheme.

“Whilst this is at an early stage in the planning process and there’s no guarantee, at this stage, that it will go ahead, we have been working with LaSalle over the last few years, and I believe their proposal is credible and realistic.

“This development proposal has the potential to deliver real economic benefits to the town centre and the wider community in Kirkcaldy. It would provide another significant sign of positive change in Kirkcaldy town centre, as well as providing the potential to roll out further investment across the town centre.”

Cllr Neil Crooks, Councillor for the Kirkcaldy North Ward, added: “Fife Council and the Kirkcaldy Ambitions Partnership Group have made substantial investments to date in revamping the Kirkcaldy Galleries, new high street public realm, improvement to the esplanade multi storey car park, reduced car parking rates, installation of town centre WiFi, new signage and interpretation, the opening of the Adam Smith Heritage Centre and work to maximise the potential of Kirkcaldy’s waterfront.  We hope that this important work will continue to act as a catalyst for other new town centre regeneration projects to come forward that enhance Kirkcaldy’s night time and leisure offerings.”

Planning application for the scheme is expected to be submitted to Fife Council in Summer 2017, subject to any issues that may arise from the pre application notification process.

Langlands site given official approval for new Madras College

Madras CollegeCouncillors have formally agreed that the £50 million replacement for Madras College should be built at Langlands in St Andrews.

The University of St Andrews-owned site was selected by Fife Council’s executive committee as the preferred location on educational grounds after legal challenges dogged the proposed development for over a year.

The site, in the west end of the town, was initially ruled out in favour of another location in Pipeland.

A judicial review into a challenge by St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd (STEPAL) was dismissed in March 2015 but the construction of the £40 million school was delayed until January this year after an appeal to the Court of Session.

However, following the legal challenge, Fife Council was forced to go back to the drawing board.

In addition to Langlands, three options were still in the running for the replacement Madras: a remodel of the existing Kilrymont site, and locations on Craigtoun Road and Strathkinness Road.

In a report put before Fife Council’s executive committee, Carrie Lindsay, education and children’s services executive director, confirmed Langlands as the preferred option.

She stated: “Having considered a range of factors, the more detailed site assessment process that has now been undertaken supports the initial education service view expressed at the executive committee meeting on December 13 2016 that, on balance, Langlands offers the best location for replacement of Madras College.

“In particular, the site offers the advantage of co-location with the university, potential scope for an integrated sport and community facility encompassing the school and university facilities and the early delivery of a permanent access solution, which would minimise the environmental impact of vehicle movements generated by the school on the rest of St Andrews.”

The decision is still subject to an option agreement with the university for the acquisition of a suitable site forming part of the land owned by the university at Langlands, and the completion of a full planning assessment for development on the Langlands site as part of the overall masterplan for the St Andrews West area.

The public will have their chance to have their say on the new plan between March 13 and May 12.