Keppie Design

Scottish Government rejects plea to call-in £140m Midlothian film studio

StudioThe Scottish Government has rejected a request to call-in plans for a £140 million film and television studio development in Midlothian.

Developers PSL Land Ltd’s attempt to speed up a planning decision on their proposals was made after it claimed the council failed to decide on the campus within their stated time frame.

Planned for soon to be delisted greenfield land to the west of the A701 at Straiton, the facility would be Scotland’s first purpose-built film studio complex.

However, after Midlothian Council delayed its decision on the scheme, PSL wrote to the Scottish Government to “call in” the plans and consider them.

The request was sent to Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for social justice and communities.

However, the developers had their bid rejected.

In the reply, from the Local Government and Communities Directorate, Planning and Architecture Division, the developers were told that ministers – who have the power to call in any live planning application for determination – would only do so if the proposal “raised issues of genuine national interest.”

The letter goes on: “Having considered the information available for this proposal and while noting the major potential of the proposal and the intended delivery of an energy centre and film studio for Scotland; Ministers do not propose to call-in the application at this time.”

The developers are now appealing the decision.

Ministers urged to call in Midlothian studio plans following council delay

StudioDevelopers behind plans to create a £140 million film and television studio development in Midlothian have requested that the Scottish Government call-in their application for consideration claiming the council is taking too long to make a decision.

Scottish International Studios, otherwise known as PSL Land Ltd or Pentland Studios, claimed the local authority’s planning committee failed to decide on the campus set for soon to be delisted greenfield land to the west of the A701 at Straiton within their stated time frame.

Comprised of sound stages, a substantial backlot complex, employment land, hotel, power plant, film school and student accommodation, the new development would occupy 86 acres of land between the planned A701 bypass and the current road.

Having submitted an application in May this year, developers were expecting their proposals to be determined a statutory 16 weeks later on September 5th, however the date passed without the required consideration by the council’s planning committee. The developer said that they continued to work with the authority after this date:

PSL Land Ltd has had the option to lodge this request with the Scottish Ministers from 6 September 2015, however chose to continue to work with Midlothian Council planning officers towards achieving a positive recommendation to the Planning Committee to grant Planning Permission in Principle for the proposal by December 2015.

Now 28 weeks since the application was submitted, PSL Land say that the council’s planning officers are signalling that they will be unable to assess the application until the draft Local Development Plan (LDP) is ratified by the Scottish Government in June 2016. Developers added that officials believed there would be a “significant departure from the Development Plan” should the application be approved.

Documents published on Midlothian Council’s website state that the studios have been asked to redraw their application taking into account the proposed routing of the new A701, which is set to bisect the development site. Current plans show the new road running to the west of the land, running alongside housing at Damhead.

There are fears amongst planners at the council that the emerging “development plan could fall” should developers be giving permission. This however contradicts the view of some elected members, namely independent Councillor Peter de Vink, who stated that “the council should bend over backwards” to accommodate the plans.

Should ministers call-in the application before 4 December, PSL Land ltd will not appeal for non-determination through the government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), as they are allowed to under planning law. If this date passes without ministerial acceptance, the developer will appeal and start the necessary proceedings that remove the council from determining the application, placing the decision making powers in the hands of an assigned reporter.

In response to the council’s position on delaying the determination, PSL Land added: “PSL Land Ltd would wish to state they have no issue with the assessment, but raise considerable concerns as to why it has taken until week 28 of the decision-making process to adopt this position, particularly as Midlothian Council intend in the Emerging Local Plan to remove the Greenbelt designation on the PSL Land site.

“As a result of this change in position by the Midlothian Council officials, PSL Land Ltd have lodged a request for the application to be called in by Scottish Ministers for consideration as a project of national importance.”

The Keppie Design penned proposals would create Scotland’s first purpose built film studio and, according to developers, could deliver millions of pounds and create hundreds of jobs in Midlothian. PSL Land began discussions with Midlothian Council in the middle of 2013, saying they received strong early support from officers and elected members. The site at Old Pentland was selected out of a possible 28 other candidates throughout the country for its access to land and the transport links to Scotland’s capital.

It is believed that three other sites in Scotland are being considered to create a national film studio, though PSL Land Ltd are the only developers to submit plans.

Revised plans approved for new and existing AECC sites

06a smallCouncillors have approved new masterplan documents that will guide the development of a proposed new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) at Bucksburn and the existing site at Bridge of Don.

Members of Aberdeen City Council’s communities, housing and infrastructure committee also approved revisions made to the planning frameworks following responses made during a six-week period of public consultation.

In March it was confirmed that developer Henry Boot would build the £333 million exhibition centre along with two hotels and a clean energy power station in Dyce.  Keppie Design was appointed as architects for the AECC the following month.

Among the changes to the Rowett North masterplan agreed by the committee today were improvements to the site layout, architectural and landscape design.

The requirement for an underpass and path connecting to the Newhills area has been strengthened within the framework document.

The framework for the existing Bridge of Don site will also include revisions relating to the steps and processes that are required prior to a final decision of the location and provision of a planned Household Waste Recycling Centre.

The masterplans will now inform the future development of both sites – at Rowett North near the city’s airport and at the current AECC complex at Bridge of Don.

07 smallCommunities, housing and infrastructure committee convener, Councillor Neil Cooney, said: “This represents a major step forward in the plans for a new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, which is a key development identified within the City Council’s Strategic Infrastructure Plan.

“I am pleased that so many members of the public, as well as the local business community and other organisations, have taken the opportunity to have their say as part of these consultations.

“This is a very exciting project, and I think it is important to note that no-one as objected in principle to the development of the site for a new AECC.”

aecc-2-660x496Full plans for the development were submitted in August this year, three months after Henry Boot put forward a planning permission in principle application.

It had been feared that the project could be cancelled altogether if the project failed to receive government funding. However new proposals to reduce the public cost of the facility was agreed in March, followed by a £10m grant from Scottish Enterprise in July.

The new AECC is planned to be the centrepiece of a business and leisure-led mixed use development at Rowett North that would provide a four-fold increase on the available exhibition space at the existing AECC and also double the seated entertainment arena to a capacity of 10,000.

The development has been forecast to attract an additional 31,000 business tourists to the North East of Scotland and result in an additional £11m of visitor spend per annum (£113m by 2025).

It is also forecast to deliver an additional £63m net additional GVA (Gross Value Added) to the Scottish economy and create more than 350 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs by year 10 of operation.

Planning applications for both the new and existing sites are due to be considered by the planning development management committee at a later date.

New images spark public consultation on CairnGorm Mountain visitor centre

CairnGorm Mountain 3Plans for a proposed multi-million pound project to enhance facilities on CairnGorm Mountain and transform it into a year-round destination will go on public display for the first time this week.

Natural Retreats, which currently operates CairnGorm Mountain, is holding consultation events on Wednesday 28th October, Wednesday 4th November and Thursday 5th November (all 11:30 am – 7pm) in the Aonach Room of the CairnGorm Mountain Base Station. These events will allow local people and interested parties to view the proposals, hear from members of the project team and architects Keppie Design and have their say on the plans.

Natural Retreats aims to create a world class mountain destination with all-year-round appeal by sympathetically enhancing the visitor facilities and broadening the activities that the mountain destination offers. The project, which has an estimated cost in the region of £10 million-£15m, will include a replacement day lodge building with food and beverage outlets, shops, ski and bike hire, a crèche, adventure zone, gym, offices and conference and event space. There would also be staff bunkhouse accommodation which would allow the facilities to open earlier and close later and a mountain rescue and medical centre.

Also proposed as part of the plans are an artificial ski slope, mountain biking, increased snow making facilities, improvements to the ski uplift, ski slopes and runs, improved signage and way-finding, and improvements to car parking and landscaping.

Wherever possible, Natural Retreats plans to use local firms to carry out the work, and source Scottish materials for the construction of the new building.

Natural Retreats has already submitted a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for the plans and met with Highland Council and the Cairngorm National Park to discuss the proposals ahead of submitting a formal planning application for the project.

Adam Gough, head of technical services at Natural Retreats, said: “CairnGorm Mountain is one of the most beautiful and most visited places in Scotland. We want to create a world class facility that matches the stunning setting and increases the long term economic benefit to the local communities in the Badenoch and Strathspey area. Current activities on the mountain are heavily weather-dependent and the buildings are no longer fit for purpose. This project will address both of these problems and transform CairnGorm into a four-season mountain destination. We expect that this additional activity at the mountain will result in the creation of an additional 40-50 jobs.

“As part of the planning process, we have already carried out a number of pre-consultation meetings with Highland Council and Cairngorm National Park and we have been greatly encouraged by the positive response so far.

“We are now keen to hear the views and feedback on our plans from as many tourists, local people and businesses as possible at these consultation events. The responses that we receive will then be taken into account as we move forward. We will keep participants up to date with the progress we make with our detailed plans prior to our planning applications being submitted early next year. I truly believe our plans will elevate CairnGorm Mountain to one of Europe’s top leisure and adventure destinations, which would be a fantastic boost to the area’s economy.”

Full plans submitted for £333m Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre

AECC-Internal-View-of-Club-LoungeCouncillors are to consider proposals for a new £333 million Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) after full plans were submitted by developers.

Henry Boot Developments is to partner Aberdeen City Council on the public/private project at Bucksburn which includes a four-star hotel with restaurant and spa facilities.

A 1,200-space underground car park as well as conference and exhibition space will also form part of the plans drawn up by Keppie Design.

A lift will take those parking underground to the main AECC civic square.

If approved, the underground facilities will measure 31,000 sq m – enough space for more than four football pitches.

The submission of full plans comes three months after Henry Boot put forward a planning permission in principle application, which is expected to be discussed by councillors on October 29.

AECC arenaIt had been feared that the project could be cancelled altogether if the project failed to receive government funding. However new proposals to reduce the public cost of the facility was agreed in March, followed by a £10m grant from Scottish Enterprise in July.

Aberdeen City Council finance convener Willie Young said he hopes the underground event space will be used for major international conventions.

He told the Evening Express: “When we have oil events at the current AECC at the Bridge of Don it’s clear we struggle with space and parking.

“We need as much space as possible and this shows we are committed to providing this at the new AECC.

“These spaces will then be opened up for events.

“If you want to compete with Germany and France then we need something like this.

“If we have a world class facility Aberdeen’s reputation is for all to see.

“There are huge conventions we previously couldn’t compete with around the world.

“Glasgow isn’t our competition – it’s globally that we need to concentrate on.”

Henry Boot Scottish director, Nick Harris, said: “When it opens, the new AECC is expected to make a significant contribution to the Scottish economy.

“It will allow Aberdeen to compete on an international scale and attract major artists to the city.”

It’s anticipated the full planning application will be discussed at the city council’s planning development management committee on December 10.

If approved, building work on the new AECC is expected to start early next year.

Go-ahead for £15m mixed-use plan at former Dundee college

Vox DundeeWork on a £15 million mixed-use transformation of a former Dundee college will start towards the end of the year after councillors gave their backing for the development.

Property developer Whiteburn Projects said its innovative Vox Dundee development will offer a “dynamic space to work, rest and play”.

The Keppie Design project will see the rebirth of the former college as a mixed-use community on the edge of the city centre, providing 110 flats, workspace and a new café fronting Constitution Road in the city. As well as incredible views over Dundee, residents and workers will enjoy the use of a gym, lounge, cinema / auditorium and extensive landscaped gardens.

Vox Dundee 2The existing college building was formally opened in May 1970 as the Dundee College of Commerce. It overlooks the city and the Tay estuary, and it remained in operation for over 40 years until its closure in 2011.

The developer plans to retain the concrete underpinnings of the building, but will otherwise strip the structure back to its basics before creating a vibrant new scheme.

It’s expected that demolitions and pre-construction work will start towards the end of this year and progress into early next year. The projected first release of apartments for sale is expected in spring 2016.

Eve McCurrich, development manager for developer Whiteburn Projects, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured this permission that will transform the former college building and bring such a diverse and interesting development to Dundee. Vox Dundee will offer a development that truly is a dynamic space to work, rest and play.

“Our philosophy at Whiteburn is to create urban spaces that challenge the status quo, and we’re really excited to be able to deliver this new way of city living right in the heart of Dundee. We’re looking forward to getting our pre-construction works underway and delivering this unique concept in the heart of Dundee.”

New Dumbarton council office submitted for planning

West Dunbartonshire Council office1Planning permission and listed building consent applications for a new West Dunbartonshire Council office building in Dumbarton have been submitted by Keppie Design.

The £14.6 million project, being delivered by hub West Scotland in partnership with the council with architects Keppie and main contractor Lend Lease, comes 150 years after the foundations of William Lieper’s original Academy Building were laid.

The development has recently achieved ‘Stage One’ approval from the council, and is now progressing into detailed design. The 5,455 sqm building will provide new, BCO compliant offices, meeting spaces and civic facilities in the heart of Dumbarton. The scheme will retain, repair and restore the Grade-A Listed façade to form a new administrative centre for West Dunbartonshire Council and the local community, helping the regeneration of the town centre.

The curtilage of the existing facade forms the main entrance and new ‘one-stop shop’ while also housing a new civic space and training rooms on the upper floor. Designed to achieve a BREEAM excellent rating, project incorporates a central atrium space creating a link between ‘old and new’ and providing a social heart to the workplace which supports the naturally ventilated, open plan office space. An enhanced public realm space on Church Street will create the setting for the restored façade with a new, terraced, landscaped amenity space formed off Castle Street.

The rational brick envelope of the extension is designed to both complement and respect the blonde sandstone of the Academy building. The design will also provide a number of expansive views to Dumbarton Rock which will help to encourage investment in town centre businesses.

Councillor Patrick McGlinchey, convener for infrastructure and regeneration, said: “I am delighted that the plans for the new Council offices in Dumbarton are continuing to move forward. As well as renovating one of the most iconic buildings in the town centre, the move will help to revitalise the High Street by bringing increased footfall to the shops.”

Richard MacDonald, commercial director at Keppie added: “It has been a privilege to be involved in a project that has the opportunity to retain William Lieper’s Academy façade and integrate it into a significant new project in the regeneration of the town centre. Our aim has been to respect the architectural significance of the original building, to repair its façade and to see it become part of a modern, flexible workplace. We want to preserve its civic nature by housing the community operations within its envelope, keeping the new office floor plates efficient, flexible and well lit, to the rear of the site.”

Doors open at Keppie’s Ronald McDonald House in Glasgow

Ronald McDonald House14The new Keppie-designed Ronald McDonald House has opened its doors at the South Glasgow Hospitals Campus.

The £3.4 million facility, run by independent charity Ronald McDonald House Glasgow, provides free amenities and accommodation for families of sick children from all over Scotland who are being treated in the adjacent Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Built by CCG Scotland on a prominent corner site within the hospital campus, the light, airy and welcoming building offers families an opportunity to retreat from the overwhelming aspects of the hospital environment. The industrial façade that fronts the busy Govan Road, and references the area’s strong shipbuilding heritage, shields the building from traffic noise and the institutional surroundings of the South Glasgow Hospitals Campus.

The 1,940 sqm building comprises three traditional brick forms with slate pitched roofs, connected by glazed openings that add distinction to the main entrance. A calm, domestic feel has been achieved by carefully considered massing and use of rustic white brick. The interior spaces use high-quality materials, finishes and fixtures throughout, and ceilings follow the external roofline to provide added drama to communal spaces such as the lounge, kitchen and children’s play area.

Nestled behind the building are a series of semi-enclosed courtyards with an oasis of trees, shrubs and plants that provide relaxing outdoor spaces for residents.

David Ross, design director at Keppie, said: “It has been wonderful for us to work on such a worthwhile facility that is crucially important to the families who use it. Our aim was to create a building that addressed the sensitivities of its users who are reaching out for comfort, reassurance and respite at a very difficult time in their lives. With this design we feel we have really achieved the human scale and the nurturing “home from home” environment that we intended.”

Structural engineers on the project was Peter Brett Associates while Doig & Smith acted as quantity surveyor/employer’s agent.

Mixed-use plans submitted for former Dundee college

Vox DundeeWhiteburn Projects is planning to transform a former Dundee college into a vibrant mixed-use community providing 110 flats, workspace and a new café.

The property developer submitted a planning application for its Vox Dundee development to Dundee City Council on Friday.

The Keppie Design-penned proposal also includes a gym, lounge, cinema / auditorium and extensive landscaped gardens.

The existing college building on Constitution Road was formally opened in May 1970 as the Dundee College of Commerce. It overlooks the city and the Tay estuary, and it remained in operation for over 40 years until its closure in 2011. The proposal and designs for the former college works intelligently with the existing structure, retaining and enhancing those parts of the building that have an intrinsic value.

Eve McCurrich, development manager for developer Whiteburn Projects, said: “This is an incredible project to be involved in, and our proposals for the former college aim to offer an innovative and creative way to transform city living in Dundee that truly offers a dynamic space to work, rest and play.

“Our philosophy at Whiteburn is to create urban spaces that challenge the status quo, and we’re really excited to be proposing this new way of city living right in the heart of Dundee. Our public consultation event at the end of last year generated lots of positive interest and feedback, so we’re delighted to have now reached this particular milestone where we can now share our vision for the former college with Dundee City Council.”

Alan Seddon of Keppie Design added: “Vox Dundee shows us that change is possible, not just for an old and unloved building, but for cities in general, and our cities do need to change.

“Making a building that excites people about city living is easy. Making a building that tackles the boring details of daily life, and provides the space for people to live their lives well in the city, is tough. Vox Dundee does both and we’re very proud to be a part of it.”

Morrison events helps Highland youngsters build a career in construction

The Constructing Your Future bricklaying workshop

The Constructing Your Future bricklaying workshop

Young people from around the Highlands had a taste of a career in construction at an event called Constructing Your Future held at the Black Isle showground on May 7.

Organised by Morrison Construction, the event included workshops led by representatives from many of the professions and trades in the industry from architecture, quantity surveying and civil engineering to bricklaying, joinery and plumbing. Each of the 40-minute sessions gave those attending a hands-on opportunity to experience aspects of the various jobs.

For instance Jamie Bruce, an apprentice bricklayer, and Paul Skilling, a site manager who started as a bricklayer, both of whom work for Morrison, explained how they started their careers, the different aspects of their role, what their highlights have been and why they would recommend the industry to others. Then it was down to the delegates to have a go themselves building a block wall and applying a scratch coat and render.

In another workshop Morrison employees Grant Sloggie, Craig Irvine, Euan Rennie and Kim Mair spoke about their experiences of life as a civil engineer. The delegates then used construction drawings, a dumpy level device and tape measure in a road planning exercise.

Other participating companies were Keppie Design, CDMM, Barnie Group, William Grey Construction, the National Demolition Training Group, Robertson Construction, Wyvis Roofing and Fairhurst consulting engineers.

Gordon Williamson, project manager with Morrison Construction, said: “We held this event last year and it was a great success so we thought we should do a follow-up. The feedback we’ve had has again been very positive. Construction desperately needs newcomers in order to cope with increased demand in recent months and we hope that this event will inspire students to consider a career in the industry.”

He added: “We’re currently strengthening links with Inverness schools through a work experience programme. We’re advertising up to five vacancies and will be interviewing applicants as we would for full vacancies in order to give them first-hand experience of the job application process as well as the chance of a week’s placement at the end of next month.”

▪ The new Inverness College UHI campus built by Morrison Construction won a gold award and was runner-up in the national Most Considerate Site competition run as part of the Consideration Constructors Scheme.

Judges commented: “The on-site teaching area for various trades and specialists to demonstrate their skills to college students established this site’s commitment to training and education. This was supported by a comprehensive plan to encourage apprentices, work placements and graduates.”