Perth & Kinross

Balfour Beatty commences second phase of Perth Transport Futures Project

Balfour Beatty has been awarded a £1.4 million contract by Perth and Kinross Council to deliver ground investigation works for phase two of the Perth Transport Futures Project, the Cross Tay Link Road.

The contract has been awarded through the Scape National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework.

Works will include on-site sampling and testing to establish ground conditions and inform the ongoing design of the project, which on completion will support growth in Scotland’s third fastest developing region.

This is the second of four phases of the Perth Transport Futures Project which aims to alleviate congestion, enhance accessibility to the city and unlock significant economic growth for the local economy.

Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty’s regional managing director for Scotland & Ireland, said: “I am delighted that Balfour Beatty has been awarded this commission to commence ground investigation works on the Cross Tay Link Road for the Perth Transport Futures Scheme.

“Procured through the Scape National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework, we will continue to work in close collaboration with Perth and Kinross Council to help deliver this exciting scheme; engaging with local suppliers and subcontractors, to provide real sustainable benefit to the local economy.”

The ground investigation works for Phase 2 have already commenced on-site, and are expected to complete in Autumn this year.

Victoria Brambini, managing director of Scape Procure, said: “Balfour Beatty’s appointment to the second phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project is fantastic news. The team has worked closely with Perth and Kinross Council during the delivery of the first phase and this collaborative working is set to continue as the next important stage of the project begins.

“Improving transport links in Scotland is key to creating a stronger and more connected Britain, and ground investigation works is a vital part of this process. By procuring the works through our framework, communities and businesses in Perth and Kinross will also benefit throughout the construction phase as Balfour Beatty utilises the local supply chain and creates training and apprenticeship opportunities for local people.”

Perth Airport owners weigh positive options for future

Joyce Leslie at Perth Airport

A new study jointly commissioned by the Morris Leslie Group and Perth & Kinross Council’s investment arm Invest in Perth has set out a range of positive alternative futures for Perth Airport.

Consultants Ekos prepared the 40-page report in anticipation of the forthcoming £1.84 billion Tay Cities Deal and the projected £113 million Cross Tay Link Road. The proposed 6km Perth bypass will connect the A9 to the A94 close to the airport.

Due for completion in 2023 the new road and new Tay crossing will allow traffic to bypass Perth’s Bridgend district and transform connectivity north of the City, opening up new economic opportunities for the area.

Joyce Leslie, a director of the Morris Leslie Group, whose family company has been a significant local and national employer since 1974 said: “We are delighted to be working with Invest in Perth to secure a thriving future for the Airport at Scone.

“This new study considers all options for the future, including our preferred course of developing the site to meet new opportunities that arise.

“The Ekos report clarifies the increasingly high maintenance costs for which the airport will be liable, which means a new business model is needed if we are to avoid ‘managed decline’. That is not the future we envisage for Perth Airport.”

The airport’s owners have submitted comments to the local development plan asking that the airport’s restrictive ‘employment safeguarding’ zoning be removed to allow for a mix of uses to come forward to maximise its future economic benefit under Perthshire’s ambitious development programme. The company believes that the change would allow more flexibility in finding a sustainable future for the airport within the new economic landscape.

Perth Airport covers a 45-acre site outside Scone and currently supports 160 jobs. Its flight operations are managed by ACS, and it is home to the Scottish Aero Club, Alba Airsports, and Scotland’s only Charity Air Ambulance, which is capable of reaching 90% of Scotland’s population within 25 minutes in an emergency.

The adjacent buildings, many of which date back to the airport’s World War II origins, are currently in residential, hospitality and industrial uses, including business incubators, generating an annual £5.9m in gross value add to the local economy according to the new report.

Although airside operations are booming, with a 10% increase in use by aircraft over the last year, the long term commercial viability of the site is in question given the need for extensive investment to maintain its current operations. Morris Leslie has invested around £1.5m over the last five years, and the study estimates that £4.8m more is needed to sustain current on-site uses.

The Ekos study seeks to estimate future demand for airport-based activity and assess the current value of the Airport to the regional economy and to estimate how this might change over the short, medium, and long term. These options are measured against a control scenario of ‘managed decline’ in the case of no change being permitted.

The assessment has been driven by both strategic and operational challenges and opportunities across the region.

Plans approved for for 650-home expansion of Perthshire village

Homes previously delivered by A&J Stephen

Housing plans which will more than double the size of a Perthshire village have won support from councillors.

Local developers A&J Stephen and I&H Brown want to build up to 650 houses on the southern edge of Luncarty. The firms said the project will create jobs, deliver wider benefits to the local economy and address a need for affordable housing.

It is estimated the scheme, across 100 acres of farmland, would increase the population size from 1,600 to nearly 4,000.

Councillors on Perth and Kinross Council’s planning and development management committee followed the advice from the authority’s planning officers to approve the masterplan.

In her report, interim quality manager Anne Condliffe said: “The expansion of Luncarty is a longstanding proposal.

“The site is well placed to deliver a sustainable community, serving as a well-connected satellite settlement to Perth.”

She said: “The proposal will provide a significant contribution toward meeting the projected population growth of Perth and Kinross. It will also help assist funding of significant community infrastructure improvements that will benefit Luncarty and the wider area.”

John Stephen, managing director of A&J Stephen, stressed that the proposal complied with the Tayplan and the Local Development Plan. He proposed building at a rate of around 25 homes a year.

Plumber fined £3000 for causing gas explosion at Perthshire bungalow

A plumber has been fined £3000 for causing a gas explosion which blew up a pensioners’ bungalow and trapped its occupants beneath the rubble.

Craig Hall left a gas pipe liable to come loose in Robin and Marion Cunningham’s home in Callander, Perthshire, by crucially failing to solder a vital 90 degree joint where it attached to the new equipment.

For eight months the dodgy fitting was held together by just a little paste used to prepare the joint for connection.

But eventually it separated, pouring gas at up to nine cubic metres an hour into the couple’s utility room.

Around 5.45 am on March 28, 2013, the flammable atmosphere ignited, possibly sparked by a light switch, or the compressor on a fridge freezer, “totally demolishing” the property.

Mr Cunningham was taken by air ambulance to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with burns to his head, face and hands, and spent a week in hospital.

Mrs Cunningham, then 74, had less serious injuries, but Stirling Sheriff Court was told she has been left “frail and very anxious” by what happened, while Mr Cunningham’s Parkinson’s Disease had “obviously progressed”.

Hall, of Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, was told to pay the £3000 fine at a rate of £150 per month at Stirling Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

He had denied causing the blast by carrying out the installation of the boiler dangerously, but he was found guilty by Sheriff William Gilchrist.

Passing sentence, he said he was satisfied Hall hadn’t meant to cause the explosion but found that he had failed to take reasonable care.

The court was told Hall remains employed but has had to undergo further training.

159-home Perthshire development called-in by ministers

The Scottish Government will decide the fate of proposals for 159 new homes on the outskirts of Perth following concerns over the development’s transport links.

Councillors were poised to approve the Oudenarde development last week at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council’s planning and development committee.

However, the Scottish Government seized control of the application at the eleventh hour following concerns that had been raised by Transport Scotland regarding how the proposed development would impact the nearby M90 Perth to Inverkeithing motorway.

Set on the site of the old Bridge of Earn hospital, the homes represent the next stage of an ambitious bid for a 1,500-home village. Hillcrest Housing Association has already built 109 affordable houses at Oudenarde.

The project is being spearhead by local construction firm GS Brown and was first announced more than 20 years ago. The Perthshire developer teamed up with Taylor Wimpey to submit an initial planning application for 159 two, three and four bedroom homes in Janauary last year.

Transport Scotland had raised concerns that the plan was about to be passed without paperwork in place to demonstrate how the new settlement will link safely to the M90.

The latest proposals went before councillors in October, but were due to return to the planning and development management committee for final approval.

Councillors were to be asked to withdraw a planning condition requested by Transport Scotland, calling for GS Brown to submit details of improvements for the M90/A912 junctions.

However, according to The Courier, Perth and Kinross Council’s legal team ruled this wasn’t a valid condition.

GS Brown chairman Geoff Brown said he received word about the Scottish Government’s intentions in an e-mail at 8.30am on Wednesday – less than two hours before the planning meeting.

“We’re really unhappy that this has happened so late in the day,” he said.

“We have – or had – a contractor in place to be on site by March. Obviously, what’s happened may have jeopardised this agreement and we will need to go back to the contractor and work something out.”

Mr Brown, who is also chairman of St Johnstone Football Club, added: “We have to make sure that this delay won’t impact on jobs.

“In my career, I’ve never known anything like this to happen before.”

Before last week’s meeting, a Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We have been in discussion with Perth and Kinross Council and developers for over 10 years in respect of developments at Oudenarde, and would be concerned about the potential removal of the previously agreed planning condition.

“We have sought to promote development in accordance with the published Masterplan, whilst meeting the clear need to maintain the safety and efficiency of the road network, and this remains our position.”

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “The application for Oudenarde in Bridge of Earn has been called in by ministers due to the proposal’s potential impact on trunk road infrastructure and road safety.

“This application will be considered and a decision will be issued by ministers in due course.”

Perth commissions feasibility study into St Catherine’s Square flats revamp

An ageing housing block on the edge of Perth city centre is to be regenerated to complement plans for a nearby £30 million cinema and shopping complex.

The Courier has reported that Perth and Kinross Council is planning an overhaul of St Catherine’s Square to ensure it fits in with the Mill Quarter development earmarked for neighbouring land. The authority also hopes to address concerns about a high number of empty, hard-to-fill properties.

The Mill Quarter project, which is scheduled to open next year, will feature a state-of-the-art multi-screen cinema, a mix of bars, restaurants and shops, as well as 58 new homes.

The development is being progressed by Expresso Property and will be built on the nearby Thimble Row car park.

The local authority is spending £7,650 on a feasibility study to support the “proposed regeneration and environmental improvement works” to all flats at St Catherine’s.

Glasgow-based ECD Architects have been tasked with carrying out the study and will report back to officers later this year.

Plans for the Mill Quarter project in Perth

Perth City Centre councillor Peter Barrett, who heads the authority’s housing committee, said: “The council is looking for proposals for the regeneration of St Catherine’s Square.

“Despite having a great High St location there is a high number of vacancies and the square is becoming harder to let. I believe there is real potential for regeneration and transformation here.”

The Lib Dem councillor added: “With Espresso Property’s multiplex-cinema, retail and restaurant development at Thimble Row, right opposite the flats and the improvements starting to take hold at St Paul’s, the time is right to consider how best to invest in the properties to further energise and re-animate this part of the city centre.

“I am looking forward to seeing the proposals in due course.”

St Catherine’s Square recently hit the headlines when Royal Mail said it would no longer deliver mail to all properties in the square following an assault on a female postal worker two years ago.

In recent years, some of the 54 flats have been used as emergency accommodation for the city’s homeless population.

Judge finds plumber guilty of causing gas explosion at Perthshire bungalow

A plumber has been found guilty of causing a gas explosion which blew up a pensioners’ bungalow and trapped its occupants beneath the rubble.

Craig Hall left a gas pipe liable to come loose in Robin and Marion Cunningham’s home in Callander, Perthshire, by crucially failing to solder a vital 90 degree joint where it attached to the new equipment.

For eight months the dodgy fitting was held together by just a little paste used to prepare the joint for connection.

But eventually it separated, pouring gas at up to nine cubic metres an hour into the couple’s utility room.

Around 5.45 am on March 28, 2013, the flammable atmosphere ignited, possibly sparked by a light switch, or the compressor on a fridge freezer, “totally demolishing” the property.

Mr Cunningham was taken by air ambulance to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with burns to his head, face and hands, and spent a week in hospital.

Mrs Cunningham, then 74, had less serious injuries, but Stirling Sheriff Court was told she has been left “frail and very anxious” by what happened, while Mr Cunningham’s Parkinson’s Disease had “obviously progressed”.

After a five-day-trial, Sheriff William Gilchrist took less than 40 minutes to find Hall, of Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, guilty of installing the combination boiler “otherwise than in accordance with appropriate standards and in such a way as to prevent danger”.

He said: “I’m satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the failure to ensure that the gas supply pipe was adequately joined to the gas inlet pipe had the consequence of allowing gas to escape, thereby causing the explosion.”

Hall in evidence, insisted that he had applied heat with his blow-lamp to solder the so-called “Yorkshire fitting” between the inlet pipe and the boiler, but accepted that the solder had not “run” and the joint had not been properly made.

Sheriff Gilchrist said heat could only have been applied “very fleetingly”, because not only had the solder in the joint not run, but even some of the flux paste, applied as part of the process, had not melted.

The court heard that it was this sticky paste that held the joint together and allowed it to pass a “gas tightness” test that Hall carried out before firing up the system.

Sheriff Gilchrist, who deferred sentence until February 7 for background reports, said he was not considering jail, but Hall could face a fine or a community-based sentence.

Deputy First Minister marks start of work on new Bertha Park school

Bertha 7Deputy First Minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills, John Swinney MSP, performed a turf cutting ceremony yesterday to mark the official start of works to build a new secondary school at Bertha Park in Perth.

Due to open in August 2019, Bertha Park High School will be the first additional secondary school to be built in Perth and Kinross since 1972. Perth and Kinross is one of the fastest growing areas of Scotland and as a result Perth Secondary schools will be near to capacity by 2021. A review of the school estate identified a new Perth secondary school as a priority.

Mr Swinney said: “Bertha Park marks the 100th school in our £1.8bn Schools for the Future programme and I am very pleased to get work underway on this milestone project.

“We are providing £19.6m towards the school as part of our aim to ensure our children and young people have access to inspiring environments which enable all of them to engage with their learning.

“We have made fantastic progress and have wonderful, award winning schools across all parts of Scotland which stand as testament to that.

“Bertha Park will be a very welcome addition to the school estate and I look forward to seeing the project once it is complete.”

BerthaParkImage-e1486731065880-1-672x372Designed by NORR architects and being delivered by Robertson Group, the project forms part of Perth & Kinross Council’s ongoing capital programme of school upgrades and improvements through hub East Central Scotland to enhance the environment for learning and teaching across the area.

Gary Bushnell, chief executive of hub East Central Scotland, said: “It is great to see the project progressing well and we look forward to delivering a high quality building for the community next year. We work closely with Perth & Kinross Council to support their education and learning strategy and this is now our sixth major school project in the region.”

Councillor Caroline Shiers, convener of the lifelong learning committee, added: “Bertha Park Secondary School is the hundredth new school to be built under the Scottish Government’s £1.8 billion Schools for the Future Programme and this project will be a unique opportunity to build a new school community from the ground up.

“We look forward to welcoming our first cohorts into the innovative learning environment that will be Bertha Park High School. The council will work with the parents and carers of the young people who will become pupils at the new school and continue to communicate with them throughout this process to ensure any questions are fully addressed.”

Engineering firm secures £5m deal to light up Perth city centre

David Taylor

David Taylor

Engineering services group IKM Consulting has secured a contract to help deliver a £5 million public sector project to transform Perth city centre.

The company, which is headquartered in Grangemouth, will deliver the electrical infrastructure design element of the Perth City of Light Action Plan.

The plan has been launched by Perth and Kinross Council to develop the city’s cultural and night time economy through the functional and decorative lighting of key public spaces and landmarks.

The team at IKM Consulting – who are celebrating the business’ 20th anniversary year – expect to start on the first project in Norie-Miller Park, in the centre of the city, in March 2018.

Lancashire-based specialists in dynamic and architectural lighting supply and installation LITE Ltd, partnering with IKM Consulting, will be responsible for the supply and installation of the feature lighting.

David Taylor, managing director of IKM Consulting, said: “IKM is thrilled to be a part of the Perth City of Light Action Plan and we are pleased to be partnering with LITE Ltd for this significant project.

“We hope that the lighting schemes can be something the people of Perth are proud of.

“This is a growing sector for IKM and we look forward to collaborating with LITE Ltd and Perth and Kinross Council to deliver value added lighting solutions.”

IKM Consulting’s Building Services team has a strong history of delivering complex engineering solutions.

The new win serves to further strengthen the company’s reputation as a solid mechanical and electrical designer, whilst increasing their design and project management pipeline and laying a good foundation for further long term public sector framework appointments.

The six year Perth City of Light Action Plan was announced in 2016 and will see buildings and public spaces transformed with colourful lighting.

IKM Consulting’s Building Services team has delivered projects in industrial, commercial and oil and gas facilities throughout the UK, including works to the value of £7m at BP’s RLPG field operation building in Grangemouth, a £1.5m contract for Aspen Healthcare’s new endoscopy unit in Edinburgh and £2m contract at Forth Port’s new Grangemouth warehouse.

Perth City Hall and Perth Museum and Art Gallery designers selected

Perth City Hall Mecanoo 3

Mecanoo’s plans for Perth City Hall

The designers for the revamped Perth City Hall and Perth Museum and Art Gallery have been unveiled following a competitive process.

Metaphor has been appointed as the “interpretation and exhibition designers” for the city centre venues and will work with Mecanoo and Hoskins Architects, the architects of the respective projects, to develop new interiors and exhibition spaces in both buildings and bring the stories of Perth’s Ancient Roots and its Modern Scots to life.

London-based design practice Metaphor has a track record of major cultural projects in the UK and beyond which include Shakespeare’s Globe, the Ashmolean Museum, major galleries in the V&A London and in the National Museums and Galleries of Scotland. It is currently developing the exhibitions for the proposed St Kilda visitor centre to be located on Lewis.

Councillor Ian Campbell, leader of Perth & Kinross Council, said: “The council’s plans to make culture accessible to everyone have taken another step forward with the appointment of Metaphor. Interpreting and explaining art and artefacts is a key part of a successful cultural venue and will ensure the Museum and City Hall are the top-class attractions that Perth and Kinross deserves.”

Helen Smout, chief executive of Culture Perth and Kinross, added: “The museum collections of Perth and Kinross are of National Significance and we will be bringing the stories they tell to life at City Hall and Perth Museum – for local people and visitors from across the UK and the world.”

Dutch practice Mecanoo was appointed to transform Perth City Hall into a £20 million major arts hub in August.

BAM Construction will work with hub East Central Scotland to redevelop the Edwarian building, with construction expected to start work in 2019 and the grand opening scheduled for 2021.

The contractor will also lead the £10m Hoskins Architects-designed revamp of Perth Museum and Art Gallery with Ogilvie Construction tasked with building the new collection store on a separate site.