Councillors unveil £53.9m investment in Renfrewshire housing

Previous work to install external wall insulation in Gallowhill

Nearly £54 million is to be invested in housing across Renfrewshire over the next three years under the local authority’s new budget plans.

New build homes, regeneration and maintenance of existing council homes will form the key focus of Renfrewshire Council’s Housing Capital Investment Plan 2018/19 to 2020/21.

The significant outlay will see £15.44m in 2018/19, £18.75m in 2019/20 and £19.716m in 2020/21 invested in a range of programmes to improve the level of housing in Renfrewshire and advance the council’s commitment to provide 1000 new, affordable homes by 2021.

Planned investment programmes include improvements to the external fabric of council houses, roof renewals, upgraded kitchens and bathrooms, improved electrical wiring and heating systems, and improvements to multi storey flats and sheltered housing.

The plan also includes provision for new build investment in affordable social housing in Renfrewshire at sites in Dargavel Village and Johnstone Castle, as well as new build homes on sites including Ferguslie, Foxbar, Gallowhill, Millarston and a further site at Dargavel Village.

Councillor Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s communities, housing and planning policy board, said: “We are committed to providing high-quality, affordable homes that will encourage people to come and live and work in Renfrewshire.

“This significant investment will ensure we can provide our communities with homes that are the right type, the right size and in the right place to meet their needs and improve their quality of life.

“We are on track to achieve our aim of providing 1000 new, affordable homes by 2021 and this, coupled with the improvements made to existing stock, will ensure a positive future for Renfrewshire and its residents.”

It was also announced that rent will be increased by 1% after consultation with more than 600 council tenants saw 99% indicate any increase should be kept as low as possible.

48% of respondents felt that rents should increase slightly below the rate of inflation, with 45% indicating it should rise in line and 6% feeling the rise should be slightly above.

Tenants also advised that their three most important issues are affordability, improvement to existing stock and building new council houses, and this small increase will ensure these needs continue to be met under increasing cost pressures

Councillor McGurk added: “We recognise the pressure on many households and its important we continue to maintain affordability for our tenants while also covering the rising costs related to maintaining our council housing stock. This below inflation increase will contribute towards our maintenance programme for existing housing.

“We’re committed to mitigating the impact of the slower than expected pace of UK welfare reform changes and as such have incorporated a transitional premium cap of £1.50 per week for any rent which has to be increased to ensure the change is manageable for our tenants.

“Having listened to our residents, we have aligned our priorities for the next three years accordingly to ensure we are meeting their needs and we will work hard to provide high-quality housing for those who wish to rent or buy a home in Renfrewshire.”

Esh Construction to deliver £3.6m Johnstone school revamp

Gerard McMahon

Esh Construction has won a tender to deliver key refurbishment work that will significantly revitalise St Anthony’s Primary School in Johnstone.

The company has been appointed by Renfrewshire Council to carry out the £3.6 million extension project after its tender was approved by the local authority’s finance, resources and customer services policy Board.

The council had identified the Hallhill Road school as “requiring a major refurbishment to upgrade its infrastructure” before noting that Esh Construction had submitted “the most economically advantageous tender”.

Livingston-based Esh is now scheduled to commence work this spring and is targeting a 64-week duration to the project, with completion earmarked for May 2019.

Works will include the building of an extension onto the school’s existing north façade, providing a larger entrance for its 193 pupils, while the exterior will benefit from a new flat roof finish.

The internal refurbishment works will meanwhile include new ceilings, floor finishes, acoustic insulation and decoration throughout the building.

All the classrooms will see teaching walls introduced that will incorporate interactive white boards, while offices and meeting rooms will be reconfigured with features including new staff toilets, storage, and an I.T. server hub room.

Classrooms will be further enhanced by the introduction of new canopies with roller shutters which will lead out to paving areas, helping to promote outdoor learning.

Esh will also add new central heating pipework and radiators to ensure better energy efficiency, with heightened access realised throughout.

As part of its project delivery, Esh has committed to realising significant community benefits, including work experience placements, further education visits, a careers event, and financial support for a local project.

Esh Construction’s regional director for Scotland, Gerard McMahon, said: “We are proud to have won this exciting refurbishment project at St Anthony’s Primary after emerging as the best tender from a strong pool of candidates.

“Renfrewshire Council recognised the significant depth of experience and great value that we could offer, and we now look forward to delivering the best possible learning environments for pupils that will allow them to achieve their potential.

“As an Added Value developer that always seeks to give back to the communities in which we operate, we also welcome the great opportunities that this project affords to realise wider benefits in the area.

“It’s pleasing that we’re able to adopt such a thoroughly collaborative approach that will allow us to engage with pupils, staff and the community to ensure a very joined-up approach.

“As an industry, it’s essential that we reach young people if we are to keep growing and reaching for higher standards – and projects like St Anthony’s represent a fantastic way to do that.”

Esh is building on its strong reputation for expertise in the education sector and believes that educational buildings should be a focal point for communities, providing a safe, stimulating and sustainable environment for all.

The company was recently awarded the contract to completely transform Heriot-Watt University’s Cameron Smail Library into a modern and welcoming learning environment for the Edinburgh institution’s students, lecturers and support staff.

Esh – which delivers live sites, refurbishment, and new build projects within a number of sectors – is stripping back the existing building, before constructing a new layout with replacement fixtures, fittings and decoration.

The company also recently delivered two further Edinburgh projects – a new build classroom block at Liberton Primary School in the city’s south-east, and refurbishment of an existing primary school to create additional classroom space at Corstorphine Primary School in the west end.

Heron Bros celebrates early completion of Renfrewshire primary schools

A shared site for two new build Renfrewshire schools is set to be completed and handed over almost two months ahead of schedule.

The new state of the art two storey building which will house the adjacent St John Bosco and Bargarran Primary Schools in Erskine, will be ready for occupation from April 16.

This early delivery of the new facilities from main contractors Heron Bros to Renfrewshire Council means the opportunity to move the schools and St John Bosco’s early learning and childcare class, immediately after the spring break.

All the establishments are expected to be closed over that three day period to minimise disruption.

Permission for the period of “exceptional closure” to facilitate the move from the old buildings to the new building has been sought from the schools directorate at the Scottish Government, with confirmation expected imminently.

The early move also means that the demolition of the existing buildings can take place more quickly, meaning that construction would be complete by October this year, as opposed to December.

The £16 million work, which started in January 2017, is part of Renfrewshire Council’s extensive £52m investment programme to improve local schools and promote learning and achievement by giving children the best possible learning environment.

The new building has mirrored wings for the two schools over two levels with flexible spaces which support independent learning.

On the ground floor, all classrooms lead out into a courtyard with canopied areas for outside learning, while upstairs classes have access to a balcony area. Toilets and cloakroom facilities link to the outside and the shared dining hall will double up as an ‘after school’ area.

The new facility includes an all-weather sports pitch as well as a feature ‘green roof’ where seeds from native species will be planted and video links to classrooms will allow pupils to view wildlife in real time.

Education and children’s services convener, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: “It’s great news that the building is ready ahead of schedule and we have already informed parents.

“The new shared building provides the best possible learning environment for pupils and children and allows them to reach their full potential.

“The three day closure period will allow staff to set up before the return of children and pupils.”

Damian Heron, group managing director at Heron Bros, said: “Heron Bros is delighted to hand over the shared campus for St John Bosco and Bargarran Primary School two months early. Our project management team developed an innovative solution which enabled the fast-tracking of the programme and we are delighted to have been able to complete the project ahead of schedule.

“We would like to thank the entire project team and our local supply chain who all worked in collaboration to deliver this marvellous facility so efficiently, and wish the staff and pupils success and happiness in their new home.”

State-of-the-art school campus in Paisley scheduled for August opening

Morrison Construction senior site manager Scott Clements, Renfrewshire Council depute leader and education and children’s services convener Councillor Jim Paterson, depute education and children’s services convener and Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron and St Paul’s head teacher Louise Maher

An £8.5 million state-of-the-art school campus in Paisley is on track to open for the start of the school term in August, contractor Morrison Construction has confirmed.

St Paul’s Primary School in Paisley will house 212 pupils, while an integrated communication unit has space for a further 24 at the shared campus, which also includes Foxlea Early Learning and Childcare Centre. It has capacity for 80 pre five children while an adult learning and literacy centre can house up to 10 students.

Renfrewshire Council’s education and children’s services convener, Jim Paterson, and depute convener and provost Lorraine Cameron, visited the construction site to see progress of the new build campus for themselves.

The new school site features outdoor leaning spaces including a canopied area designed for use by smaller groups of pupils to carry out a range of activities, including science experiments.

All formal learning spaces link directly to covered outdoor spaces which, in turn connect to outdoor play areas.

There is an all-weather sports surface and a forest area where children can create ‘mud kitchens’.

A bike and scooter rack will encourage children to ride to school.

Councillor Paterson said: “We are determined to give our children and young people the best learning environments possible to help them achieve their full potential and this campus is a great example of that.

“Outdoor learning is central to the curriculum and access to external spaces means that pupils can engage with the world around them.

“The school is truly one for the 21st century, with all of the class rooms designed to support modern teaching aids and internet ready.

“The campus is on track to be fully operational this August and is on budget.”

Head teacher of St Paul’s, Louise Maher, said: “It’s been exciting for pupils and staff alike to watch the new campus being built from the ground up and we can’t wait to move across.”

The playground will have graphics and games painted into the ground surface and as well as a gym, a centrally located studio provides space for dance and movement classes.

The building will be on one level and have access to the pitch from the gym.

Eddie Robertson, Morrison Construction managing director for Central Scotland, said: “We were delighted to welcome members of Renfrewshire Council onto site and show them the great progress we have made to date on this fantastic new building.

‘‘The project is moving forward on schedule with the internal fit out well underway.

‘‘We continue to work with all stakeholders to deliver a first-class facility for the pupils, teachers and community members.”

Portakabin to deliver new education campus in Renfrewshire

Members from Crossreach and Portakabin join teachers and local schoolchildren to break the ground on the new project

The social care arm of the Church of Scotland has announced ambitious plans to open a “first class” education campus in Renfrewshire.

CrossReach said the new development in Erskine will provide a high standard of education for around 30 looked after children, aged 8-16-years-old.

The campus is being delivered by Portakabin Scotland and comprises of modular buildings, which will be built off-site and craned into position in April.

CrossReach chief executive, Viv Dickenson, broke the ground at the site at Erskine Waterfront this week to formally start the building work.

Mrs Dickenson said: “This is an exciting day for Crossreach as work commences on our new education campus at Erskine Waterfront.

“Our existing staff team and their pupils are looking forward to moving into bright, modern classrooms containing all the facilities they need to make it a first class learning environment.

“We have been delighted with the welcome already extended by the local community and look forward to building on the good relationships already in place as we develop the outdoor areas and explore ways of working together.”

Gregor Hood, regional hire manager for Portakabin, with CrossReach chief executive, Viv Dickenson

CrossReach is leasing the ground, opposite the Pandamonium Play Centre on Kilpatrick Drive, from Renfrewshire Council. It is expected to take possession of the campus at the end of May.

The existing education team and pupils will move from their current base in Ballikinrain to the Erskine site in August for the start of the new school year.

CrossReach hopes to work with local community groups to develop the green space around the Erskine site for the benefit of all.

The ground breaking event was attended by pupils, teachers, CrossReach staff and representatives from Portakabin Scotland.

Gregor Hood, regional hire manager for Portakabin Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Crossreach to provide a modular solution at Erskine.

“Portakabin has been building nurseries, schools and colleges across Scotland for 30 years.

“The building will provide a supportive and safe environment for up to 30 children and young adults within the local community.

“Constructed entirely off-site, the modules will be delivered and craned into position in April of this year.

“This is a process which will take a matter of days, reducing much of the disruption which would normally come with a traditionally constructed build.”

Contractor appointed to Renfrewshire retail park

The owners of the former Paton’s Mill site in Johnstone have announced the appointment of Bell Building Projects Limited as the main contractor to develop a retail park on the site.

4th Developments, owners of the former shoelace mill site, confirm that Phase 1 of the development masterplan works are now underway.

The £3.5 million development scheme, to build a supermarket, non-food retail unit and a drive thru is progressing as planned and is scheduled for completion this coming summer.

Announcing the appointment of the contractor, Claire Donaldson of 4th Consulting, project and asset managers for the development, said: “The redevelopment of the Paton’s Mill site offers an exciting new gateway for Johnstone’s high street. As such it will offer a prime location for shoppers and we are delighted with the progress we are making to transform this site into a thriving destination.

“We’re pleased to announce Bell Building Projects Limited as the main contractors. As a local, experienced team, they offer an extremely high quality of service and a strong track record in retail park construction.

“The contractor has been on site since mid-December and is working towards completion of Phase 1 of the development masterplan in Summer 2018.”

Based in Glasgow, Bell Building Projects Limited support local job creation and apprenticeships and has been behind developments including the Jaguar/Volvo car showrooms at Junctions 26 Hillington/Braehead and the A&D logistics facility at Phoenix Retail Park.

Martin Bell, managing director of Bell Building Projects Limited, added: “Bell Building Projects is delighted to be involved in the revitalisation of this historic site. The company has been involved from an early stage with 4th Developments and the design team to deliver a striking retail development which will be a superb addition to the local area.

“We have a strong history in retail construction both in the high street and out of town developments and look forward to adding Paton’s Mill Retail Park to our successfully completed projects.”

Designer Stallan-Brand said its influence for the retail units flows from some of the buildings occupying the former site.

A further announcement is expected in a few weeks, regarding the tenants of Paton’s Mill Retail Park.

Ambassador Homes to develop two new sites after securing £4.6m funding from Maven Property

Properties previously delivered by Ambassador Homes

Private equity and property manager Maven Property has raised £4.6 million to fund the development of two residential property sites in Renfrew and Clackmannan in conjunction with Ambassador Homes.

The sites have planning consent for the development of 94 private houses and 35 affordable homes, and groundworks are underway at both locations.

Both sites are in prime commuter locations with significant new-build housing demand and the developments have a forecast total sales value of £20.6m. Maven has raised the capital via a £1.6m equity fundraise from its UK-wide ‘Investor Partners’ co-investor network, and a bank development loan of £3m.

The Clackmannan development, situated in a commuter town to the east of Stirling, comprises 77 family homes. The private homes are expected to be sold for between £145,000 and £240,000 and will be released for sale in early January 2018. The development will also include 35 affordable housing units, built under contract with Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association (a member of the Places For People group). The first housing completions are anticipated in July 2018.

The Maitland Gardens development of 52 private homes is located in the Moorpark region of Renfrew. The development has recently been released for sale and the first housing completions are anticipated in March 2018 with purchase prices ranging between £160,000 and £170,000. 

Colin Anderson, investment director at Maven, said: “We are delighted to be working with Ambassador Homes on these high quality residential development projects and are pleased to be able to play a small part in helping to address Scotland’s well documented housing shortage. This is an exciting time to invest in the residential sector as house price growth has been and is expected to remain strong in the right locations and we are delighted to offer our Investor Partner network the opportunity to participate.”

Gordon Coster, managing director at Ambassador Homes, added: “Having worked on the pre-development phases of these sites for over two years now, we are thrilled to have partnered with Maven to secure the funding to progress the developments at Clackmannan and Maitland Gardens. We are encouraged by the initial levels of interest in the properties and are confident that their optimum positioning in key commuter locations will result in a very strong uptake.”

Avant Homes secures planning permission for £35.2m Bishopton site

David Knight, Avant Homes Scotland managing director

Stirling-based homebuilder Avant Homes has been granted planning permission to build 121 new homes for a £35.2 million development in Dargavel Village in Bishopton, Renfrewshire.

Avant Homes acquired an 11.5-acre site, which is located off Slateford Road at the location of the former Royal Ordnance Factory and sits 12 miles west of Glasgow. Dargavel Village is part of a major transformational project in Bishopton led by BAE Systems.

The properties to be built by Avant Homes will be a mixture of innovatively designed homes including three-bedroom semi-detached and detached and four and five-bedroom detached houses, all complete with the developer’s new interior specification.

Construction is due to start on the development immediately, with the first homes ready for occupation in 2018.

Avant Homes Scotland managing director, David Knight, said: “We are committed to continued investment in Scotland and the central belt is a key focus for us. The last 12 months have seen high demand for our product here and our Dargavel Village development in Bishopton demonstrates our dedication to providing much-needed homes in the area. The site is important historically and we’re looking forward to giving it a rich future for homebuyers.”

The history of the site dates back to the 16th century, when the Grade B listed Dargavel House was built by the Maxwell family. From World War One, the site was home to a munitions factory run by the Ministry of Defence and then BAE Systems, until manufacturing ceased in 2001.

Jon Gettinby, Bishopton programme manager for BAE Systems, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Avant Homes to Dargavel Village. Working closely with all of our development partners, such as Avant Homes, is key to achieving our vision for Dargavel Village to be an aspirational place to live.”

Avant Homes Scotland is an operating company of the Avant Homes group. The homebuilder currently has 12 developments in its portfolio stretching from Pitdinnie Grange in Cairneyhill to The Dukes in Ferniegair.

For the financial year to 30 April 2017, Avant Homes posted both record revenue and operating profit numbers. Revenues increased 45% year-on-year to £369m, whilst operating profits rose 107% to £45m. These were delivered having achieved 1,636 total completions, up 35% compared with the prior year.

Councillors approve Paisley’s West End regeneration plans

Gillian Lavety, head of development for Sanctuary Scotland, and Renfrewshire Council leader, Iain Nicolson, at the masterplan site

Gillian Lavety, head of development for Sanctuary Scotland, and Renfrewshire Council leader, Iain Nicolson, at the masterplan site

Plans to transform Paisley’s West End into an attractive neighbourhood with 150 new homes and strengthened links to the town centre have been given the green light.

Councillors on Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board yesterday approved the final West End regeneration masterplan which sets out the steps to develop the new private and social homes.

The masterplan has been developed by the council and its housing association partner Sanctuary Scotland.

More than 80% of residents in the area have backed the moves to address the high levels of vacant properties in an area once home to thousands of mill workers supporting the town’s weaving industry.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We are committed to regenerating Renfrewshire and investing in providing high quality affordable homes which our communities deserve. I am pleased that these plans for the west end of Paisley have been welcomed by the people living there and have received cross-party approval.

“It is an area steeped in history and heritage and these proposals will celebrate this by strengthening the links to Oakshaw Conservation area and Paisley town centre. Working closely with our colleagues at Sanctuary Scotland and through on-going dialogue with residents and businesses in the area, I look forward to seeing the development of a new neighbourhood which is desirable and distinctive, attractive and safe.”

Sanctuary Scotland will now develop plans for a phased delivery of the masterplan which involves clearance of vacant land and demolition of existing low demand tenement flats and commercial ground floor premises on the east side of Well Street, Clavering Street East and Underwood Lane.

All council tenants will be offered suitable alternative accommodation and Sanctuary Scotland will provide private resident owners with a range of options. While businesses in the masterplan area will be supported to relocate, the plans include the potential for limited new retail provision.

The west end is undergoing a complete transformation as Sanctuary Scotland is also developing new housing for social rent at the former Co-Op site on nearby Wellmeadow Street.

Gillian Lavety, head of development for Sanctuary Scotland, said: “We are very excited to be working with Renfrewshire Council on this project and are looking forward to getting started now that the masterplan has been approved.

“The development will create much-needed affordable housing for local people in Paisley and also provide a boost to the town by creating a number of local jobs and training opportunities on site.”

Location announced for £65m manufacturing centre of excellence

Welding Iron Worker Industry Steel Welder manufacturing stockRenfrewshire will be home to the new £65 million National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) with the University of Strathclyde named as the anchor university, it was revealed today.

Work to build the centre, which will help manufacturing businesses throughout Scotland become world leaders in innovation, will begin next year.  The centre at Inchinnan will be located right next to Glasgow International Airport and the M8.

The Scottish Government will invest £48m in NMIS with £8m from the University of Strathclyde. This is in addition to the £8.9m announced in June 2017 for the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre as a first step towards the wider centreRenfrewshire Council will provide a further £39.1m through the Glasgow City Region Deal to support wider infrastructure work at the site.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and economy secretary Keith Brown made the announcement during a visit to Rolls-Royce’s manufacturing facility in Inchinnan. Rolls-Royce is a founding member of the University of Strathclyde’s existing Advanced Forming Research Centre.

Speaking after a meeting with some of Scotland’s leading manufacturing companies, the First Minister said: “This exciting facility will be an industry-led international centre of manufacturing expertise. Research, industry and the public sector will work together to transform skills, productivity and innovation, attracting investment and making Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

“It will help companies right across Scotland embrace new manufacturing techniques, support cutting edge research and help to further develop the skills of our workforce. The manufacturing jobs of the future offer exciting and rewarding careers for young people. We want to inspire them to work in this sector and revive Scotland’s proud tradition of manufacturing and engineering.

“Inchinnan provides a gateway to the world through proximity to the airport and revives Scotland’s proud tradition of manufacturing and engineering.

“Although the centre will sit on the Clydeside, the benefits will be felt throughout Scotland.”

Unlocking economic potential in manufacturing and innovation is expected to play a key role in this week’s Scottish Budget, alongside digital connectivity, infrastructure and housing.

Economy secretary Keith Brown added: “Manufacturing is a key industry, already accounting for 52% of Scotland’s international exports, and nearly £600m of Scotland’s spend on business research and development.

“Our investment in NMIS builds on our support for the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre and will support that and our ambitious target of doubling business expenditure on research and development by 2025. This centre will not only see us continue to reach out worldwide, but also see the rest of the world turning to Scotland for innovation and expertise.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a new chapter for Scottish manufacturing, building on a great tradition of innovation. By capitalising on world-class, industry-relevant research and supporting skills-development, the new institute will attract inward investment to Scotland, stimulate the creation of jobs and help companies compete globally.

“The University of Strathclyde prides itself on forging new levels of collaboration between researchers and the public and private sectors to accelerate the pace of research and development, and crucially, to deliver benefit to businesses and the economy. We are delighted to be the anchor university for the Institute and will ensure close engagement with the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering representing a consortium of Scotland’s leading research intensive universities. We also look forward to working closely with new and existing partners to deliver a step-change in advanced manufacturing for Scotland.”

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “Renfrewshire has long been renowned for its manufacturing expertise and innovation, not least in giving Paisley Pattern to the world, and I am excited about the prospect of helping to play our part in making Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

“I believe through our existing manufacturing expertise combined with excellent transport connections by air, land and sea – which will be further enhanced by our Glasgow City Region City Deal projects – Renfrewshire offers the perfect environment for the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland to flourish and we look forward to working with colleagues to deliver its ambitious aims.”

Managing director at Scottish Enterprise, Linda Hanna, said: “Supporting growth in Scotland’s manufacturing sector is a key priority for us and central to the future of Scotland’s economy. Today’s announcement marks a great milestone in the journey towards creating expertise and capability in a new hub to help drive increased innovation and investment. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely with partners to deliver this ambitious project and grow Scotland’s reputation as a global hub for high value manufacturing.”