Robertson Group

Edinburgh students build futures in construction industry

(from left) Jamie Savage, site manager for Robertson; Jordan Walls; Jay Anderson and Linzie Robb, community development coordinator for Robertson at West Pilton

Robertson has welcomed several Edinburgh-based secondary pupils interested in the built environment industry on site for extended work placements.

Eight senior pupils have enjoyed placements as part of Edinburgh City Council’s Job, Education and Training (JET) programme, providing them the opportunity to develop employability skills through a mix of vocational training and real-life work experience.

The budding constructors were placed at several Robertson sites across the city, gaining experience of different trades to broaden their knowledge of construction careers.

Gemma Gourlay, director of social sustainability for Robertson Group, said: “We’re always looking to provide new opportunities for young people, introducing them to the varied skills they can develop through a career with Robertson.

“It’s also important for us as a business, as offering placements allows us to introduce potential employees to the skills and expertise that we look for when hiring.

“As we face a construction industry skills shortage, programmes such as JET are absolutely critical in helping address this by highlighting our industry to the next generation.”

(from left) Jordan Walls (15) and Jay Anderson (15) are joined by Linzie Robb and Jamie Savage of Robertson

Garret Brady, development officer for JET, said: “Construction is a growth sector and to ensure that young people are prepared for employment it is important to provide them with practical opportunities to learn about the world of work.

“By providing Industry Insight Days and extended work placements, Robertson has played a key role in supporting young people to develop these skills.

“In particular, Robertson offered extended placements to a number of Winter Leavers and this experience has been a lightbulb moment for the young people – with some even securing apprenticeships with the company.”

Fifteen-year-old Jordan Walls is currently on placement at Robertson Partnership Homes’ West Pilton site, where 29 new homes will be created as part of the Small Sites Affordable Housing Programme, procured through Scape Group’s National Major Works framework.

Jordan said: “I’ve loved working with the different trades and figuring out my preference, and it’s been great to have real-life experience before leaving school.”

Jordan has now secured an apprenticeship with Tilley Electrical, the electrical subcontractor on the project.

Work starts on £5.7m Highlands creative hub

Work is underway on a “game-changing” transformation of former Inverness school buildings to give the Highlands its first creative hub.

The initial £1.2 million project is the first phase of a wider £5.7m scheme to transform the Midmills buildings (once part of the Inverness Royal Academy and later Inverness College but now empty) into a new Inverness Creative Academy.

Work on one building, which will provide high quality, affordable workspaces for 39 artists and makers, is expected to be complete by the summer of 2018.

Wasps Artists Studios, which is leading the project, is also fundraising for work on a second building which would provide exhibition, performance and events space, a public café, workshop areas and offices for business working in the creative industries.

Matt Sillars, who will be running a community-based photographic initiative called the Inverness Darkroom at Midmills, said: “The arts community has been hoping that Wasps would set up a major centre in Inverness for years, so the enthusiasm was overwhelming when it was announced.”

The message was reinforced by Kirsten Body, a member of the local Arts Steering Group, who said: “I was involved in the initial demand study for a creative hub in 2015 and was struck by the responses we got – there is a desire to feel part of a wider creative community and for the possibility of more collaboration with other creative professionals.

“There is undoubtedly a strong need for a focused, vibrant space where people can come together to share ideas.

“I’m really keen to see this new hub as a place that caters for events, provides networking opportunities as well as a gallery space for emergent contemporary artists to showcase their work and take risks. The Midmills building has huge potential to function as a production centre and true meeting place highlighting the wealth of creative talent from our area.”

Lindsay Dunbar, of rural theatre innovators Play Pieces Arts, added: “I really welcome the exciting development of the Creative Academy. Play Pieces Arts has run a successful programme of events in Inverness throughout the years however we are often placed in a vulnerable position due to venue availability as well as limited capacity spaces.

“The creative industry hub, as well as potential performance space, would be a game-changer for not only Play Pieces Arts but for the emerging and established makers of all art forms who want to base themselves in the Highlands.”

How the atrium section of the building will look once completed

As one of the largest developments of its kind outside the Central Belt the Creative Academy is expected to play a valuable economic role by supporting jobs and providing new business opportunities.

Tenants could include everything from visual artists, theatre groups and craft makers to media companies or businesses at the cutting edge of the digital arts.

Wasps has had great success with similar hubs such as South Block in Glasgow.

The Creative Academy will be a first for the Highlands, helping the region tap into the growing importance of the creative industries, which generates £3.7 billion a year for the Scottish economy and provides 73,600 jobs.

This is in line with HIE’s ambition for the creative sector to account for 7% of the economic activity – equalling the Scottish average.

Audrey Carlin, Wasps chief executive officer, said: “Scotland is a powerhouse for the arts, craft making and the wider creative industries.

“But people wanting careers, or to build businesses, in these sectors have faced major obstacles in the Highlands because of an acute shortage of quality workspace and of hubs that allow them to collaborate and generate new ideas.

“The Creative Academy has a great deal of support from the large creative community in and around Inverness.

“We are very proud that this will be one of the largest projects of its kind in the whole of Scotland and we hope it will enable creative people from all across the Highlands fulfill their ambitions and dreams.”

The project supported by The Highland Council, HIE, Creative Scotland, Inverness City Heritage Trust and McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles Limited.

The Phase 1 work is being carried out by Elgin-based Robertson Northern.

James Gibbs, area manager for HIE, said: “Wasps is a social enterprise with an excellent track record of bringing economic benefit to cities. This facility will allow workers in the creative industries sector to share skills and ideas and promote collaboration and innovation.

“HIE assisted Wasps’ development to help grow a strong creative cluster in Inverness and bring new economic activity to the city centre.”

Clive Gillman, Director, Creative Industries at Creative Scotland, added: “Wasps have built a strong sustainable model for supporting our creative communities the length and breadth of Scotland. We are proud to have helped them on that journey and especially through partnerships such as that in Inverness, which will see a significant building brought back to life to support the rich creative community in and around the city of Inverness.”

Hillcrest and Robertson to deliver new Aberdeen affordable homes

Hillcrest Housing Association and Robertson Partnership Homes have teamed up to deliver the much needed gift of affordable housing this Christmas.

The development of 138 homes at St Machar Road in Aberdeen is funded through a Scottish Government grant totalling £9,574,100.

David Zwirlein, Hillcrest’s director of development and new business, said: “We’re delighted to be on site just in time for Christmas to get started on this much needed development in Aberdeen.

“In partnership with Robertson Partnership Homes, we will deliver 138 homes at affordable rents by June 2021. Aberdeen has long had a shortage of affordable housing and a development on this scale will have a huge impact on the area.

“Phase one of this development will see us deliver 103 homes for social rent and 35 for mid-market rent.”

Stewart Shearer, managing director of Robertson Partnership Homes, said: “The new homes at St Machar Road are part of an ambitious development that will result in a number of high quality accommodation options that will help address significant demand in Aberdeen.

“The investment is not only transformational for the area and the local community, but also offers significant opportunities for the local supply chain.”

And finally… Scottish otters to benefit from protective road barriers

(from left) Rosie Third, Environmental Action Killin; Marc Anderson, site manager at Robertson and Gareth Kett, ranger at Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park

(from left) Rosie Third, Environmental Action Killin; Marc Anderson, site manager at Robertson and Gareth Kett, ranger at Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park

Robertson has demonstrated its commitment to conserving local wildlife by supporting the installation of otter reflective barriers in Killin.

The installation – which should allow passing otters and other wildlife to cross safely – follows the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) citing road deaths as the key reason that UK otters have a shorter lifespan than those in other countries.

The project, led by Environmental Action Killin (EAK), was met with strong support from Stirling Council and Robertson Civil Engineering, who carried out the installation works on the A827 near its Acharn biomass facility – a stretch of road notorious for otter fatalities.

Highway Barrier Solutions provided traffic management and lighting support, with the Callander branch of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Killin and Ardeonaig Community Trust providing wildlife reflectors and stakes and bollards respectively.

Bob Gould, construction manager, Robertson Civil Engineering, said: “Environmental best practice systems are embedded into all our core activities, so when EAK raised the issue of otter deaths related to road use in the area, we decided to offer our full support in ensuring the area around our Acharn facility is equipped to help safeguard the future of this important species.”

An otter was killed on the A827 in April this year

An otter was killed on the A827 in April this year

Rosemary Third, Environmental Action Killin (EAK), said: “Following the loss of a healthy female adult otter earlier in the year – the second in the same area – we decided to take action to help ensure this beautiful, iconic species is protected for generations to come.

“In the past their population has been decimated by hunting, habitat loss, disturbance, use of pesticides and pollution – now the greatest threat comes from our roads.

“I very much hope this successful project leads the way in inspiring future partnerships between businesses and conservation groups and becomes an integral part of planning and practice internationally.”

Convenor of Stirling Council’s environment and housing committee, Councillor Jim Thomson, said: “We work continuously to protect our local wildlife and were keen to help develop a proposal that would deter otters from crossing the road when vehicles are present.

“The installation of the protective road barriers was a combined effort by our officers, the developer and EAK and is a great proactive response that we hope will protect the otters from further harm.”

Further support came from the IOSF, which offered technical advice, with local insights and information provided by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, who are also engaging with local schools on the project and otter conservation.

Dundee set to approve £15.5m Waterfront office development

Site 6 of the Dundee Waterfront shown as work began on the V&A to the left

Site 6 of the Dundee Waterfront shown as work began on the V&A to the left

Work to create a £15.5 million office block in the heart of Dundee’s Waterfront is set to begin next month with the approval of a tender submitted by Robertson Construction.

Councillors are being asked to approve the appointment of the contractor to build on land at Site 6, adjacent to the new V&A Museum.

The five-floor development will include Grade A office space, ground floor commercial units, a service yard and dedicated parking.

Due to be completed in February 2019, the building forms part of broader development on the site which received planning consent in the summer.

A report being considered by the city development committee next week seeks approval to accept the tender submitted by Robertson Construction on behalf of Wilmott Dixon.

Funding for the project is available as part of the Scottish Government’s Growth Accelerator Fund and prudential borrowing from income received from leasing the commercial units within the building.

Lynne Short, convener of the city development committee, said: “This is another important milestone in the transformation of our central Waterfront.

“There can be few locations matching it anywhere in Scotland, just yards from the new V&A and the River Tay. It’s also right next door to our new railway station.

“Creating top-class office space like this bolsters the ongoing efforts of the council and its partners to attract blue chip employers to the city.”

Dundee Central Waterfront Site Proposal

The building forms part of a broader mixed-use development on the site

The report, by executive director of city development Mike Galloway, notes that there will also be a community benefits programme including guarantees to employ local labour, apprenticeships and local contract spend.

It also confirms that all employees working for main contractor Robertson Construction and all sub-contractors on the site will be paid the Living Wage, currently £8.75 and due to go up every November.

Councillor Short added: “This development and others in the Central Waterfront will not only act as a magnet for future employers, but also create opportunities for workers in the construction sector.

“It’s another strong signal that Dundee is a city open for business.”

Meanwhile, a ten-year vision to build on the success of Dundee construction and infrastructure projects will also be considered by councillors next week.

The Capital Investment Strategy links together a number of developments that will assist in policy areas like work & enterprise, children & families, healthcare & wellbeing and community safety and justice.

Future planning for the school estate, green spaces, housing investment, smart cities digital and stronger communities are among the areas under focus.

The council runs a five-year capital plan, with the current version sitting at investment levels of nearly £350m. While including these details, the Capital Investment Strategy illustrates the council’s longer-term thinking for programmes.

The document also details a number of projects which are earmarked to take place under the Tay Cities Deal including a Comics Centre, the redevelopment of Dundee Contemporary Arts, an aviation skills partnership and the decommissioning opportunities being explored by the Dundeecom partnership.

Council leader John Alexander said: “This strategy is a clear outline of the ambition we have for Dundee and illustrates how hard we are working to realise it.

“We are maintaining the regeneration of the city and ensuring that all of our pupils are learning in quality surroundings.

“There are a number of aspirations through the Tay Cities deal that the wider partnership of the area want to realise because they are hugely exciting and will help to accelerate the momentum that has been built up.

“We are also thinking innovatively about strengthening the city’s infrastructure for years to come, and this will include the delivery of Wi-Fi and 5G readiness in the Central Waterfront with the Scottish Futures Trust.

“We are absolutely determined to build a fairer and smarter city for the future and take on the challenges that exist for the benefit of our people.”

The council’s policy and resources committee meets on Monday December 11.

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.”

NHS Orkney hospital tops out

NHS Orkney tops out

A ceremony has taken place to mark a major milestone for NHS Orkney’s new flagship hospital and healthcare facility.

The £64 million project will see the development of a purpose built facility to replace the existing Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall, two GP practices and the Public Dental Service.

NHS Orkney chief executive, Cathie Cowan, and members of the NHS Orkney Board, formally held the topping out ceremony alongside representatives from Robertson Group.

Cathie Cowan said: “This is a proud moment for NHS Orkney and marks a vital step towards ensuring we can continue to provide high quality care in Orkney for generations to come.

“We are absolutely delighted that this stage of the project has been reached, with our fantastic new facility a step closer to reality. NHS Orkney staff have worked tirelessly to make this happen, and local residents have been incredibly patient and supportive. Once again, my thanks go to the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust for their support in this project.

“This will be a truly first class facility and the benefits it brings shouldn’t be underestimated. On a personal level it is great to see our hospital and healthcare facility take shape. I am in no doubt that this facility will enable us to provide even better care and services, as well as help us attract clinical professionals from across the country and further afield. When I joined NHS Orkney we had a vision to bring where appropriate and safe, more services back to Orkney. I am delighted this vision is now a reality as a result of this significant investment in healthcare here in Orkney.”

Bill Robertson, founder and executive chairman, Robertson Group, added: “Tremendous progress has been made on the new hospital and healthcare facility since work started earlier this year. The topping out ceremony represents a major milestone and brings us one step closer to completing the facility in 2019.

“Many of our businesses have been involved in the project, from Capital Projects to Construction and Facilities Management – and that expertise has been crucial in building a strong partnership with NHS Orkney.

“We have also forged great relationships with the local community, putting them at the heart of the project and providing apprentice and graduate opportunities, not to mention creating opportunities for local SMEs.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Keppie Design has been appointed as architects, while AECOM and TUV SUD make up the rest of the successful team.

Global professional services consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff secured the role of Independent Tester on the project last year.

The scheme is due to be completed in spring 2019.

Urban Union appoints new finance director

Neil McKay (left) and Kenny Downs of Urban Union

Neil McKay (left) and Kenny Downs of Urban Union

Regeneration specialist Urban Union has hired a new finance director as it gears up to launch additional sites across Scotland.

The organisation, which is a partnership between Robertson Group and McTaggart Construction currently operating in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth, has appointed Kenny Downs to the role.

He joins Urban Union in its Glasgow head office having previously worked as regional financial controller for Keepmoat Regeneration. A graduate of Strathclyde Business School, he has eight years’ experience in construction and property services and is a qualified accountant.

Neil McKay, managing director, Urban Union, said: “This is an exciting time for Urban Union – our three current sites are doing exceptionally well, and we are preparing to start work on a fourth site in Glasgow’s Pollokshaws area.

“It is essential that we have a robust finance operation and Kenny has an abundance of experience, not only in regeneration but in the wider construction area. He’s proving a vital asset already and a fantastic addition to the growing team at Urban Union.”

The appointment of a new finance director marks the eighth new hire for Urban Union since the start of 2017. Other new roles include three sales advisors, an assistant quantity surveyor, a customer service manager, a sales and marketing assistant and an additional business development manager.

These new roles will allow Urban Union to strengthen its offering to customers in all areas.

Kenny Downs said: “Urban Union has a strong reputation within the industry for delivering successful regeneration projects so to join as finance director is a real honour.

“I’m looking forward to working closely with Neil and the wider team, using my operational finance skills to ensure an even more successful future for the business and its partners across Scotland.”

Urban Union’s first development is Laurieston Living in Glasgow. In the first phase, a total of 240 affordable homes were delivered for New Gorbals Housing Association, together with 69 private for sale properties. A further 55 affordable homes are currently being constructed for the Association. The second phase, currently underway, will see 173 private for sales homes built.

Urban Union’s second project, launched in partnership with City of Edinburgh Council’s 21st Century Homes housing division, is in Pennywell, North Edinburgh. To date 193 homes have been created, of which 108 were for social and mid-market rent and 85 were for private sale. A further 177 homes are currently under construction on Phase 2 of the development with 30 properties already handed over and occupied.

The partnership is also working on a third development in the Muirton area of Perth, building 203 homes as part of the final phase of a regeneration project in conjunction with Caledonia Housing Association and Fairfield Housing Co-operative.

Former Inverness College grounds to be transformed into new homes

robertson groupRobertson Northern is starting work on a £3.6 million contract to build a selection of affordable homes in the Midmills area of Inverness.

The contract, awarded by Highland Council, will see Robertson Northern build 31 new apartments at the former Inverness College site.

The works at the Midmills site are due to start in November 2017 and are expected to be complete by December 2018.

Frank Reid, managing director at Robertson Northern, said: “This development will breathe new life into the former college grounds and help meet the need for more affordable homes in Inverness.

“The planned works will help transform the existing space into a thriving community area with beautiful homes and great communal spaces. The extensive works planned for the wider Midmills site will help to reinvigorate this historic and desirable area of Inverness.”

Provost of Inverness and Area, Highland Councillor Helen Carmichael, said: “The new apartments at Midmills Campus will be a great addition to the range of housing we are able to offer to people in Inverness and the surrounding areas.

“This particular development of 31 properties for rent by the Highland Council will be available for people aged 55 or older. Housing is a huge priority in the region and is a key priority in the council’s programme. This excellent development is providing much needed homes in Inverness that are responsive to local needs.”

Stirling Council unveils plans to build more than 700 new affordable homes

Stirling SHIP picStirling Council will work with partners to build more than 700 new affordable homes over the next five years.

Communities in Cornton, Cultenhove, Raploch and in a number of rural settlements will all benefit from the creation of more social rented houses, while affordable housing will also be provided as part of the new communities at South Stirling Gateway and Durieshill.

The plans are part of the council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) which was approved yesterday by the environment & housing committee. This will include £45 million of Scottish Government funding to deliver the housing programme up to 2023.

The SHIP has been prepared in consultation with local housing associations and other delivery partners, and sets out the council’s strategic investment priorities for affordable housing over the next five years.

Housing portfolio holder, Councillor Evelyn Tweed, said: “The delivery of these projects will generate a number of benefits to the local economy, create jobs and training opportunities in the construction sector and bring in additional Council Tax revenue to help fund the delivery of essential services for the residents of Stirling.

“It’s one of this administration’s key priorities to provide more social rented housing and the programme will result in an increased supply of good-quality, energy-efficient, affordable housing which helps address identified housing needs throughout the area.

“The Scottish Government has committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes in the current parliament and, working with our Housing Association partners, I want to ensure that we do everything we can to help meet that ambitious target.”

Almost a quarter of the homes will come from a partnership proposal with Robertson Group as part of the Raploch Regeneration Initiative to deliver 166 new social rented homes by 2022.

The SHIP also includes the delivery of new properties at Howlands Road, Cultenhove, and at Johnston Avenue, Cornton, with both projects being taken forward by Forth Housing Association.

The SHIP reflects one the council’s main priorities of investing in the pressured rural areas, and includes plans by Rural Stirling Housing Association to take forward projects at Balmaha Plantation and Claish Farm in Callander.