Planning minister rejects dairy firm’s development plans at Airthrey Kerse

A planning appeal by a dairy firm to deliver 600 homes and infrastructure on land at Airthrey Kerse in Stirling has been dismissed by the Scottish Government.

Graham’s The Family Dairy, in partnership with Mactaggart & Mickel Homes, first submitted the planning application for the development which encompasses 600 houses including 150 affordable units, a new primary school and public park in 2014.

The company said it is “extremely disappointed” by the decision to reject the proposals which it claims would have delivered significant socio-economic benefits for the local area, the Scottish food and drink industry, and Scotland as a whole.

Following a two-year appeal process, minister for local government and housing Kevin Stewart decided that the proposed development did not accord with the new Local Development Plan; a position described by the firm as “contradictory” given that the new plan contains a housing shortfall, is likely to depend on sites such as Airthrey for development in the near future and its adoption has been withheld by the Scottish Government.

The dairy company said its concern over this decision is heightened by the conclusion reached by the Government’s appointed Reporter that the project would deliver a sustainable development and improve local infrastructure, particularly the risk of flooding and road safety.

Had the development been approved, in alignment with Stirling Council’s head of planning’s recommendation to the committee, 150 new affordable homes would have been delivered along with infrastructure improvements and 500 new full-time, on-site jobs at the dairy for the local economy. Overall, this would have generated a £65.3m gross value added (GVA) per annum into the Scottish economy and created a total of 1,425 jobs across the country, the firm added.

Robert Graham, managing director at Graham’s The Family Dairy, said: “We are extremely disappointed by the Minister’s decision which appears to place more importance on continuing to protect a failed Local Development Plan process than supporting the delivering of much needed affordable homes, infrastructure and creating full-time jobs within the city and Scottish dairy sector.

“For a government that talks of its commitment to growing the Scottish economy, prioritising the rural and food and drink sectors as well as tackling the housing shortfall in Scotland, this decision by the Planning Minister sends a clearly contradictory message.

“As a family business which has grown from 45 to almost 700 employees over two decades, we are disappointed that our £40m step-change investment that would have benefited the Scottish economy, as well as the whole Scottish dairy farming industry, will now not go ahead. However, we will continue to endeavour to innovate and deliver great Scottish dairy products for the benefit of our customers, employees and farming partners despite the government’s decision.”

Mactaggart & Mickel Group director, Andrew Mickel, added: “This is a huge disappointment and a surprising decision by the Scottish Government which has publicly stated that economic prosperity is at the heart of its vision for Scotland.

“It’s also terrible news for the thousands of people who are currently on a waiting list for a house in Stirlingshire, and a bitter blow for families looking forward to a new primary school, neighbourhood centre and public park.

“The government says all the right things about tackling the housing crisis, but this decision suggests they are unwilling to actually take the steps required to bring about real improvements.”

Family business calls on Scottish Government to approve new dairy proposal

Family-run dairy Graham’s has appealed to the Scottish Government to approve its planning application for Airthrey Green in Stirling.

The firm says the plan will facilitate the single largest investment in the Scottish dairy industry in more than a generation through the creation of a £40m processing, R&D and training facility, while also delivering vital housing to resolve Stirling Council’s long-standing shortfall.

The third-generation family business – in partnership with Mactaggart & Mickel Homes – submitted the planning application for the development which encompasses 600 houses including 150 affordable units, a new primary school and public park in 2014.

The application was recommended for approval by the Council’s Head of Planning, however, it was refused and has since been subject to a two-year planning appeal.

The project, which has been a total of eight years in the making, is now with Kevin Stewart the Minister for Local Government and Housing for approval. If passed, it will generate 1,425 jobs and inject £65.3m gross value added (GVA) into the Scottish economy.

Robert Graham

Robert Graham, managing director at Graham’s The Family Dairy, is calling on the Scottish Government to approve the application, which he believes is firmly in line with a range of policies and strategies – including the SNP’s Growth Commission report, Scotland’s Economic Strategy, the Scottish Planning Policy, Stirling’s Economic Strategy and the Scottish Food & Drink Strategy. He also believes it will deliver significant socio-economic benefits for the local area of Stirling, the Scottish food and drink industry, and Scotland as a whole.

Mr Graham also cautioned that failure to uphold their appeal would be at odds with the First Minster’s commitments at the SNP party conference in Aberdeen to “boost the economy now, preparing for the future and building the homes that people need”.

Mr Graham said: “Airthrey Green is the ideal case study for what the Sustainable Growth Commission Report refers to as the ‘Next Generation Economic Model for Scotland’. It will have a transformational, positive impact at a crucial time, not only to our business but also the local community. Approval will constitute a step-change in investment by facilitating the new dairy, while at the same time tackling the critical housing shortage for Stirling. At its heart, our project invests in people, affordable homes, jobs, skills and infrastructure, and builds on the tremendous opportunities that the recently announced City Deal for Stirling and Clackmannanshire unlocks.

“However, the alternative, if the appeal is dismissed is twofold: Stirling Council’s housing shortfall will continue to deepen, reinforcing the unaffordability of housing in Stirling with wider social and economic impact; and the step-change investment in jobs, skills development and the Scottish dairy sector that is essential to building a progressive, inclusive economy will not be delivered.

“The Growth Commission concludes: ‘Ultimately this is about the sort of country – society and economy – we want to become’. My response is that our family is dedicated to continuing to support the economic ambitions of Stirling and Scotland through partnerships that benefit inclusive growth, as evidenced by our commitment to make our biggest-ever investment against a backdrop of economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.”

If the Airthrey Green project is approved, the new dairy facility will integrate local skills and training programmes to support product development and innovation in the sector, including with the University of Stirling and through a modern apprenticeship programme with Forth Valley College.

Overall, the Airthrey Green development will include:

  • 600 new homes; including 150 affordable units and a wide range of tenures including retirement and custom build
  • A new two-stream primary school
  • Neighbourhood centre to provide facilities for healthy and active lifestyles
  • Parkland with footpath and cycle linkages
  • Retail floorspace in the region of 15,000 sqft
  • Infrastructure improvements; including enhancement of Airthrey Road corridor with new junctions and safe pedestrian linkages, flood alleviation scheme and enhanced public transport services

Green light for University of Stirling’s £20m sports facility redevelopment

A £20 million transformation of the University of Stirling’s sports facilities has been approved by councillors.

The redevelopment will see Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence create an “iconic” new sports complex that will be integrated with existing world-class facilities.

The new building will include purpose-built studios, an innovative fitness suite, three-court sports hall, indoor cycling studio, strength and conditioning area, as well as a new state-of-the-art high-performance suite. Users of the new building will also benefit from enhanced changing facilities and communal spaces.

The National Swimming Academy, National Tennis Centre, sports hall and squash courts will remain in their current form.

Professor Gerry McCormac, University principal and vice-chancellor, said: “This is another significant milestone for the University and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to delivering an exceptional student experience at Stirling.

“Alongside the exciting Campus Central project, the sports facilities redevelopment is part of our major enhancement programme that will transform campus life and help us achieve our strategic aim of being one of the top 25 universities in the UK by 2021.”

Director of Sport, Cathy Gallagher, said: “This investment will literally break new ground in respect of sport, physical activity and wellbeing. Our ambition is to set standards at local, national and international levels and the significantly enhanced facilities will unleash new participation, innovative opportunities and an unrivalled experience.

“The unique feature of sport at the University of Stirling is the environment within which Olympic medallists train and compete alongside students, staff and the wider community. This development will mark the beginning of another exciting chapter for sport at the University and within the Stirling area.”

As part of a wider programme of campus enhancement, construction work of the new facility is due to commence in autumn this year, with the centre anticipated to be in operation by summer 2020.

Green light for more than 300 homes in Raploch

Proposals for more than 300 homes on four different sites across Raploch have been approved by councillors.

Members of Stirling Council’s planning and regulations panel backed plans by Robertson Group to build homes on land owned by the council.

Planning permission in principle was granted in January this year, and last week councillors agreed details of the 319 homes to be built across the four locations.

The proposals include:

  • 75 affordable homes at Back O’Hill Road where formerly there had been council housing (Gowanhill Gardens).
  • 211 homes (a mix of 75 private and 136 affordable housing) at a site that was previously a primary school and playground.
  • 16 affordable homes at Drip Road between Kildean Hospital and Balfour Street.
  • 17 affordable homes, on a site which fronts Drip Road.

The proposals were approved subject to a number of conditions laid out in the planning report submitted to the Panel.

Convenor of the planning and regulations panel, Alasdair Macpherson, said: “One of our key priorities is to build more affordable homes across the Stirling Council area and these developments will result in an increased supply of good quality, energy efficient housing.

“I look forward to seeing this project getting underway and for new tenants to be able to access these new properties in the future.”

WSP to design Stirling Station redevelopment project

Scotland’s Stirling Station forecourt is set to be transformed following the appointment of engineering consultants WSP as designers for its redevelopment project.

The project will involve the creation of a new station forecourt area, which aligns with improvements already being made by Stirling Council to enhance routes to the city’s centre and its bus station.

WSP and experts from the consultant’s Glasgow based rail, development and landscape teams will collaborate to successfully provide detailed design services for the forecourt.

David Campbell, development technical director at WSP, said: “We are delighted to be appointed as designers for the station forecourt and look forward to working with ScotRail and their partners in delivering this project. This complements our involvement with Stirling Council on the Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Stirling Framework which aligns with the areas masterplan.

“Our multi-disciplinary experience of rail stations and public realm/placemaking, means that we can provide ScotRail with the design solutions that will benefit the area and its people.”

ScotRail Alliance programmes & transformation director, Ian McConnell, said: “We look forward to working with WSP and seeing the designs for the redevelopment. Stirling is ready for a railway station that matches the dynamic and forward-looking development of the cityscape.

“With brand new electric trains on the way, we want customers travelling from Stirling to do so from a modern station.”

Additional funding for Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal

Keith Brown

Another £5 million has been announced to fund more projects as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal.

A deal worth over £90m was signed yesterday which will see the Scottish Government and UK government each invest £45.1m with regional partners, including the private sector to use infrastructure to drive economic growth across the region.

Now the Scottish Government has committed a further £5m to the deal, bringing its investment to £50.1m over the next 10 years.

The extra investment will deliver a new Business Park at Kildean and will support the next stage of development of the proposed new infrastructure at Callander.

These projects have the potential to deliver further growth through leverage of private sector investment of £175m and delivering over 1,000 new jobs for the region.

Announcing the additional funding package, economy secretary Keith Brown said: “I am delighted to have secured the agreement for a City Region Deal for Stirling and Clackmannanshire which will deliver over 5,000 new jobs and inclusive growth across the region.

“The Scottish Government has been fully committed to this deal throughout and I have been clear about the importance of this region to Scotland.

“That is why we are prepared to invest at the level we expected, to ensure the region delivers its economic potential. Our additional £5 million of investment means our total contribution to the people of Stirling and Clackmannanshire is £50.1 million.

“Our investments in the City Region Deal and beyond will ensure this region which has played a key role in Scotland’s rich history, will be able to make a positive contribution to Scotland’s future prosperity.”

£90.2m City Region Deal agreed for Stirling and Clackmannanshire

Over £90 million is to be invested in Stirling and Clackmannanshire through an ambitious UK City Region Deal which aims to use infrastructure to drive economic growth across the region.

Working in partnership with both Stirling Council and Clackmannanshire Council, the deal will see the Scottish Government and UK government each invest £45.1m with regional partners, including the private sector.

Set to unlock economic opportunities across the whole of the region, deliver new and up-skilled jobs across a range of sectors, it is hoped the deal will enable the city region to thrive in new and emerging sectors with a highly-skilled, flexible workforce.

Among the plans for the investment are:

  • The creation of a new International  Environment Centre will draw together academic expertise from across Scotland, the UK and the world.  It will connect environmental research with business opportunities and training and will take full advantage of the natural environment and heritage of the region.
  • New and improved Active Travel routes through the City Region Deal. Transport Scotland will work with the partners to identify investments to improve regional connectivity between Stirling City and Alloa, and outlying settlements, as well as improvements to the active travel network around Northside.
  • A new Aquaculture Innovation Hub, which will be unique in the UK, will operate four aquatic research facilities which between them will provide the full range of marine environmental conditions.  The hub will create research and development opportunities to grow the export of Scottish aquaculture skills and products.
  • The development of a Digital District programme of investments in digital skills, training and business development, alongside the creation of Digital Hubs in Callander and Alloa.
  • The Scottish Tartan Centre, a new attraction for visitors to Stirling and Scotland, will celebrate the history of this iconic fabric that is associated with Scotland the world over, and help to grow the region’s tourism industry.
  • Releasing MOD land to the council to align with their housing and business plans.
  • DWP will offer support to people from disadvantaged groups in Clackmannanshire to help them access work.

Cabinet secretary for the Economy Keith Brown said: “Scotland’s cities and regional communities are the engines of our economy. Today’s Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal demonstrates our clear and strong commitment to supporting and growing the regional economy.

“That is why the Scottish Government has agreed to invest £45.1m as part of a £90.2m City Region Deal that will deliver significant long-term benefits for Stirling and Clackmannanshire and Scotland as a whole.

“This deal has the power to build on the area’s socio-economic strengths and expertise, developing them to transfer the economy, bringing sustained economic growth and positive social impact to all of its communities.

“Building on the region’s expertise, the Scottish Government will invest £17m to support the development of a new International Environment Centre that will provide an integrated approach to cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development to tackles global environmental challenges. We will invest investment up to £15m to develop and augment key economic assets in culture, heritage and tourism and develop the regions digital capabilities by funding a £2m Digital District. We will also tackle the digital exclusion by investing up to a further £2m to develop digital hubs in Callander and Alloa.

“The successful delivery of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Regions Deal will bring significant positive benefits to both the local and national economies and I am delighted that we have been able to secure this.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “The UK government is investing £45m in the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal. The ambitious and innovative deal will drive economic growth across the region, creating jobs and boosting prosperity for generations to come. It is now for Stirling and Clackmannanshire to get on with the hard work needed to turn these proposals into a reality.

“This is just one part of a programme of UK City Region Deals across Scotland. Today’s announcement brings the UK government’s investment in UK City Region Deals in Scotland to more than £1 billion. All of Scotland’s seven cities either have, or are in negotiation for, a deal. And talks are also underway on the Borderlands and Ayrshire growth deals.

“The UK government is working hard to boost economic growth right across the UK. We want to work with the Scottish Government where we can to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of Scotland’s economy.”

Stirling Council leader, Scott Farmer, said: “This deal will help Stirling Council write the first page of a fresh new chapter in this area’s ancient, famous and storied history.

“Today we focus on our future by using this investment to not just build on what we have and know, but to expand, grow and truly flourish in the modern world.

“Our aim is to bring change and innovation to the people, businesses and communities of the entire region and the funding brought forward with the City Region Deal puts the power in our hands to achieve that.”

Clackmannanshire Council leader Ellen Forson added: “I am delighted that the Scottish and UK Governments have made this formal commitment to invest in the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal through the announcement of ‘Heads of Terms’ today.

“I believe that the joint City Deal bid provides a unique opportunity to promote shared and sustainable growth in our region over the next 10 years and beyond, building on Clackmannanshire’s strengths whilst helping to change the lives of our disadvantaged and excluded residents. We look forward to continuing to work closely with all our partners in the months and years ahead to develop these exciting initiatives.”

Arc-Tech secures double contract award from NHS

Mechanical and electrical services provider Arc-Tech (Scotland) Ltd has been awarded a large-scale mechanical services contract with NHS Forth Valley.

The Glasgow-based firm is to undertake the upgrade of building services for both Stirling Community Hospital and Falkirk Community Hospital.

Arc-Tech will commence the contracts simultaneously in June 2018, each benefiting from an upgrade to ventilation, LTHW heating and water services to improve efficiency and controllability of existing resources.

Stirling Community Hospital is made up of several buildings of different age and is set to benefit from the development of a new Health and Care Village which is presently under construction. The entire estate is serviced by a network of pipe systems serviced by three duel fuel steam boilers. Arc-Tech has been tasked to install two new plant rooms within the estate and integrate them with the existing network.

Falkirk Community Hospital will benefit from a new replacement air handling system which will replace older systems. The new systems will improve air flow intake and therefore improve efficiency and support long-term performance.

John Gallacher, Arc-Tech managing director, said: “To be working with the NHS is a remarkable achievement for Arc-Tech and we are extremely proud to be involved on contracts that are ultimately there to improve hospital services for both staff and patients.

“We have recent experience in this sector having recently delivered a bespoke M&E package for the St Andrew’s Hospice so we are aware of the importance of working in a sensitive environment such as a hospital. Our team will ensure we operate to the highest standard expected of us and look forward to working with the NHS as the contract progresses.”

Ogilvie starts work on new Stirling student accommodation

Ogilvie Construction has started site operations on an £18.2 million development to create Stirling’s first purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) building for Maven Capital Partners.

The high quality 207-bed facility at Forthside will provide a range of accommodation and sizes and is to comprise 123 studios, 8 one bedroom apartments and 76 two and three bed en-suite cluster flats. As well as easy access to the town centre and it’s transport links to the University, the new building will have extensive communal facilities including a cinema, gym, games room, laundry, as well as several private and group study rooms.

Donald MacDonald, managing director, Ogilvie Construction, said: “We are proud to have been chosen to deliver bespoke student accommodation building that will offer much needed high quality living for Stirling students. Our team has extensive experience and expertise in this sector and has successfully completed a number of similar projects around the country.”

Paul Johnston, investment director at Maven, said: “Stirling has one of the most acute shortages of student accommodation in the UK, with no private PBSA market to support the continued growth of the university. Maven is excited to be working on this landmark development which will help ease pressure on local housing stock and assist the University of Stirling to continue to attract the highest calibre students and postgraduates to the city. We are also very pleased to be once again working with Stirling-based Ogilvie Construction and their supply chain to the benefit of the local economy.”

University of Stirling unveils £21m Campus Central project

The University of Stirling has unveiled plans for one of the biggest infrastructure investments since its foundation.

Designed with input from the Students’ Union, staff and local stakeholders, the £21 million Campus Central project will see the refurbishment of the existing Atrium, creation of a three-storey new building, and a re-landscaped, traffic-free Queen’s Court.

The project will see a new entrance and central welcome area for the Andrew Miller Building, with retail, catering, events space and student support services facilities. It will also feature expanded and enhanced meeting and social learning and study space at the Atrium.

The Queen’s Court ground-floor level will provide the gateway to the Macrobert Arts Centre, student support services, meeting and multi-purpose learning spaces. The upper second-floor will house an interdisciplinary, collaborative research space and the Graduate School.

More than 3,000m2 of additional floor space will be created to meet the needs of the growing University community, as well as circa 2,500m2 of refurbished Atrium space. The development will improve connections between the loch-side entrance, residences, teaching zone, Students’ Union, Macrobert Arts Centre, Queen’s Court and Cottrell Building.

Stakeholder workshops and consultations with students, staff, and other users have taken place and will be ongoing to inform the development of the detailed design and layout.

Campus Central also encompasses changes to the transport flow in and around the campus, including the introduction of a new and improved transport hub, minor changes to car parking and new bus routes through the campus.

The works on these transportation changes will begin in mid-May and are expected to be completed in September 2018.

On completion of the main Campus Central building works, the Queen’s Court will be fully transformed into a pedestrianised zone, with the exception of access for emergency and service vehicles.

To facilitate long-term improvements to the University’s facilities, a pedestrian zone will be created in the Queen’s Court area, and will require some essential changes to traffic flow on campus. Buses will be re-routed to a new and improved transport hub providing bus travellers with close access to the Logie Entrance to Cottrell teaching space, Stirling Court Hotel and the University of Stirling INTO Building.

The planning application has already been approved by Stirling Council and it is intended that work on the transportation project will commence next month, and be completed and available for use in September 2018, in time for the new semester.

Professor Gerry McCormac, university principal and vice-chancellor, said: “The transformation of the centre of our campus is one of the University’s key ambitions to support the achievement of our strategic aims in learning, teaching and research.

“It will enable us to significantly enhance the Stirling student experience and to deliver facilities commensurate with our ambitions to be one of the top 25 universities in the UK.”

University of Stirling Students’ Union president, Astrid Smallenbroek, added: “The Students’ Union is excited by the University’s plans to transform the heart of the campus, to further enhance the student experience.

“We are working in partnership with the University on this project and particularly welcome further improvements to the University’s student support service facilities, and that Stirling students will benefit from new study and social learning spaces.”

Campus Central development is expected to begin in early 2019, and be completed around September 2020.