Scotland’s first purpose-built film & TV studio wins formal government backing

Scottish ministers have granted planning permission in principle for the country’s first purpose-built film and TV studio following a long-running planning battle.

Developers PSL Land Ltd said the Pentland Studios, which will be based near Straiton, outside Edinburgh, could help kick-start Scotland’s film industry and create more than 900 jobs.

The decision to back the Keppie-designed facility overturns an earlier recommendation from a Scottish Government reporter that permission be refused.

The proposal was called in by the government after Midlothian Council failed to make a ruling on the application, which was originally submitted in 2014. Ministers deemed the studio to be of “national significance” and used its Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals to rule on the application.

Developers behind the £850 million development on the site of the St James shopping centre in Edinburgh tried to block the plans last January amid fears it could undermine its own project.

WSP in Edinburgh, which has been instrumental in helping client PSL Land Ltd achieve planning permission in principle, has welcomed the decision.

The engineering professional services consulting firm was appointed in 2014 to assist in the planning of the world-class film and TV studio. As the project progresses onto the next stage, the team in Edinburgh will continue to support on the civil and structural, environmental and geotechnical areas of the project.

PSL Land Ltd is now working towards securing planning in detail.

David Campbell, technical director at WSP, said: “We are delighted that the scheme has been granted planning permission from the Scottish Government. It’s truly a unique project and we’ve enjoyed helping Pentland Studios in the planning process. We now look forward to start working on the next stage.”

Director of development for PSL, Jim O’Donnell, added: “We are extremely pleased to have reached this major milestone in the studio complex’s journey, after a considerable period of time and work to date. We particularly want to thank those including WSP who have supported the project throughout the past three years, and we look forward to reaching the next milestone as soon as possible.”

Proposals lodged for £40m research hub at University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow has applied for planning in principle for £40 million research hub at its 31-hectare Gilmorehill campus.

Designed by HOK Architects, the 17,000sq/m project will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the university’s researchers to investigate significant global challenges including energy demand and waste management.

The research hub will be the second part of what the University has described as an “inspirational and world-leading masterplan” for the West End campus.

HOK is providing design consultancy services for the project. The consultancy team is collaborating with WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, which has secured the multidisciplinary engineering contract. Ironside Farrar is the planning consultant.

In the design statement, HOK wrote: “In response to the University’s brief of creating a vibrant, collaborative and interactive environment, the Research Hub has a colonnade on the east facade along the edge of the new University Square. The colonnade is formed from sculptural re-constituted stone structural columns with a polished finish and regular rhythm culminating in the entrance portico.

“The colonnade forms a defined, sheltered pedestrian pathway, lit at night. Along the colonnade and returning on the north and south facades the Level 2 facade is transparent revealing the internal functions of the Research Hub, including the Maker Lab and Exhibition Space and with views through to the Atrium providing an interactive showcase for the work of the research groups within the building.”

The view of the entrance from Elder Chapel Place

The project is expected to be completed in 2019.

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.”

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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.

Esh set to deliver modern learning and library space for Heriot-Watt

Cameron Smail Library Heriot-Watt UniversityRepresentatives from Esh Border Construction and Heriot-Watt University met this week to celebrate the beginning of an extensive refurbishment project at the prestigious higher education establishment.

Livingston-based Esh has been awarded the contract to completely transform the university’s Cameron Smail Library into a modern and welcoming learning environment for students, lecturers and support staff.

The £4 million project will see Esh strip back the existing building, before constructing a new layout with replacement fixtures, fittings and decoration.

Beginning on the ground floor, the project will be completed over five phases across each level of the live site, which is still being utilised by students and staff as a 24/7 learning resource and place of study.

Works will also see the replacement of internal doors, the refurbishment of toilet facilities, and the addition of new windows, as well as new mechanical and electrical installations.

Esh Border Construction’s regional director for Scotland, Gerard McMahon, said: “The Cameron Smail library was a pioneering academic building when it was constructed over 40 years ago. It has since been used as a model for universities across the world and we are very proud to play such a pivotal role in securing its future as a modern state-of-the-art learning facility.

“Careful planning and preparation has been put in by our teams in full consultation with the team at Heriot-Watt and we are confident disruption will be kept to a minimum as we look to deliver a cost-effective, energy-efficient, modern facility.”

(from left) Heriot Watt’s head of resource and facility services, Iain Young; deputy principal of Heriot-Watt, Prof John Sawkins; director of information services at Heriot-Watt, Kathy McCade; Esh Border Construction site manager, Robert Faulds; Esh Border Construction regional director, Gerard McMahon; Esh construction director, Paul Devine and Esh Border Construction contract manger, Steven Kelly

(from left) Heriot Watt’s head of resource and facility services, Iain Young; deputy principal of Heriot-Watt, Prof John Sawkins; director of information services at Heriot-Watt, Kathy McCade; Esh Border Construction site manager, Robert Faulds; Esh Border Construction regional director, Gerard McMahon; Esh construction director, Paul Devine and Esh Border Construction contract manger, Steven Kelly

Professor John Sawkins, deputy principal of learning and teaching, Heriot-Watt University, added: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Esh Border Construction on this refurbishment to turn our library into a modern, flexible and comfortable environment fit for a forward-looking ambitious university.

“Throughout the planning works we’ve been working closely with students, academic colleagues, library staff and consultants to get the best use of the space to provide access to a wide range of print and electronic resources and comfortable study space to support our students’ academic success.

“With improved space and technology, this construction project clearly demonstrates the University’s commitment to delivering the very best learning and teaching environment for all our students.”

Esh is working alongside architects Lewis and Hickey, quantity surveyors Turner & Townsend, structural engineers Peter Brett Associates, mechanical and electrical engineers RSP and project managers WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff.

Matthew Fair, project architect with Lewis and Hickey, said: “Lewis and Hickey are pleased to be working with Esh Construction to fully refurbish the Cameron Smail Library at Heriot-Watt University. The scheme looks to update the existing facilities and considerably enhance the student experience of a key building within the campus.”

The Heriot-Watt projects follow a strong pipeline of work in the education sector for Esh Border Construction.

Balfour Beatty enters strategic alliance with Atkins, Mott MacDonald and WSP

Balfour partnership stockBalfour Beatty has today announced the formation of a collaborative UK Strategic Design Consultant Partnership with Atkins, Mott MacDonald and WSP.

The firm said the mutually beneficial partnership will foster a new level of openness, collaboration and innovation never before seen within the construction industry.

The Partnership will focus Balfour Beatty’s procurement of design consultants for its projects towards Atkins, Mott MacDonald and WSP with standard terms and conditions.  A community of practice will bring designers and engineers from the four companies together to find solutions in key areas such as health and safety through design, value engineering and the use of more cost-effective design resources.

Customers will benefit from earlier engagement with a co-ordinated collaborative team and improved, consistent working practices which will ultimately reduce construction and programme costs.

The operation will be led by Balfour Beatty’s newly-appointed Strategic Design Consultant Partnership director, Robin Bashford. Robin will be responsible for implementing the Partnership working with the three design consultants to deliver increased value to customers. Prior to his appointment, Robin held a senior work winning role within Balfour Beatty’s Major Projects business and has been with the company since 2013.

Stephen Tarr, managing director for Balfour Beatty’s Major Projects business and executive committee sponsor for the Partnership, said “This newly formed Strategic Design Consultant Partnership represents collaboration in its purest form. Providing a new and refreshed way of working between contractor and designer, I am delighted to announce that we are joining together with Atkins, Mott MacDonald and WSP to deliver the very best of the industry’s ability and capability to provide a complete, refined and Expert offering to our customers.

“This Partnership will draw on decades of industry experience and combine it with the modern-day technological expertise of our engineers and designers to deliver a truly Lean, Expert, Trusted and Safe way of working together as an industry.”

Mike McNicholas, managing director of Atkins’ Infrastructure division, said: “Infrastructure investment continues to be a high priority for the UK, but clients couldn’t be clearer in their message to industry that we need to deliver it differently to provide better value and outcomes for them, their end users and those funding the projects. A greater use of technology is widely acknowledged as one way of doing this, but equally as important will be industry leading companies coming together to innovate and collaborate more effectively. This Partnership is an exciting step forward in achieving these goals.”

Stephen Lawrence, Mott MacDonald’s design partnership director, said: “Our collaboration with Balfour Beatty goes back nearly 35 years and we’re looking forward to building an even stronger working relationship. We’ve worked together to successfully deliver some of the UK’s most well-known infrastructure such as Heathrow T2B, A3 Hindhead and London Underground’s Jubilee Line Extension, and our joint venture Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald continues to provide service excellence in the highways maintenance industry.”

“This strategic partnership will provide access to our global network of experts to offer new ideas, drive value and efficiency into the design process and fully support their ‘Build to Last’ transformation programme,” Stephen added.

Alistair Kennedy, WSP’s executive director responsible for the new partnership, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Balfour Beatty as a strategic partner. Our two companies already work closely together across a wide spectrum of projects and WSP is excited to have the opportunity to be part of this innovative and collaborative approach. We look forward to working together to challenge the status quo for design build contracting in the UK.”

WSP engineers share experiences to mark International Women in Engineering Day

Katrina Speirs (far left) with other female engineers at WSP

Katrina Speirs (far left) with other female engineers at WSP

Three female engineers are sharing their experiences for International Women in Engineering Day in the hope that more women and girls will consider a career in the industry.

With 7000 employees across the UK, female engineers currently account for 27% of WSP’s workforce, which is above the national average of 9%.

Mhairi Hawksworth, 24, from Irvine, is a graduate engineer at the global professional consultancy and recently completed her Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) ambassador training.

Since joining the company’s graduate scheme, Mhairi has had the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects in the rail industry, including the design and build of the Edinburgh Gateway train station.

Mhairi Hawksworth – graduate engineer at WSP

Mhairi Hawksworth – graduate engineer at WSP

Mhairi said: “I was really lucky to have a lot of encouragement in science at school and because of this I went on to study for a Masters in civil engineering at Strathclyde University, where I was one of just six girls on the course.

“My role is extremely varied, especially working with the rail team where I do everything from outline design to construction support. Engineering can be seen as a very male-dominated industry, but I’ve yet to experience any negative treatment or discrimination and I’ve never felt like a minority in the workplace. Everywhere I’ve worked has been a very positive environment.

“We need to actively change females’ perception of STEM careers. There is a world of opportunity out there for young women and the industry is missing a lot of talent. The diversity of engineering is just incredible. Young women (and men) need to be shown that engineering is for everyone.”

Katrina Speirs, 33 from Glasgow joined WSP three years ago as an associate and has progressed to become an associate director within the fire engineering team.

She said: “As a fire engineer, I ensure that the design of a building, whether it’s a hospital, school or an office, allows for an evacuation should a fire occur. I work closely with a team of architects, contractors and developers to design strategies that protect people and property from the effects of fire and smoke.

“Engineering is a career that can take you all over the world, and at the same time, you can take pride in the fact that you are really making a difference.”

A director with the company, Julia Gilles, 47, attributes a solid network, hard-work and strong self-belief as key factors to being a successful woman in the engineering sector.

Julia said: “WSP are great to work for – they recognise that it’s about the skills that someone can bring to the role, not about the gender of that person.

“Being a mum and having a career in this industry can be challenging, so having an employer who recognises that is important. My advice to any woman looking to have a successful career in engineering is to establish a strong network, find a mentor who will support you and champion you within your firm and believe in yourself.”

Scotland’s first artificial wave park submitted for planning

The viewing platform

The viewing platform

The company behind plans for Scotland’s first artificial wave park has today submitted its formal planning application to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Wavegarden Scotland hopes to redevelop Craigpark Quarry near Ratho into a word-class surf and leisure facility offering a variety of water sports on its man-made loch.

Located beside the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Wavegarden Scotland’s proposal also includes self-catering luxury lodges, glamping pods, a waterfront café and restaurant, retail spaces, zip line, water tubing area, snow-sports area, and a car park.

The 23 hectare wave park has been masterplanned and designed by landscape architects HarrisonStevens, with engineering and technical consultation provided by WSP, and planning and development advice by Colliers International.

View of Wavegarden Scotland Cove looking west from the eastern ridge

View of Wavegarden Scotland Cove looking west from the eastern ridge

Wavegarden Scotland held two public consultations in February where over 260 people attended with more taking part online and via the company’s social media channels.

In an unprecedented scenario for a major application, zero objections were raised.

Andy Hadden, co-founder of Wavegarden Scotland, said: “We’re cautiously optimistic that our years of research, consultation and planning will pay off. We believe our facility will enhance Ratho as an international destination for adventure sports, and we’re delighted that we have the chance to deliver the project in a brownfield site within an old quarry.”

A new entrance path will open up access to the former quarry

A new entrance path will open up access to the former quarry

Wavegarden Scotland will be an ecologically responsible and diverse space for the surrounding communities and visiting public, with a large country park for walkers, runners and cyclists to enjoy. The proposal details how the former quarry site has guided the design, with extensive re-use of onsite materials and stone to capitalise on the natural character of the site, while carefully considered plant and landscaping choices will help restore the area’s original ecology which was lost during the former quarry’s operations.

The overall design will develop existing integrated transportation and leisure links, including with the nearby canal network, into the heart of Edinburgh as well as the wider central belt.

The Wavegarden Scotland masterplan

The Wavegarden Scotland masterplan

Using recently released, state-of-the-art wave generation technology called The Cove, Wavegarden Scotland will be among the most advanced surfing and water sport facilities in the world, with the capability to enable elite-level sports training and development.

Scott Brewster, co-founder of Wavegarden Scotland, said: “We are hopeful we’ll be able to open the doors to these world-class waves in the near future. The high-performance offering of our facility will cater for a number of different sports and we hope that Wavegarden Scotland will help future generations of water sportsmen and women take their skills to the next level.”

Glasgow employer WSP calls for UK government to create a Minister of Infrastructure

Professional services consulting firm WSP has delivered a white paper to the UK Government which outlines 10 measures to improve UK infrastructure, including a call for the creation of a cabinet member dedicated to infrastructure.

On the occasion of WSP’s global rebrand, its UK CEO, Mark Naysmith, has highlighted the importance of driving forward infrastructure projects in the UK in order to generate economic growth.

The company believes that there is a need for the Government to create a Minister of Infrastructure to improve and drive forward infrastructure projects across the UK.

Mark Naysmith

Mark Naysmith

Other countries such as Canada recently made the shift in creating the role to be able to cope with the ever growing demands in improving and creating new infrastructure.

WSP, which employs more than 7000 people in the UK, created the report in collaboration with the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) following an industry survey.

The survey found that 80 per cent thought that the public does not understand the role of infrastructure in enabling growth.

In order to improve infrastructure projects in the UK, WSP also makes the case for further devolution of fiscal powers to UK’s major cities. The company believes that an Infrastructure Minister would also help keep skills in the country by looking at long-term solutions.

WSP believes that cross-party understanding of infrastructure is vital in order for the UK to continue to prosper as infrastructure enables growth and drives the economy.

Frazer Mackay to head up WSP’s UK Energy and Industry business

Frazer Mackay

Frazer Mackay

WSP has appointed Frazer Mackay as the new UK managing director to its 750 strong Energy and Industry business.

Based in Glasgow, Frazer will sit on the UK Executive Committee and Leadership Team – reporting to UK chief executive officer Mark Naysmith.

With 28 years’ experience in both business operations and project delivery roles, Frazer joins from Costain where, as sector director for Oil and Gas he led a team of 500 energy experts and managed a $150M turnover. As part of this role, he successfully reorganized the Oil & Gas business in preparation for emerging market opportunities.

Previously, Frazer headed up Foster Wheeler’s Upstream Business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at which time he represented the global engineering business on the board of PM Group (Ireland) as a non-executive director.

A Chartered Engineer, he has successfully worked with blue chip clients such as Shell, BP, INEOS, ExxonMobil, Statoil, SABIC, Total, Valero, PRL and GSK, operating across several sectors including; water, upstream, oil and gas, refining, chemicals and petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

Mark Naysmith said: “Frazer’s track record in driving growth along with his strong background in strategic planning and project delivery is second to none across very relevant water, energy and process engineering sectors. I have great confidence in his ability to lead the team and strengthen and grow our Energy & Industry business in the UK, which includes our Water regulated division. We are thrilled to have him on board as we launch our new WSP global brand.”

Frazer Mackay added: “I’m delighted to be joining the team at WSP and I’m eagerly looking forward to working with my new customers, colleagues and stakeholders to both grow the Energy and Industry business and to help deliver WSP’s broader strategic objectives. I believe that two pillars to business success are customer focus and business planning, and that by concentrating on these areas we can achieve our ambitions going forward.”

WSP unveils new brand and UK restructure

wsp_4CGlobal professional services consultancy WSP has dropped Parsons Brinckerhoff from its name as it unveiled a new brand and logo that marking its “growth and transformation”.

The new brand celebrates the culture built on the coming together of over 85 companies in the last five years, with WSP growing to over 36,000 people globally and over 7,000 people in the UK.

Mouchel Consultingwhich was acquired in October 2016, and will become WSP in July when it is fully integrated with the wider business. Since January all WSP and Mouchel employees have been working under a new structure in the UK, headed by UK CEO Mark Naysmith, which comprises four strategic business units:

  • Transport & Infrastructure – managing director Steve Smith
  • Planning & Advisory – managing director Ian Liddell
  • Property & Buildings – managing director Kamran Moazami
  • Energy & Industry – managing director Frazer Mackay

Mark Naysmith said: “This is a historic moment in the history of our company. WSP has witnessed vast changes in recent years as we’ve grown by acquisition and strategic recruitment into a leading global consultancy. This is the right time to re- articulate our shared vision, and show how we differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.

“We’ve identified a strong core brand that unites us across cultures, clients and expertise, putting the emphasis on finding solutions to complex issues, taking accountability for projects in our local communities, and designing projects with the future firmly in mind. Our new UK structure reflects this unified vision and puts us on a firm platform for future growth.”

WSP and Mouchel currently provide technical expertise in the built and natural environment across the public and private sectors. The combined business has already won new projects by working together, including the Highways England Regional Investment Programme (RIP) Stages 3 and 4 (Transport and Infrastructure) and the Scotland Excel Framework (Transport and Infrastructure / Planning and Advisory / Property and Buildings).