Building Briefs – February 2nd

National Trust for Scotland launches Hill House ‘box’ appeal

The National Trust for Scotland has today kicked-off its urgent multi-million pound appeal to save the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed the Hill House in Helensburgh, one of the most ambitious and important fundraising drives in the conservation charity’s history.

During the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth this year, the National Trust for Scotland is planning to build a “box” around the iconic property whose sandstone structure is dissolving under its cement render. The box will shield the Hill House from the rain, allowing the building to dry out and for crucial conservation work to take place.

Supporting the launch of the “Box: The Hill House Appeal”, CYBG, owner of Clydesdale Bank, has donated the original printing plate used to produce its £100 note, which features Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The plate was used to print 200,000 notes, which entered circulation in 2009. The plate and a £100 specimen bank note have been mounted in a presentation frame and will be auctioned off later this year with all proceeds going towards the campaign.

This weekend, every National Trust for Scotland member will receive a letter asking them to support the appeal, the first time the conservation charity has rallied its entire membership for a single project. Anyone can back the appeal and donations can be made to save the Hill House at the Trust’s campaign page.

Ahead of the launch of the appeal, the Trust has already secured £3 million towards the construction of the box, however, another £1.5m is still required by the end of Spring 2018 to reach the overall target. Assembly of the box is expected to begin in June this year, protecting the property from another winter of snow, rain, wind, and bitterly cold temperatures.


Funding in place for transformational Inverness rail station upgrade 

Delegates attending a major rail conference have been told that funding for the first phase of a major refurbishment of Inverness railway station is in place and work should be under way by late summer of this year.

Progress on the “transformational” project was reported by Peter O’Connell, ScotRail’s head of commercial development, in a presentation to the annual rail conference staged by HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, in Inverness on Monday.

Mr O’Connell said early investment would see improvements to Station Square, with tender documents issued to prospective contractors in the Spring.

Later phases would involve major improvements to the two other station entrances – on Strothers Lane, leading to Inverness Bus Station, and on Falcon Square, leading to the Eastgate Shopping Centre. This work was earmarked for Spring of 2019.  He indicated that the total investment in the railway station, including improvements to the main concourse and new retail units, would be in the region of £6 million.


Creative lighting strategy agreed for Aberdeen

A creative lighting strategy and implementation plan has been approved by Aberdeen City Council.

Aberdeen in Colour, a City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) project, aims to help create a heart for a “global city” by illuminating the streetscape, landmarks, waterfronts and civic spaces in novel ways to add character and identity at night.

The strategy and implementation plan was drawn up by award-winning lighting design consultancy Steensen Varming.

As well as containing general design guidelines, it proposes individual schemes for the Castlegate; Union Street; Belmont Street; Langstane Place; Correction Wynd; Golden Square; Wellington and Victoria Bridges; the banks of the River Dee; St Nicholas Kirk; The Green; Donald’s Way; and Adelphi Lane.

The five-year implementation plan for the dozen schemes has been costed at £6.5 million.


Argyll Community Housing Association appoints new director of investment & regeneration

Kirsteen McGinn, director of investment & regeneration and Alastair MacGregor, chief executive

Kirsteen McGinn has joined Argyll Community Housing Association as director of investment & regeneration.

Kirsteen will have responsibility for the Association’s capital and repairs investment in its 5,150 homes and the 250 unit new build programme, as well as being a member of the senior management team.

Joining ACHA from Maryhill Housing Association in Glasgow, Kirsteen has previously worked at River Clyde Homes, Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association and Shettleston Housing Association. Kirsteen brings 20 years’ experience in the sector to her new role.

ACHA’s annual investment programme for capital works, repairs and new build amounts to £17 million.


Community spirit built at new East Kilbride council homes

Council officers are building community spirit as well as houses at a new development in East Kilbride.

The 16-home South Lanarkshire Council development at Rattray Drive, East Kilbride, was completed last summer and comprises a mix of four semi-detached houses and 12 cottage flats.

With generous space standards and high-quality kitchens and bathrooms, the new homes incorporate renewable technologies such as solar panels, ensuring energy efficient homes which are cheaper to run, benefitting both the environment and household budgets.

To help this work in building a new community, a welcome meeting for the residents at Rattray Drive was held at Blackbraes Hall, Calderwood, in December.

Hosted by Donald Gray, the meeting provided an opportunity for the new residents to get together as a new community as well as providing a range of information and advice on their new homes.

In addition, station manager Eddie Kelly from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service raised awareness on safety measures and fire prevention in the home and constable Emma Scott, from Police Scotland, ensured that residents were familiar with home security measures and crime prevention.

Housing staff from South Lanarkshire Council also encouraged tenant participation and empowered residents to be part of the overall continuous development and management of their new community, and were delighted to receive feedback from residents that they were very happy with both the welcome meeting and the quality of their new homes.


Stirling most affordable city in UK to buy a home

Stirling is the most affordable city in the whole of the UK, while Perth has seen the biggest improvement in terms of home affordability in Scotland over the last five years, according to the latest Bank of Scotland research.

The research showed that Stirling is the most affordable city in the whole of the UK when comparing average house price to average wages. The average house price in Stirling is now £186,084, which is 4.03 times local average earnings. This is below the overall average ratio in Scotland of 5.35 and the UK average of 7.20.

The average house price in Perth has risen by 11 per cent to £181,329 in the last five years, lower than the average of all other Scottish cities which increased by 23 per cent to £190,250).

This also means that Perth is the only city in Scotland where homes are more affordable than they were five years ago, improving from 5.5 times the average yearly salary to 5.44. Perth also had the biggest improvement in home affordability over the last 12 months (5.80 to 5.44).

The average house price in Glasgow has increased by 35 per cent in the last five years, faster than any other Scottish city. In 2012, the average house price was £128,733, rising to £173,990 in 2017. Glasgow has also seen the steepest decline in home affordability in the last five years (4.27 to 5.50 times average earnings).

The average house price across all Scottish cities increased by 1.8 per cent, from £186,827 in 2016 to £190,250 in 2017.

Comparatively, average earnings increased by 2 per cent, resulting in average home affordability improving very slightly in the last 12 months from 5.36 to 5.35 times average earnings.

Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth all saw an improvement in average home affordability over the past year with a slight decline for Aberdeen. Inverness, Glasgow and Stirling also saw a decline but still feature in the top 20 most affordable UK cities. In fact, Stirling ranked as the most affordable city in the whole of the UK for the fifth consecutive year.

In the last five years, the average house price in the UK has increased by 45 per cent to £255,183, compared to 23 per cent for the average house price in Scottish cities.

Average house prices in all Scottish cities are now lower than the UK average, compared to 2012 when Aberdeen was 0.2 per cent higher and Edinburgh was 10 per cent higher.

Stirling (4.03), Londonderry in Northern Ireland (4.1) and Bradford (4.5) are the top three cities in the UK in terms of affordability. Dundee (5.4), Perth (5.4), Glasgow (5.5) and Inverness (5.6) also appear in the top twenty most affordable cities in the UK. Oxford is named as the least affordable city in the UK with an average house price to earnings ratio of 11.5.