Building Briefs – June 18th

  • Wedding venue secures funding from Barclays to aid expansion

Springkell House, a country house based in Dumfries & Galloway, has secured funding from Barclays to help with the redevelopment and expansion of the venue’s hotel facilities.

Image courtesy of Duncan Ireland Photography

The £650,000 funding package will allow the owners to redevelop the quadrangle annex, adding an additional six en suite bedrooms and increasing capacity to 26 guest rooms. Situated near Gretna Green, the venue hosts around 50 weddings each year as well as private parties, exclusive use events, and offers dinner, bed & breakfast. 

Springkell has been owned by the Johnson-Ferguson family since 1894, having been passed to Hon. Lady Johnson-Ferguson in 1953 and now to her great grandson James, who has owned the house since 2009.

The property was re-opened for accommodation and events in 2013 following a substantial refurbishment programme and the owners are now looking to build on its success with further expansion. 


  • NHBC honours Cambuslang site manager in annual Health and Safety Awards

NHBC has named Alan Murphy of Dawn Homes in the first round of its 2019 Health and Safety Awards for site managers who exceed health and safety standards.

This year, 52 site managers across the UK have been awarded Commended status and will go on to compete for the national awards in July. Site managers are pivotal to the success of a site and for ten years NHBC has been recognising and rewarding those who go above expectations.

Site managers who demonstrate commitment to improve health and safety standards on their sites are ultimately pushing up safety standards across the industry.

The Commended Winners will compete for the Highly Commended and National titles, to be announced at a Gala Awards evening in Birmingham on 5 July 2019, hosted by comedian Hugh Dennis.


  • New CEO takes the helm at Albyn Group

Albyn Group has appointed established Highland businesswoman and third sector specialist, Lisa Buchanan, as chief executive officer (CEO).

Lisa Buchanan

The move follows the departure of long-serving chief executive, Calum Macaulay, who announced his decision to leave the organisation in March after more than 20 years in post. It also comes at a time of change for the board, which has just named Highland councillor and businesswoman, Maxine Smith, and Albyn tenant and retired businessman, Ian Fosbrooke, as joint-chair.

Edinburgh-born and raised in the Highlands, Lisa joins the society from Buchanan Shaw Consulting where she is a partner specialising in advising third sector organisations and SMEs on organisational development.

Previously, she spent several years with Northern Constabulary as strategic diversity adviser before joining Cantraybridge College, where she held the position of CEO for five years. She also spent a short period as manager of people and culture at Parklands Care Homes prior to taking maternity leave following the birth of her son.

Lisa’s excellent calibre as a leader in Scotland’s third sector landscape has been acknowledged on several occasions. These include a shortlisting for the Institute of Directors’ Third Sector Director of the Year award, and a nomination as Scottish Social Enterprise Champion of the Year.

Lisa also gained non-executive experience in governance as a board member at North Highland College UHI.

A life-long learner, Lisa recently completed an MBA with distinction from Strathclyde Business School.


  • Aberdeenshire Council takes ownership of new homes for rent

Inverurie, Oldmeldrum and Peterhead are the latest communities to benefit from Aberdeenshire Council’s new-build housing strategy, with 63 new homes reaching completion between the three developments.

A total of 26 flats and houses at Meadowside, Oldmeldrum, and 31 flats and houses at Clerkhill, Peterhead, have been handed over to the council by CHAP Construction, while 6 one and two-bed flats at North Street, Inverurie, have been provided by Bancon Homes.

All the properties are for rent, with tenants already living in some of them. Several of the homes have been specifically adapted for tenants with physical disabilities.

The Oldmeldrum and Peterhead developments were designed by the council, while the ‘design and build’ project at Inverurie was part of a developer contribution arrangement towards affordable housing.

The new properties formed part of the sixth phase of the council’s new-build housing programme, which saw a total of 151 new homes built across 11 sites over the past year.

The projects represent an investment of approaching £11 million across the three towns and were supported by Scottish Government funding.


  • Household numbers continue to rise as more people live alone

The number of households in Scotland has continued to increase to 2.48 million in 2018, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

‘Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland, 2018’ shows that over the last ten years the number of households in Scotland has grown by around 139,000 (6%).

More than a third of households are single person households, and an estimated 885,000 people are living alone (Scottish Household Survey 2017, figure in above image).

The growth in households has partly been attributed to the rising population, but also because people are increasingly living alone, or with fewer other people. Households consisting of only one person have been the most common type in Scotland since 2010.

The number of households has increased in every council area over the last ten years, with the greatest relative increases occurring in Midlothian (16%) and the Orkney Islands (13%).

According to the estimates published today, there were 2.62 million dwellings in Scotland in 2018. A total of 83,400 dwellings (3% cent of all dwellings) were empty, including 39,300 classified as long-term (more than six months) empty and 44,100 as unoccupied exemptions (such as new homes yet to be occupied and dwellings undergoing repair or awaiting demolition). A further 1% (25,000) of dwellings were second homes.

Empty and second homes are concentrated in different parts of the country. For example, remote rural areas have a higher percentage of empty and second homes than urban areas.


  • Government homeownership schemes have helped 30,000 households get on property ladder

More than 30,000 households have been helped to buy their home through Scottish Government support schemes since 2007.

Figures published today show that the majority of these purchasers were first-time buyers and young people, who often struggle to get into the property market. Just over a third were families with children.

This has been achieved through the Scottish Government’s two homeownership schemes – Help to Buy (Scotland) and the Low Cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT).

The Help to Buy scheme offers an interest-free equity contribution of up to 15% against the value of a new build home.

The Low Cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) allows those new to the property market to buy a home without having to fund its entire cost, by providing an interest free equity contribution of up to 40% against its value.

The Scottish Government has invested over £1.2 billion in Help to Buy and LIFT, and has exceeded its commitment in 2017 to support up to 3,500 households into affordable home ownership, including approximately 2,500 first-time buyers.