Building Briefs - November 19th

  • Councillors approve over £4.786m investment in Inverness housing

Members of Highland Council’s city of Inverness area committee have agreed a proposed £4,786,000 investment in council housing for 2021-22.

The one-year Inverness Area Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Capital Programme is part of the Highland wide HRA Capital Plan for 2021-22 which will see over £15 million invested in improving the housing stock across the region.

Provost of Inverness and area Cllr Helen Carmichael welcomed the programme for Inverness which includes kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors replacements, and structural work to roofs, chimneys and the external fabric of properties, with allowance for environmental improvement works and continued funding of equipment and adaptations to allow disabled and elderly tenants to remain in current tenancies.

A specific priority of the programme approved by members is improving heating and making homes more energy efficient, with over £2,000,000 of budget approved to replace the oldest and most inefficient heating systems and a further £400,000 for one-off heating replacements. In addition, £300,000 is provisioned for energy efficiency measures on Swedish Timber properties.

These priorities reflect the commitment towards improving the energy efficiency of council housing stock in line with the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH).  

Projects will be progressed as soon as possible in line with government guidance, ensuring the safety of tenants. Progress against current and future programmes will be reported to the next area committee and members will continue to be updated through ward business meeting updates.


  • Contract to strengthen White Cart bridge

A crumbling bridge over the White Cart river will be brought back to life after councillors agreed to award a contract for strengthening works.

The Paisley footbridge - which connects Abercorn Street with Carlile Place - has been closed to the public for almost 25 years after structural issues were identified back in 1996.

But elected members on Renfrewshire Council’s finance, resources and customer services board awarded a six-figure contract to W I & A Gilbert Ltd to bring it back into use.

The £363,683 cost of the works will be fully funded by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Sustrans.

Council documents state it is anticipated works will begin at the start of next month, with completion expected by the end of March.


  • Plans submitted for Renfrewshire’s first pet crematorium

Proposals for Renfrewshire’s first pet crematorium are set to be considered.

Beloved Pet Funeral Care is hoping to transform an industrial unit at 142 Abercorn Street in Paisley into a place where people can say a “private farewell” to their deceased pets.

It is the second proposal of its type to be lodged in as many years, after a separate applicant withdrew plans to base a crematorium in Napier Street, Linwood, last year.


  • Inverness councillors approve public consultation on Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan review

Members of the Highland Council’s City of Inverness area committee have approved a report that will go out to public consultation in the new year (2021) marking the first stage of reviewing the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan.

Following approval by all relevant council area committees which conclude in December the ‘Main Issues Report’ for the plan will be prepared for a minimum 8-week public consultation when interested parties will be encouraged to have their say.

In light of Scottish Government COVID-19 advice which is likely to limit face-to-face consultation events, the vouncil is designing an easy to use online document to gather people’s views. The Council will promote the consultation widely including sending out letters to notify people of the consultation and how they can comment.


  • Edinburgh the only UK city to see 2020 office take-up increase

According to the latest research from Savills, take-up in Edinburgh city centre in the first three quarters of 2020 totalled 395,585 sq ft.

This was almost 30% up on the same period last year, albeit take-up has been fundamentally underpinned by the 280,000 sq ft pre-let at M&G’s Haymarket that completed in Q3. As a result, despite the number of deals recorded in Edinburgh in 2020 (Q1-Q3) being less than half that of 2019, Edinburgh is the only UK regional office market that has seen take-up in Q1-Q3 2020 exceed that of 2019.

Savills says that between Q1-Q3 2020 the Insurance and Financial Services sector accounted for over 75% of Edinburgh’s office take-up with other notable deals including: Cadence taking 8,500 sq ft of Grade A space at 40 Princess Street; Forecast Financial committing to 4,300 sq ft at Nova House; and Handelsbanken signing on 3,600 sq ft at Waverly Gate.

Supply of Grade A/ B accommodation in Edinburgh city centre remains limited, at just 647,000 sq ft, of which 396,000 sq ft is Grade A.

The firm reports prime Grade A rents are in excess of £35.50 per sq ft.

Office investment in Edinburgh totalled £210 million between Q1-Q3 2020, which Savills reports is slightly ahead of the long term average for this period (£205m). The firm says 85% of this investment came from overseas investors, demonstrating strong international confidence in both Edinburgh’s office market and wider economy.


  • Crematoria firm has plans for new facility in East Lothian

An independent owner of crematoria and cemeteries plans to build a new facility in East Lothian, close to its boundary with Edinburgh.

Westerleigh Group, which has 34 sites nationwide, including three in Scotland, has submitted a Proposal of Application Notice to East Lothian Council to build a crematorium on land just off the A1.

It will now begin the consultation process by engaging key stakeholders and members of the public, with a view to submitting a formal planning application in due course.

The proposed site is on the opposite side of the carriageway from the Musselburgh Service Area, close to the junction of the A1 with the City of Edinburgh Bypass, at Old Craighall.

The 12-acre site would include a chapel, parking and a landscaped garden of remembrance. It is expected to accommodate an average of five or six services a day.