Building Briefs – October 11th

House of Fraser buys ‘Harrods of the North’ for £95m

House of Fraser today vowed to create the ‘Harrods of the North’ after announcing a £95 million deal to acquire the freehold of the iconic Frasers building in Glasgow.

The listed building extends to circa 350,000 sq ft arranged over multiple floors with a strong luxury brand presence including Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Prada and Gucci.

Kevin Sims of CBRE, who represented House of Fraser during the acquisition, added: “This is a fantastic deal for Glasgow and Scotland. It is an iconic store and much of the success of Buchanan Street over the last 20 years has been built around having Frasers as an important anchor tenant for the street. This fully cements House of Fraser’s intent to create a luxury department store business.”

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, added: “Glasgow is the country’s number one retail centre after London – and the House of Fraser store on Buchanan Street is a city institution, much loved by generations of Glaswegians. A major investment on this kind of scale is a clear vote of confidence in Glasgow; and credit must also go to hundreds of Fraser’s staff, who are absolutely integral to the business’ success and its enduring popularity with city shoppers.

“With the future of this iconic retailer’s Glasgow presence secured, we look forward to the new owners building on its cherished relationship with shoppers and reputation as a valued city employer for almost 170 years.”


Work starting on Drumpellier Country Park visitor centre upgrade

The visitor centre at Drumpellier Country Park will close on 22 October for refurbishment as part of its role as a gateway to the Seven Lochs Wetland Park.

The centre will be refurbished and extended to create a new viewing area over the loch, with displays telling the story of the park and the Seven Lochs project.

Accessible toilets will be installed, more spaces created in the main loch-side car park and information points around the park are being developed.

This work is part of a £6.8 million project to develop the Seven Lochs Wetland Park, Scotland’s largest urban nature park, which stretches from Hogganfield in the west to Drumpellier and Gartcosh in the east. From 2016 to 2021, the Seven Lochs Heritage Project aims to improve and protect the area’s heritage buildings, wildlife habitat and archaeology to create a new attraction of national significance.

As a Gateway to the park, Drumpellier Country Park will be a hub for heritage conservation, learning and engagement.

The visitor centre will reopen in Spring 2019.


Scottish social housing tender prices steady during second quarter

Tender prices for social housing in Scotland steadied in the second quarter of the year after falling in the previous quarter, according to new statistics.

Provisional results for the Scottish Social Housing Tender Price Index (SSHTPI) for 2Q2018 indicate that tender prices for social housing schemes fell slightly on 1Q2018 and are nearly 2% down on the same quarter a year earlier.

The fall in prices reflects a slowdown in output in the Scottish construction sector. While total new work output rose 2% in the latest quarter, it was still down 19% on 2Q2018.

The SSHTPI is prepared by BCIS for the Scottish Government’s More Homes Division. It offers a guide to the movement in prices in social housing schemes in Scotland and is used to update the Housing Tender Return indicative cost calculation.

The SSHTPI is based on comparing the prices for the construction of houses in current schemes with cost models of dwellings of different types (terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, and flats in different block configurations); occupancy (numbers of bedrooms and occupants), and size (floor area). These are adjusted for specification and design differences to provide a project tender price index. The project indices are adjusted for location and size of project.

The quarterly index is calculated by averaging the adjusted project indices in each quarter. It is smoothed to take account of the variation in the sample sizes.


Fair Isle celebrates 24 hours power for first time

A new renewable energy system on Fair Isle will go live today as the community celebrates reliable 24 hours power for the first time.

The new island wide high voltage network is being delivered by an innovative renewables system combining three turbines, a ground mounted solar system and a battery storage– underpinning a range of social and economic opportunities for islanders.

The £3.5 million project, which is being led by community group Fair Isle Electricity Company (FIEC), secured funding from a wide range of organisations, including £250,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The community will celebrate the launch of the new electricity scheme today.

The community has long recognised the importance of developing the infrastructure to sustain and grow its population of 55 people and help transform life on the island.

The three-mile long island has used a combination of wind and diesel power since the 1980s with two turbines provided the service to the island between 7.30am to 11.30pm every day.

Three new 60kW wind turbines have been installed on the remote island as well as a 50kW solar array and battery storage while a high voltage network has been extended across the island.

Last year, the company was successfully awarded support of over £1m for the project through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme’s (LCITP).

LCITP is supported through the European Regional Development Fund and is a partnership programme led by the Scottish Government, with support from HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and other sector specialists such as Resource Efficient Scotland.

The battery storage will hold 50 hours of power for the island.

The Fair Isle electricity scheme has secured full match funding for the project from many partners including Big Lottery, Shetland Islands Council, National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Water, Fair Isle Electricity Company and Fair Isle Bird Observatory.


New lit fountain switched on to mark the final part of £3.2m Aberdeen street revamp

A new fountain with feature lights was switched on this week to mark the final part of a major refurbishment to Broad Street in the heart of Aberdeen’s city centre.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesman, Councillor Ross Grant, was joined by Andy Mulholland, Sustrans’ head of design and engineering for Scotland, and Steve Turner from Muse Developments for the event on the pedestrian-priority road.

The £3.2 million City Centre Masterplan project has transformed and revitalised the street by making it a pedestrian-orientated space, improving the streetscape, and turning it into an area capable of staging events throughout the year. The road re-opened to the only permitted traffic – local timetabled buses and cyclists - two months ago.

The design for Broad Street includes the illuminated fountains, trees and benches, improved lighting, and a raised grass area offering flexible event space in front of Marischal College, and it also includes a paved roundel - a mini-roundabout – where Upperkirkgate and Gallowgate meet. The cost of the work is being covered by Aberdeen City Council’s City Centre Masterplan budget, Marischal Square developer Muse, and Sustrans Scotland.

The design as part of the multi-million-pound 25-year City Centre Masterplan which had overwhelming feedback from the public was to have more pedestrian-friendly areas in the city, and more green travel which Broad Street is helping deliver.


Argyll and Bute Council leader welcomes tourism fund

The leader of Argyll and Bute Council has welcomed news that just over £500,000 of funding has been allocated to the region for three projects supporting the growing tourism sector.

The projects that have been allocated funding are:

  • Fionnphort and Craignure Car Park Improvements – awarded £106,005 to upgrade Columba Centre car park at Fionnphort to provide space for campervans and dedicated disabled parking and provide 40 new spaces at Craignure car park.
  • Bruichladdich - Port Charlotte Pathway - awarded (subject to conditions) £300,000 to provide a pathway, accessible for all - to link the accommodation and tourism businesses in Port Charlotte with the Bruichladdich businesses and Distillery to provide a safe route for non-vehicle traffic.
  • Tiree Turf and Surf – awarded £131,366 (subject to conditions) to provide an additional 95 car parking spaces, better access links between parking areas and beaches and signage to accommodate the increase in visitor numbers and protect the machair landscape.

The council also welcomed news of £260,000 for a project, applied for by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, which will bring a package of improvements to relieve visitor pressure at Luss. It will redirect toilet stop traffic to locations further up the west of Loch Lomond at Tarbet and Inveruglas as well as improvements to the toilets at Luss to increase accessibility.

The £6m fund is directed specifically at rural areas across Scotland and excludes towns and larger villages. Applications must be submitted by a local authority or a National Park, but they must demonstrate a collaborative approach with the community and tourism groups.

Awards of between £50,000 and £300,000 are available and funding of up to 70% can be given. Applicants must provide some form of match or in kind funding, from public or private sector or community groups.

There is a second round of funding which has a deadline of October 2018 for expressions of interest. This is a Scottish Government fund administered by VisitScotland.


Road closure to allow Gourock bridge repairs

A major route through Gourock is to be partially closed for at least seven weeks to allow essential bridge repairs to take place.

Inverclyde Council is carrying out work to remove and replace the waterproofing membrane on the Cardwell Road bridge over the Gourock to Glasgow train line.

Repairs will also be carried out to the existing concrete bridge deck and new kerbs and pavements installed on the stretch between Caledonia Crescent and Caledonia Gardens.

From October 15 a partial lane closure will be in place managed by a 3-way set of temporary traffic lights.


Engineers carry out work to improve rural roads in Aberdeenshire

Engineers in Aberdeenshire are currently carrying out work to improve rural roads in the area.

Rural roads are being improved across Deeside and Donside, partly paid for using a national fund made available for work on routes used by timber lorries.

Eight roads across the Marr area are benefitting from a project which aims to create sustainable routes for current and future timber traffic operations.

This is being done by strengthening carriageways and road edges, creating passing places and improving bends and drainage, with all work to be completed by February.

As well as increasing the capacity of the road network to carry timber transport vehicles, the tougher infrastructure also reduces maintenance and repair requirements due to slowed deterioration.

Aberdeenshire Council is combining its own roads improvement and maintenance budget for the area with funds from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

Marr roads engineers made a successful application to its Strategic Timber Transport Scheme (STTS), proposing various improvements to the capacity of the road network.

In total, around £1.5million will be spent - £630,517 from Aberdeenshire Council budgets and the remainder from FCS, up to a total of £944,827.


Improvement work on Dundee play area complete

Work to improve a play area in Dundee has been completed.

A total of £400,000 was invested in the play area at Camperdown Country Park.

The former boating pond at the park has been filled in and transformed into a large inclusive place to play based around a boat-shaped structure, reminiscent of ‘the Galleons’ which were removed in 2001.

Additional play equipment and landscaping, which includes a wheelchair inclusive boardwalk and planting have been introduced. The play area has been resurfaced using sand, bark and grass.