Building Briefs – August 16th

Moray solar farmPlanning permission granted for Scotland’s largest solar farm

Planning permission for a solar farm near Urquhart has been granted.

Councillors approved Elgin Energy’s development of the 47-hectare Speyslaw site, which could see around 80,000 solar panels installed, along with a substation, 20 invertor stations and a CCTV camera system, all bound by a two-and-a-half metre high deer fence.

All cabling will be underground, meaning sheep will be able to graze around the panels, and no trees, hedges or woodland will be removed or altered. However, additional planting has been proposed.

Permission for the solar farm is valid for 30 years, from the first time energy is exported from the site. After the permission has expired, the developer will have one year to decommission the works and restore the site to a condition agreed with the council.

Among the conditions attached to the planning permission is the submission of regular reports to the council on the energy generated by the solar farm. And, before works begin, the council is to approve the make and model of the solar panels to be used, as well as a draft decommissioning and restoration plan, to make sure there is no lasting negative environmental impact.

A Habit Management Plan will also be approved by the council before works can begin.


Aberdeen’s ground-breaking £18.5m school all set for new term

Orchard Brae SchoolAberdeen’s newest school opened its doors yesterday for an advance look at its fantastic facilities ahead of the new term which begins next week.

The £18.5 million Centre of Excellence, Orchard Brae School is the first of its kind in Scotland and will be a hub for best practice in supporting pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN).from across Aberdeen.

As well as functioning as a school, Orchard Brae will act as a community hub for families, ASN parents / groups and charities to access, as well as a hub for outreach services such as speech and language and autism support.

The innovative development will also provide a new resource centre for ASN teaching and training and a multi-agency facility for health, education, social work and family support.

Orchard Brae school boasts a swimming pool, a hydrotherapy pool, soft play and sensory rooms, Wildlife and growing gardens and specialist art and home economic areas as well as specially designed play areas.

Adjoining the school is the pioneering Howes Hoose which supports pupils to learn about independent living, with a bedroom, kitchen and living space where the children can develop life skills in a home setting.


Doors open at new Borders primary schools

New primary schools in Duns and Langlee have welcomed pupils for the first time today.

The schools will provide modern facilities for both children and staff to learn and teach in, following the completion of both projects this summer.

The £10 million Langlee school includes 14 classrooms, sports hall, outdoor MUGA sports pitch, a centre for children with severe and complex additional needs and provision for early learning and childcare.

The facility, built by contractors McLaughlin & Harvey, was opened by Scottish Borders Council’s leader, Councillor Shona Haslam, and pupils Taylor Patterson (Langlee Lass), Danny Lindores (Langlee Lad), Corey Murray and Taylor Harkness, alongside Marion Romeril, the longest serving teacher at Langlee.

The new school replaces the old building, which has been in use since 1958 and is now being carefully demolished.

At Duns, birthday girl Abbie Armstrong and fellow pupil Harris Gordon opened the £8.6m facility alongside executive member for children and young people, Councillor Carol Hamilton and headteacher Leanne Stewart.

The project has seen the school relocated into the former High School building, which will also be the new home of the Berwickshire Locality Support Centre.

It has been delivered alongside development partner hub South East Scotland, with Graham Construction contracted to build Duns Primary.


Brighter future for Lossie landmark

BraelossieCouncillors have kick-started the process to take ownership of one the most iconic buildings in Lossiemouth, which has lain empty for 20 years.

Braelossie is a large residential building on Prospect Terrace, which was converted into two flats.

Fire ripped through the abandoned property in 2015, which has been also targeted by vandals and is on Scotland’s Buildings at Risk Register. Moray Council’s building standards officers have secured the building on several occasions, including after the fire.

Now a report will be sent to full council, which will decide whether to proceed with a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), allowing for the property to be sold and brought back into residential use.

Members of the council’s planning committee were told that a number of people have previously contacted the council, interested in buying the property in its current state.

Full costings associated with a CPO will now be calculated and reported back to the council, before any further action is taken.


New £44m facility opens at GSK Montrose

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed GSK’s (GlaxoSmithKline) commitment to Montrose as she opened its new £44 million aluminium salts facility.

The site produces ingredients for vaccines for illnesses including tetanus, pneumonia and whooping cough.

The opening of the new facility follows GSK’s recent announcement of a further £29 million investment to support the manufacture of medicines for respiratory illnesses at Montrose, bringing the overall investment in new manufacturing in Montrose and its antibiotics operation at Irvine to nearly £342 million since 2012.


Hawick Flood Protection Scheme update

Hawick Flood Protection Scheme’s project team will host a public meeting this month to discuss the scheme.

The meeting on Thursday 31 August at 7pm in Hawick Town Hall is open to all and will see the project team provide an update and host a question and answer session.

The project team will also hold site walks for the public on Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 August, at 6.30pm each night.

The site walk on 29 August will provide a tour of Lawson Bridge to Victoria Bridge stretch of the river, while the 30 August walk will tour the river from Mart Street Bridge to Mansfield Bridge.

These evenings are intended to allow the project team to clarify the proposed Scheme to the public and to gain further insight into the views of the Hawick people about the project, which would protect over 900 properties against a 1 in 75 year flood event.


Edinburgh’s Lord Provost opens new Manor Estates development

Lord Provost Councillor Frank Ross (left) and Manor Estates Housing Association chairman Nigel Hicks officially open Sandilands Close
Lord Provost Councillor Frank Ross (left) and Manor Estates Housing Association chairman Nigel Hicks officially open Sandilands Close

Edinburgh’s new Lord Provost, Councillor Frank Ross, was involved in some tree planting at an event officially opening Manor Estates Housing Association’s new £15 million development.

The 128-unit Sandilands Close development built in three distinct phases consists of 48 homes for social rent and 78 for mid-market letting.

Funded by CEC to the tune of £4.997m, and with private finance of £9m being provided by Santander, this mixed tenure development helps in part to address Edinburgh’s acute and growing housing shortage, where on average there are 158 bids for each council or RSL property becoming available for let.

Constructed by Persimmon Homes (East of Scotland), and with development services being provided by Dunedin Canmore Housing Association, the completion of these homes means that the Manor Estates Group now owns and manages 1100 homes throughout Edinburgh and Fife.


Atrium Homes provides housing boost for New Farm Loch

Kilmarnock-based registered social landlord Atrium Homes has completed work on the remodelling of three 3-bedroom maisonettes to create six new 1-bedroom flats in Russell Court.

The near £0.5 million investment, delivered by Keepmoat and supported by over £250,000 of funding from the Scottish Government, enabled the local landlord to provide its first 1-bedroom flatted accommodation for let in New Farm Loch which proved to be very popular with applicants.

The level of work carried out internally is extensive, whilst externally the properties have been well insulated to make them easy and cheap to heat.

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