Building Briefs – December 16th

Artist’s impression of the latest phase of the Kincardine redevelopment
Artist’s impression of the latest phase of the Kincardine redevelopment

Kingdom completes affordable homes in Kincardine with more in the pipeline

Kingdom Housing Association last week completed 10 two and three bedroom homes in Kincardine as part of an ongoing redevelopment project which has seen the demolition of three blocks of high-rise flats

The new homes have been allocated for mid market rent and their completion marks a further £1.6 million investment in the housing project which included around £500,000 grant subsidy from the Scottish Government and Fife Council.

Another 6 one bed homes, for social rent, are due to be completed early next year and Kingdom is currently consulting with the community on the final phase of the redevelopment which will provide a further 49 new homes, to meet a range of tenures, including; Shared Equity, Mid Market Rent, Self Build Plots and Private Housing for Sale.

Kingdom Housing Association has been working on the Kincardine redevelopment project since 2007 when Fife Council took the final decision to demolish the high rise blocks of flats.

During this period, Kingdom has worked with the council, tenants, residents, key partners and the local community to develop and implement the master plan for the area.

The redevelopment project has seen the demolition of the flats and the provision of 65 new social rented homes to meet the needs of tenants who previously lived in the high flats.

The project has also delivered a number of community benefits initiatives, including projects with the local school, training and employment opportunities, a public park area and community art, where an art trail, incorporating seven art installations to celebrate Kincardine’s history, has been provided.


Port of Leith Housing Association welcomes new homes

Newhaven Road LR

The second development built solely for mid market rent (MMR) by Port of Leith Housing Association (PoLHA), and its subsidiary company Persevere Developments Limited (PDL), has welcomed new residents.

Eight households have moved in to a block of new, high-quality properties in Flaxmill Place, Newhaven.

The £956,000 development, compromising two bedroom properties, is part of a larger scheme currently being built by Barratt East Scotland which already accommodates eight flats for social rent for Port of Leith Housing Association.

The development was funded by a combination of private finance raised by PoLHA and a Government grant allocated by the City of Edinburgh Council.

PoLHA has built the mid market rent homes on behalf of its wholly owned subsidiary company PDL which was set up in 2011 to enable the Association to offer a wider variety of affordable housing in future.


North Ayrshire Council agrees £1.4m of capital investment

North Ayrshire Council has pledged an additional £1.4 million to support the its capital investment programme as its three-year budget was set last week.

The council will deliver more than £19m of revenue budget efficiencies over the next three years, comprising £4.421m in the coming year 2015/16; £5.987m in 2016/17 and £9.036m in 2017/18.

New skills centres for engineering and construction will be created in partnership with the private sector, while further investment will see improvements to accommodation at Irvine Royal Academy – Scotland’s first Skills Centre of Excellence.


Tay Road Bridge maintenance jobs to be cut

Maintenance jobs on the Tay Road Bridge are to be cut as a result of restructuring and workers are being offered voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

The Tay Road Bridge Joint Board approved a scheme to make offers to reduce the number of maintenance staff from 12 to nine to make efficiency savings.

The main ways the cuts will be made include outsourcing a safety boat and changes to bridge inspections.

In his report, bridge manager Alan Hutchison said early pension payments would be met through the salary savings gained.

Members of the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board, which is made up of cross-party representatives from Fife, Angus and Dundee City councils, approved the voluntary early redundancy/early retirement plans yesterday.

The next step will see the bridge manager approach all employees in the maintenance section for whom this could be an option and they will have two weeks to respond.


Contractor named to deliver phase one of Oban public realm improvements

Argyll and Bute Council has appointed Raynesway Construction to deliver around £600,000 of public realm improvements along Stafford Street from January to May 2015.

The civil engineering firm has delivered a number of high-value and complex projects recently, such as the High Mill and Victoria Park Primary School for South Lanarkshire Council, the Underwood Road recycling facility for Renfrewshire Council and the A82 Strathleven improvements.

Now that the contractor is in place, initial meetings have been set up for this week to formalise the plans for moving the project forward – setting up the site office, arranging start-up meetings for local traders and preparing to issue orders for materials straight after New Year.

The plan at this stage is for the site office to be set up by Monday 19th January and meetings with traders along Stafford Street to go ahead on Wednesday 14th or Thursday 15th January. These meetings will introduce key members of the construction team to local businesses who will then discuss the proposed phasing of works and how best to minimise disruption during the construction stage.

A project start up event is also planned for mid-January, introducing the programme of works to members of the public, giving an overview of the arrangements, the scope of work and the timescales. More details of this will follow, once arrangements are made.

The improvements to Stafford Street will provide the people of Oban with a terraced space to sit, relax and view the bay; a flexible open area (with power and Wi-Fi) for small scale events and a shelter with inlaid artwork and ornamental colour changing LED lighting.


Property sales across East Central Scotland continue to boom

Latest figures released by ESPC show that activity in the property market in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife has continued to strengthen as 2014 draws to a close.

Between September and November the number of sales recorded by ESPC rose by 19 per cent on an annual basis bringing sales to their highest level for the period since 2007. It is the market for upper-mid market that has seen the greatest rise in demand, with sales of homes in the £300,000-399,999 bracket rising by 33 per cent annually.

By contrast, sales of properties at under £100,000 rose by a modest 1 per cent compared to the same period a year ago.

The supply of properties to the market has also improved, with new instructions through ESPC up by 13 per cent year-on-year. Interestingly, in recent weeks there has been a particularly noteable rise in the number of higher value homes coming onto the market following the announcement of the proposed bands for Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) which will replace Stamp Duty from April 2015. During November itself the number of new instructions with an asking price of £325,000 rose by more than 92 per cent annually.


Boutique hotel plan for listed Montrose ex-linen mill

A listed Angus building could be turned into a 60-room boutique hotel.

The deteriorating façade of Paton’s Mill in Montrose has crumbled since 1989, following 170 years of weaving linen and making rope.

Dundee firm George Martin Builders has now applied to build a hotel while retaining elements of the mill that face on to the town’s conservation area.

Its application should be decided by February 1 although the matter may be referred to Angus Council’s development standards committee for determination.

The B-listed mill, also known as the Chapel Works or bond, faces on to the town’s Mid Links and is now rated as an old industrial building under risk.

The proposals comprise a 60-room hotel development with the retention of the existing eastern facade.


Plan lodged to expand Inverness retail park

Developers have claimed proposals to expand a busy Inverness shopping park will create about 140 new jobs.

A planning application has been lodged to revamp the southern end of the Inshes Retail Park.

The scheme includes the demolition of the disused Blockbuster Video store and also the Harry Ramsden’s chip shop.

In their place, a drive-through restaurant and two large shops would be built.

Corran Properties, which has submitted the application on behalf of the landowners, said that more than 140 retail jobs would be created, with scores of construction jobs.

It is hoped that building work could start in the summer, with completion by early 2016.

The application is in the name of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership but the fund has recently changed its name to Aberdeen Property Trust, after it was bought by Aberdeen Asset Management.

The site has been largely undeveloped since the park was established.

The plans are expected to go before councillors in the New Year.


Play park site investigation work to begin in West Dunbartonshire

West Dunbartonshire Council is to begin site investigation works at a play park in Hardgate.

The council is required by law to check for land that could potentially be contaminated and the Environmental Health Section has identified the site in St Helena Crescent as requiring further examination.

The council does not hold detailed records of the history of the land, but there is information to suggest a refuse heap may once have been located in that area.

Exploratory works, which will include taking soil samples from various depths, will begin on Monday. The park will remain open until early January when, due to the equipment required for deeper excavations, access will be restricted for up to three days.

The works will identify the composition of underlying soils which are currently capped within a grass layer.


Plan resurfaces to demolish former Auchterarder cinema for flats

A contentious bid to tear down a Perthshire town’s old art deco cinema has been resurrected.

Developers won permission to convert the former picture house in Auchterarder four years ago, despite protests from a group of cinema historians.

Glasgow-based businessman Christopher Kasiewicz wants to demolish the Regal cinema building, which is now an antiques showroom, and build two blocks of flats in its place. The two-storey property has been on the market for some time but has so far failed to secure a buyer.

Planning permission for the development is about to expire but architects acting for Mr Kasiewicz have submitted a fresh application to Perth and Kinross Council, asking for extra time to start the project.

The original proposal attracted a handful of objections, including one from the Cinema Theatre Association.

The cinema, which is not a listed building, will be the subject of a full photographic survey before any demolition work is carried out.

The property still has many of its original fittings inside, including hanging lights, wall decorations and an ornate balcony.

Most of the cinema seating has been removed and the main body of the building is now used for the storage and sale of antiques.

Council officers are expected to rule on the latest application early next year.


Councillors reject pub/restaurant plan for Perth residential area

Plans for a pub and restaurant on the outskirts of Perth have been narrowly rejected by councillors.

By seven votes to six, members of Perth and Kinross Council’s development control committee refused the application for vacant land on Perth’s Lamberkine Drive.

As well as concerns from local people about litter and noise, objectors argued that the site should be preserved for office development.


Solar farm on 153-acre site gets green light

One of Scotland’s largest solar energy farms has been given planning permission, in a move that will bring power to more than 5,000 homes.

Some 90,000 photovoltaic panel (PV) modules will be placed on a 153-acre greenfield site at East Ballochy, between Brechin and Montrose, which will continue to be used to graze sheep.

The application on behalf of the Stracathro and Careston Estate was approved by Angus Council last week.

Project associate Borealis Energy said the “relatively remote location” was an ideal place for development.

The site is within the elevated area of Muir of Pert in the lower South and North Esk valley, three miles north-east of Brechin and two miles north-west of Montrose, with the A90 to the north and Montrose Basin to the south.


Marshall Construction apprentice builds a strong foundation for his future career

Jamie Cumming
Jamie Cumming

Jamie Cumming, a 3rd year apprentice bricklayer with Alloa based Marshall Construction, is celebrating winning an award from an ancient organisation of tradesman whose motto is “By hammer in hand all Arts do stand.”

The Incorporation of Hammermen of the City & Royal Burgh of Stirling, recorded their earliest minute in 1596 but probably existed before that date. In the early days they regulated all who wielded hammers including gold and silversmiths, blacksmiths, clock makers, pewterers and addlers. Nowadays they promote good hammer skills in tradesmen throughout the region and have forged close links with Forth Valley College where Jamie (20), attends college as part of his apprenticeship.

Jamie has won the 2014 In of Hammermen Award in Bricklaying.


St James project will bring ‘tram like’ disruption to Edinburgh

The massive £1 billion St James Quarter redevelopment is set to bring trams-style disruption to a key part of the Capital, the next head of Edinburgh’s city-centre business organisation has warned.

But Roddy Smith, who will take over as chief executive of Essential Edinburgh in March, said the experience of the long-running trams project should mean the city can cope better this time.

Mr Smith, currently head of Cricket Scotland, said latest footfall figures showed the city centre was recovering well from the impact of the tram works which saw prolonged road closures – but he acknowledged challenges ahead.

The current St James Centre is to be demolished to make way for 750,000 sq ft of retail space, two hotels, 250 homes and a boutique cinema, as well as new public spaces providing access through the site connecting Princes Street to Leith Walk.

The current St James Centre is due to close in September next year, with construction work set to start soon afterwards and the new shopping mecca scheduled to open in early 2020.


Councillors to vote on plans to shore up Broughty Ferry dunes

Dundee City Council has lodged a planning application for further work to protect Broughty Ferry’s dune system.

Works planned after last winter’s sea storms blasted the Ferry’s Esplanade have already begun to stop erosion and prevent sand blowing into streets and gardens.

According to a council report, the works will reshape and increase the height of the dunes and will include planting and the formation of access points.

They will be carried out along a half-mile stretch of Broughty Ferry beach that runs alongside the Esplanade.

The works became necessary after fencing deteriorated with age and was no longer fit for purpose.


A81 improvement plans unveiled

East Dunbartonshire Council’s Development and Regeneration Committee has approved the next stage of plans to improve the road and cycling infrastructure in the area.

The plans are for Milngavie and Bearsden and arepart of the wider Bears Way scheme. The project aims to encourage people to cycle, walk and use public transport on the A81.

Financed entirely through external funding, the local authority is working with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Sustrans, Cycling Scotland and Transport Scotland on the plans.

Phase one of the plans have now been agreed which will see segregated cycle lanes created from Burnbrae to Hillfoot. This will be delivered in spring 2015. Plans to introduce waiting and loading restrictions on the A81 Milngavie Road in Bearsden and Main Street in Milngavie, between Burnbrae roundabout and Burnmouth Place, are also being progressed. In addition, flat-top speed tables are to be located at the residential road west of the roundabout, as well as the access road to Allander Leisure Centre.

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