Building Briefs – December 5th

Edinburgh-tramsPlans to expand Edinburgh trams network to Leith

Councillors are set to consider whether the tram network in Edinburgh should be expanded, seven months after the trams began running.

The City of Edinburgh Council is to look at extending the line from the city centre to Leith - part of the original design scrapped when the project ran into trouble.

The line currently stops at York Place in the city centre.

Now councillors are being asked to commission a £400,000 report, examining the implications of extending the line.

If approved, they will consider its findings next spring.


Fundraising drive launched for Kirkmichael Heritage Centre

A crowdfunding initiative in support of the conservation of a medieval kirk and graveyard at Kirkmichael on the Black Isle, is seeking to raise £50k by 17 December, with £3,310 having been pledged already.

Conservation specialists McGregor Bowes are backing the initiative which is being accompanied by a series of activities for visitors, schoolchildren and the local community on the site.

Plans entail creating a heritage centre on the site to interpret the unique gravestone art found on tombstones in the adjoining churchyard, many of which are currently obscured from view beneath turf.


Michelin’s modernising plans for Dundee on public display

Michelin’s plans to modernise its Dundee factory to secure its long-term future has went on public display.

The company has lodged a pre-planning application with Dundee City Council outlining two new development zones at its Baldovie site for the manufacturing and storage of tyres.

As part of the consultation process, the plans will go on display to give the public and other stakeholders the opportunity to give their views.

The event will take place at the Michelin Training Centre on Baldovie Road.

The company stressed the plans for a new southern manufacturing and tyre storage wing to the factory and major earthworks to create a flood storage area on the western boundary are at an early stage.

The building extensions being considered comprise 20,000 square metres of additional process/storage with 300 square metres of offices, plus a 2,000-square-metre extension to an existing process building.


Aberdeen lends support to build on ‘green land’

Aberdeen City Council has backed proposals to build houses on greenbelt land.

Councillors went against the recommendation of officials to vote through an application for a site at North Deeside Road, opposite the International School of Aberdeen.

The proposal from Dr George Stevenson for three five-bedroom detached houses was approved by 10-5, despite advice from a senior planning official that it should not be supported.

Daniel Lewis told the committee the site lay within the council’s designated green space network and the Pitfodels Conservation Area.

A similar application for three houses at Middleton Lodge, off Pitfodels Station Road, was rejected in March due to the green belt policy. However, Lower Deeside councillor Tauqeer Malik moved to approve the plans.

The plans were approved subject to conditions by roads and planning officials and planners, including the construction of a wider access road.

An application for five terraced houses nearby at Airyhall House, Craigton Road, from Bancon Developments was blocked by the committee.


£15m hotel to plug prominent Edinburgh gap site

A long-standing gap site on Edinburgh’s Market Street, situated directly opposite Waverley Station, is to be filled by a 98 bedroom hotel designed by JM Architects.

The seven storey intervention comes at the behest of the EDI Group to take advantage of the prime location overlooking the Waverley Valley and will entail demolition of an unlisted former garage.

A planning application and concurrent conservation area consent application for demolition to make way for the £15m development is now under consideration.


Work progressing on Kirkintilloch Town Hall

Restoration work is continuing to progress at Kirkintilloch Town Hall, East Dunbartonshire Council has said.

The project will bring the historic property back into use as a multi-purpose facility for the local community.

Part of a regeneration scheme for the wider Kirkintilloch town, the hall lay empty for 10 years before funding was secured for the restoration.

External funds of £1.57m have been secured for the project, while the total cost is expected to be around £4.75m. All of the funding will come from external grants or capital funding; this is funded differently and separately from the council’s revenue budget, which pays for day-to-day services.

Already, holding works have been carried out on the building to remove rot, repair roofs, dress back decayed stonework and complete surveys.

The main restoration work itself will include ground-floor event space, a kitchen, toilets, store room, locker room, new entrance, reception and vestibule, as well as a first-floor heritage display, community space and seating and new office and community space.

According to the local authority, work is expected to commence on the stone façade in spring/summer 2015, with regeneration works beginning in the autumn. It is anticipated that the centre will open its doors by autumn 2016.

Plans can be viewed at the vacant Wheel Nuts Unit at 4a Catherine Street, Kirkintilloch on Saturday 6 December and Tuesday 9 December.

There will also be an opportunity to view the plans from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 13 December.

Kelso mountain bike centre plans unveiled

Plans have been unveiled to expand cycling facilities in the Scottish Borders with a mountain bike centre near Kelso.

Cycling club Kelso Wheelers has agreed a lease with Roxburgh Estates to develop an area of Angraflats Forest.

The club initially wants to create 1,000 metres of trails in the plantation along with signage.

A planning application for the £60,000 scheme has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council.


Rural communities given £3m boost to own their own homes

People in rural communities will receive help to get onto the property ladder through a £3 million boost to the Rural Rent to Buy Scheme.

The extension of the scheme, which is delivered by the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT), will give people, who previously would not be able to afford their own home, the chance to rent a new home for up to five years.

At the end of that time they will receive a cash return which will provide them with a deposit so they can buy and own the property which is sold substantially below market value.

To date the scheme has been successful in using small or local companies to build the properties. The funding boost will allow small builders to continue to benefit from these opportunities.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess made the announcement at the Scotland Policy Conference’s keynote seminar: Next Steps for Housing Policy in Scotland, event yesterday.


School moves ahead with arts centre development

Dundee High School’s plans to transform the former post office on Ward Road into a centre of excellence in performing and visual arts have taken a step forward with the appointment of Page/Park as architects for the project.

Plans are likely to include an auditorium, music, dance, drama and visual arts spaces, home economics facilities, a new dining hall and other social areas for pupils.

It is envisaged that the centre will also be used by local groups and for conferences, strengthening the city’s reputation as a centre for creative and cultural excellence.

Glasgow-based Page\Park have worked on high-profile buildings including the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and, in Dundee, the McManus and Dundee University’s School of Computing.


Road reopens following hotel demolition

A road has reopened in Aberdeenshire following the successful demolition of the Highland Haven Hotel.

The A98 Shore Street in Macduff was closed to traffic for safety reason to allow the demolition to be carried out. In October, the hotel was left badly damaged following a fire. It was decided that the property should be demolished, and the heavy concrete roof, as well as the front and middle sections of the building and debris have been removed from the site.


Housing association scoops almost £2m over Athletes’ Village deal

Thenue Housing Association is to receive compensation of almost £1.9 million for land it owned being used for the Athletes’ Village.

The housing association plans to put the cash towards the £36.7m cost of buying 200 homes in the village which it will rent out.

Glasgow City Council began negotiations with the housing body in 2009 in a bid to acquire land needed for housing athletes competing at the Commonwealth Games.

Eventually the local authority had to raise a compulsory purchase order to get possession of three areas of land in Dalmarnock.

These were a plot in Springfield Road and Sunnybank Street which housed 26 tenement flats, a plot bounded by Millerfield Street, Ardenlea Street, Summerfield Street and Sunnybank Street, which housed 65 tenement flats and a cleared site bounded by Summerfield Street, Ardenlea Street, Allan Street and Sunnybank Street.


Council pledges new homes for every East Ayrshire community

East Ayrshire Council has promised each of its wards will have a new council housing development after agreeing a new Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) 2015/16 – 2019/20.

Part of the Local Housing Strategy, SHIP is a key document which not only sets out local priorities but also provides the basis for applications to the Scottish Government for development funding.

Through the SHIP, the council sets out how resources will be used to deliver its affordable housing supply priorities, which include delivering more new-build, affordable homes within key town centre locations throughout East Ayrshire, increasing the number of people living in and around town centres and assisting economic regeneration.

With increasing demand and the need for more specialist housing, the council must address the future housing requirements through the SHIP. It is estimated that by 2023, almost 13,500 residents will be over 75 years and it is essential that plans are put in place to allow older people to remain within their own homes for as long as possible. The SHIP contains plans for new specially designed homes for older and ambulant disabled people.

Work is underway on almost 200 homes at key locations across East Ayrshire and some sites, like Robertland Square in Stewarton, are now complete with tenants already benefitting from the specially designed homes. Developments in Mauchline and Cumnock are due for completion shortly, with tenants set to collect their keys in the New Year.


Demolition plans for Dundee shopping centre

Whitfield Shopping Centre in Dundee is earmarked for demolition and the site turned into affordable, sustainable housing, according to reports.

The all-but-empty shopping centre has latterly been operating with only a convenience store and a Chinese restaurant.

Sources says the London-based owner has now released the Co-Operative from a long-standing lease at the centre and it is Dundee City Council’s intention to buy the centre and move the project forward to demolition.

It is understood that although the Co-Operative had closed its store in the shopping centre several years ago, it had still been tied to a long-term lease which still had several years to run.

The council would have to buy the shopping centre from owners Douglas Shelf 7 and cancel the leases of the two remaining tenants before being able to demolish it, according to the source.

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