Building Briefs – February 21st

CrannogNorth Lanarkshire park’s iron-age history comes to life in new play area

A spectacular iron-age crannog will be the centrepiece of a new play facility being installed at Drumpellier Country Park.

The 6.5m high wooden play structure is based on a traditional dwelling house, which would have been constructed on stilts over water. The play area, however, will remain firmly on dry land.

The remains of a crannog were found in Lochend Loch within the park, when it was drained for maintenance in the 1930s, and this provided the inspiration for what will be one of the largest single play structures in Scotland.

As well as the bespoke crannog structure, the play area will include a suspension bridge, double cableway, an enclosed slide, a double width accessible slide, climbing nets, hammocks, swings, boulders and logs, sensory play items and fully accessible ramps to allow everyone to enjoy the experience.

The project is part of the wider Seven Lochs Wetland Park, which received £4.5million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Drumpellier Country Park is being developed as a gateway to the Seven Lochs and a hub for heritage conservation, learning and engagement.


Shepherd and Wedderburn announced as headline sponsor of RICS CPD conference

As the headline sponsor of RICS CPD Day, which takes place in Dunblane on March 9, construction and planning experts from law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn will join with other industry leaders to update construction and property professionals from across Scotland with guidance on the emerging developments and challenges in the sector.

The event will focus on property, land, and the built environment, offering key industry updates and economic market outlooks together with growth and inflation forecasts.

Speakers will also provide legal updates on the major areas of change expected to impact on the market. These include Commercial Property Rating Revaluation for April 2017, New JCT and SBCC 2016 Construction Contracts, and changes to residential landlord and tenant law.

Among the speaker line-up are Shepherd and Wedderburn’s foremost construction, planning, and procurement experts: respectively, Euan McLeod, Ewan MacLeod, Rhona Harper, and Daniel Bain, all of whom look forward to sharing ideas and knowledge with fellow practitioners on the day.

This event follows on from the firm’s successful sponsorship of RICS’ Dispute Resolution Conference in December, which aimed to help construction and property professionals get to grips with the different options available for resolving disputes during the course of a construction project or following its completion.


Call for Scottish Government to create new manufacturing strategy

The Scottish Government is being called on to create a new manufacturing strategy for the country.

With new figures revealing unemployment has risen for a third time in the row, union Unite is calling on ministers to make a further investment in apprenticeships to support new skills.

New research from the UK Commission for Enterprise and Skills found 14% of Scottish employers are facing skills gaps. In addition, the Institution of Engineering and Technology states Scotland will need an extra 147,300 engineers by 2022.

Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said the government should use its powers to create strategies for the economy’s biggest sectors, including energy, tourism, housing, manufacturing, and especially oil and gas.


Homes plan on former Aberdeenshire railway site

Plans have been lodged for a housing development on the site of a former railway station in Aberdeenshire.

CA Duguid and Sons has applied for planning permission in principle for homes at the former Auchterless station near Turriff. It is understood nine homes could be built at the site but the exact number is not stated in the proposals.

The land has been used by CA Duguid and Sons as a storage area for its business activities in the North-east.

A design statement, submitted with the application by James G Ironside Ltd on behalf of the applicant, said: “The proposals included are for a housing development on a site which extends 0.99 hectares in total and is contained within the yard, single box and track bed areas of the former Auchterless railway station.

“Access to the site will be by a new junction off the A947 leading to a turning circle which will allow vehicles including a refuse vehicle to enter and exit the site on the 5.5m wide roadway.

“The housing layout is purely for illustrative purposes but demonstrates how a small-scale development of up to nine homes sits neatly within the existing built pattern already contained in the area and has the potential of providing a sustainable development within a unique rural location with public transport links to major service areas of Turriff and Banff.”

The public has until March 16 to make a comment on the application.


Official launch for Sumburgh airport after £8m revamp

An airport in Shetland that is a key resource for the oil and gas sector has been officially opened after undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf marked the take-off of the upgraded Sumburgh Airport after regional airport operator Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) invested nearly £8 million over three years.

Improvements to the travel hub, located about 25 miles south of Lerwick, include larger security screening areas, upgrades to the main departure lounge and a dedicated area for offshore workers.


Kier starts work on £1.1m memorial hall refurb

Kier Construction has started work on a £1.1 million refurbishment project in East Dunbartonshire.

The Bishopbriggs War Memorial Hall upgrade scheme got underway last week.

Features include a full refurbishment to the main and lesser hall, a new kitchen, fully refurbished toilets throughout and general repairs and upgrades to the outside of the building.

Once the project is completed at the end of April, work will start on a £2m Hub scheme at Bishopbriggs Library. The community facility will bring together council, library, leisure and cultural services in a single building, as well as including a multi-purpose room for children’s activities and reading groups, a computer learning suite, private rooms for confidential business and an enhanced heritage space which will incorporate the Thomas Muir Museum.

The combined £3m investment will see the completed War Memorial Hall and new Library and Community Hub building available to the local community in winter 2017.


Shetlands, Renfrewshire and the Borders all show property market growth

The Shetland Islands has seen the highest increases in average prices, volumes of sale and total value in Scotland in the last quarter of 2016, and according to SPC Scotland, it’s proving popular for those from south of the Border.

The most recent quarterly house price statistics published by Registers on Scotland, covering the period from October to December 2016, shows that the average selling price in the Shetlands is up 15.8% from the same period last year to £159,326, while the volume of sales has increased by 16.9% year on year. The total value of sales over last quarter of 2016 was £14,339,370, which is an increase of 35.3% since 2015.

This demand is backed up by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), recording that The Shetland Isles saw the biggest house price increase in the UK last year, registering a rise of 26%.

For Scotland as a whole, the average selling price is £168,495, remaining around the same level as in 2015. While the volume of residential sales was down 0.1% from the same period in 2015, there have been some areas where the shortage has been more pronounced, such as in Glasgow, with a 4.8% decrease in the number of properties being brought to market.

East Renfrewshire is another area in Scotland that has seen an increase in average selling prices – up by 8.1% to £250,227. The number of homes being sold has increased by 16.7% year on year.

While Edinburgh continues to be a seller’s market, with a slight shortage of property fuelling faster selling times and a modest 0.5% average selling prices, in the Scottish Borders the average selling price has increased by 5.9% year on year, to £176,700. Mid-range properties in the Scottish Border have benefited from the LBTT changes as it is possible to buy two or three bedroom semi-detached homes in the Borders without paying any Stamp Duty, or for a few hundred compared to several thousand pounds.

Tayside Solicitors Property Centre (TSPC) has seen strong demand for homes across the region with a 3.2% increase in average selling prices, while Perthshire Solicitor Property Centre (PSPC) has seen a 1.3% increase in average selling prices.


Contractor to install speed cameras on AWPR/B-T project

A joint venture between Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Galliford Try has revealed plans to increase the safety of construction works on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie-Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) project.

Aberdeen Roads Limited will start installing speed cameras along the A90 at Stonehaven from this week.

The new cameras will stay in place until works are complete and a temporary speed restriction of 50 mph will be in place.

Once completed, the £745 million AWPR/B-T will help to reduce congestion, cut journey times, improve safety and lower pollution in Aberdeen City Centre.


Scottish Water begins Highlands water mains repair

Work is underway to repair a burst water main in the Highlands.

Scottish Water is carrying out the project at Barn Church Road in Culloden.

The three-day scheme, which is being delivered at the junction with Tower Road, involves repairing the road surface and appliance.


Work complete on £60,000 Seaton Park train refurb

David Ogilvie Engineering has completed a £60,000 refurbishment project in Aberdeen.

The former Mr Therm train and its carriages have been re-installed at Seaton Park having undergone repairs and new painting work.

The refurbishment is part of Aberdeen City Council’s £130,000 spend on regenerating the Park.

The train was previously used for transporting coal from Aberdeen harbour. With the closure of the former gas plant in the 1970s, Mr Therm was transferred to Aberdeen Council for preservation, where the engine was placed in the play area at Seaton Park in 1974.


Over 100 organisations receive funding to tackle climate change

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced over 100 organisations across Scotland are to receive funding to help tackle climate change.

Almost £10 million is being allocated from the Climate Challenge Fund, which supports projects that inspire people to take action against climate change.

Since it first launched in 2008, 986 awards have been made totalling £85.8m.

For a list of successful recipient’s, visit here.

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