Building Briefs – February 26th
New M8 footbridge works underway
Graham Construction has started work on a new £2.5 million footbridge on the M8 near Hillington.
The current bridge no longer conforms to modern day standards and will be replaced by a sustainable, new structure which is partly made of recycled materials and features easy access for cyclists and less-abled pedestrians.
Scotland TranServ is currently overseeing the project which is expected to last approximately 16 weeks.
To ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike the new bridge, which will be constructed off site, must be installed under a series of total closures which will take place over three Saturday evenings: 28 March, 11 April and 18 April.
Moray wind farm fails to secure government deal
Plans for a major offshore wind farms project in the Outer Moray Firth were dealt a major blow after Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (Morl) failed to secure a deal on a UK government subsidy.
This would have given a guaranteed price at which Morl could sell electricity produced for the first 15 years of the renewable energy scheme.
Morl plans to build three wind farms called Telford, Stevenson and MacColl with up to 62 turbines on each site.
In a separate project, Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited plans to install a further 110 turbines in the Outer Moray Firth.
The Scottish Government gave the Morl and Beatrice projects the go-ahead in March last year.
At the time, it said the combined development off the Caithness coast would make it the world’s third biggest offshore wind farm.
If constructed, the combined scheme would have more turbines than the 175-turbine London Array.
It would also be the third largest in the world after the planned South Korea Electric Power scheme off the south-west coast of the Korean peninsula, and the Blekinge project in the Baltic Sea off Sweden.
The 11 projects to have been awarded the contracts are
Masterplan agreed for development on Mull
Argyll and Bute Council has approved a plan which will see private and affordable houses as well as commercial properties on Mull.
The development, at Lephain on the outskirts of Tobermory, contains a medium scale housing proposal which includes affordable housing, land for business expansion, a road and footpath network and an element of structural planting.
An area of light industrial use will be created behind the island biscuit bakery with up to 12 low density housing units, half of which will be affordable units, primarily for employees of the bakery or the nearby Sgriobruadh farm.
Delivering a development solution that puts people first and recognises the unique character of Lephain, the plan stipulates that any development should merge with the existing landscape with pedestrian, cycle and road links being built throughout the site to connect to the existing path/road networks.
A phased approach will be taken to reduce the impact on the surrounding environment.
Dundee Waterfront’s new bridge takes shape
The Seabraes bridge will connect Riverside Drive with Perth Road and is expected to reduce pedestrian journey times by half.
West End residents have already seen significant progress, with the main arch that sits above the bridge currently being assembled.
City development chief Will Dawson said there were no delays and the bridge will be open to the public in May, on schedule.
At Christmas, the railway line was closed for two days to allow engineers to complete work essential for the bridge’s construction.
This also allowed work to accommodate the city’s new £14 million railway station as part of the Waterfront project.
Work has already begun on the new station and is due to be completed in autumn 2016.
Plan to upgrade Inverness Railway Station
Dutch rail operator Abellio has committed to an upgrade of Inverness Railway Station which will cost between £2 million and £3m.
The firm will run ScotRail services from April after securing the franchise in October.
It will take over from Aberdeen-based FirstGroup, which has run most Scottish rail services for the past 10 years.
Representatives from Abellio met with members of Highlands and Islands transport body Hitrans in Inverness earlier.
A feasibility study into how best to upgrade the station is to be completed by March of next year.
The station was constructed and added to during the 1800s. The pitched iron and glass roof over the concourse was built in 1876.
Rising damp complaints in Angus council housing
Concern is growing in Angus over a five-year increase in the number of damp homes complaints.
Fresh figures have revealed the county has seen a year-on-year increase in complaints since 2009.
Statistics obtained by The Courier reveal that Angus has received almost 2,500 complaints over damp in local authority housing during that period.
Repair requests to Angus Council topped 2,400 during the period to the end of last year, with this year set to top 600 homes.
In response to the complaints and new figures, Angus Council said: “All council homes will meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by the end of March 2015.
“This means they all have insulation, efficient central heating systems and openable double glazed windows.
“Increases in fuel costs in recent years have made it difficult for some tenants to afford to heat their homes fully. We are working to help by improving the energy efficiency of our homes through extensive investment in insulation and replacement heating.
“In the vast majority of cases, issues reported as damp are condensation. Condensation in homes is prevented by householders using a combination of heating and ventilation.
“We work with each and every tenant who notifies us of condensation problems and provide advice to help them reduce the condensation occurring.”
First-time buyer lending in Scotland up 23 per cent in 2014
New data released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has revealed a quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year decline in Scottish house purchases.
However, the figures also showed an increase in first-time buyers compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.
The CML said that in the fourth quarter of 2014 there were 7,000 first-time buyer loans in Scotland, worth £750 million.
This was down compared to the third quarter of 2014 which saw a 5 per cent fall by value and 4 per cent fall by volume but year-on-year, the number of loans increased by 3 per cent and the amount borrowed by 9 per cent.
There were 8,000 loans made to Scottish home movers, valued at, £1.2 bilion which was down 8 per cent in volume and down 9 per cent in value compared to the third quarter.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, there was a decrease of 8 per cent in volume and a decrease of 5 per cent in value.
In 2014 as a whole, Scotland accounted for 6.6 per cent of UK-wide annual house purchase activity, down from 6.9 per cent in 2013.
Minister opens Dalwhinnie road junctions consultation
Cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities Keith Brown the is inviting the public to have their say on plans for new road junctions for the village of Dalwhinnie.
The proposal is part of the Scottish Government’s work to dual 80 miles of the A9 between Perth and Inverness.
The initial designs go on display on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 March 2015 in Dalwhinnie Village Hall.
New EU procurement rules will help SMEs, says FMB
New EU procurement rules coming into force today via the new EU Public Procurement Directive have the potential to improve public procurement for SMEs, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The new EU obligation for public sector clients, including local authorities, to break down their contracts into smaller lots should help small construction firms win more public sector work. This means small firms can once again act as the principal contractor on smaller contracts rather than having to form part of the supply chain. This is important because working for large construction firms is not appealing for many SMEs as they are unwilling or unable to cope with late payment which is still a major problem in our sector.”
Berry added: “Public contracts account for almost 40 per cent of total construction output but in recent years, small and micro firms have been increasingly losing out to the big players. It is essential that the new Rules are implemented promptly so that small firms can begin to benefit which in turn will unleash the potential for much needed economic growth in all parts of the UK.”
Council proposes to pilot 20mph speed limit in housing estates
West Dunbartonshire Council is seeking public support for the introduction of 20mph speed limits in two of its housing estates to improve road safety and encourage people to walk and cycle.
The council is proposing to restrict speed in all streets within Bellsmyre in Dumbarton, and Whitecrook in Clydebank as part of a pilot project.
The council will be highlighting the plans to the community in both areas and will be seeking residents’ support before introducing the new restrictions.
If residents are supportive the new speed limits could be in place by the end of the year.
The scheme would be closely monitored and if successful it could be rolled out to other areas in West Dunbartonshire. Evaluation would include both road safety in the area, and the number of pedestrians and cyclists on the streets.
Whitecrook and Bellsmyre were chosen to introduce the scheme as both already have extensive traffic calming measures in place which would assist in ensuring drivers comply with the reduced speed limits.
Councillors have also agreed that Hillstreet Square will be the new street name for the housing development at the former Hill Street, Dumbarton.
The new housing site will create 38 new homes including two wheelchair accessible properties, family homes and flats. Residents in the Dumbarton estate have been closely involved in the project with consultations organised monthly to discuss the type of housing and design.
Regal award for Aberdeen family business
A north-east family timber business has been given the royal seal of approval for its services to the Queen.
Aberdeen-based James Cordiner and Son has received the royal warrant of appointment for the work it does in supplying the Royal Family with goods for several decades.
Stuart Cordiner, managing director, who has worked for the company for 30 years, said it was his privilege to have been a part of Cordiner’s journey.
The firm was started by Mr Cordiner’s great, greatgrandfather in 1870 as a small boat building business before expanding to what it is today.
The office has since been passed down the generations and is now based in Crombie Place where it supplies companies across the UK with timber, pallets, boxes, sheet materials, fencing and joinery products.