Building Briefs – January 14th

Birkwood Castle
How the completed Birkwood Castle will look

First phase of Birkwood Castle development nears completion

Hotel operator and property developer Envestco has completed the first phase of the development of Birkwood Castle and estate which is being transformed into a boutique hotel and residential development of luxury homes.

The company today announced that it has completed the clearance of numerous dilapidated and unsightly buildings from the site leaving them free to concentrate on conversion plans.

The renovation plan, which will cost in excess of £7 million, is due to be completed by April 2016.

Situated in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Birkwood’s curious, some may say haunting past began in 1860 as a family home, before becoming a hospital for mentally-disabled children. After closing its doors in 2002, Birkwood Castle, despite its listed status, has fallen into a drastic state of disrepair, creating a significant challenge for Envestco to return the site to its former glory.

The next stage is to make the castle structurally secure before moving on to visible repairs, beginning with the castle’s roof and windows, before undergoing its final detailed conversion into a top-class boutique hotel. It is intended that the site will become a major destination for weddings, conferences and special events, given its unique beauty and its natural rural setting amongst vast open woodland views.


Roads closed long term for start of Brechin flood defence works

Two Brechin roads will close for up to 15 months as the main work gets under way in the town’s flood prevention scheme.

The multi-million-pound project will see the closure of River Street and Witchden Road from today.

The scheme, described as the single largest civil engineering project in Angus, will see direct river defences constructed along the north bank of the South Esk.


Scotland’s fuel poverty target unlikely to be met, say MSPs

MSPs have called for more action after a report into the Scottish Government’s budget for 2015-16 found that the statutory target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016 is unlikely to be met.

The economy, energy and tourism committee requested that the Scottish and UK governments provide regular updates on progress on how respective policies are impacting on fuel poverty in Scotland.

MSPs are also requesting that a UK government minister give evidence to the committee on the impact that changes to the UK energy market reform will have on fuel poverty in Scotland.

Among other conclusions in its report the committee welcomed the Scottish Government’s support for prioritising energy efficiency for existing housing, and relays the plea for greater investment in renewable heat.

A copy of the committee’s report can be found here.


Successful assessment for AJ Engineering

AJ Engineering has undergone a successful assessment by the Steel Construction Certification Scheme (SCCS), part of the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA).

The firm, based in Forres, Moray, can now undertake Steel Fabrication works up to Execution Class 4.

Graham Alexander, general manager at AJ Engineering, said the additional accreditation now enables the company to expand its expertise into area’s such as Bridge Works and Stadia.

AJ Engineering is also an ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 accredited company.


Scottish Parliamentary committees back call for warm homes

Scottish ministers have been urged to re-examine funding commitments for the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes by three influential Parliamentary committees.

The infrastructure and capital investment committee, the economy, energy and tourism committee and the finance committee were responding the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget for 2015-16.

The move follows calls by WWF Scotland and the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) for the Scottish Government to prioritise energy efficiency in its spending decisions if targets to eradicate fuel poverty and tackle climate change are to be met.

The committees all supported calls, made by WWF during evidence sessions, that the retrofitting of energy efficiency measures to existing homes should become a national infrastructure priority.


Barratt to increase site openings to six-year high

Barratt is stepping up its pipeline of site openings in the next six months to take site under construction to a six-year high.

Mark Clare, group chief executive, said the housebuilder launched 96 sites in the first half, compared to 81 in the same period last year.

He revealed Barratt’s ambitious plan to step up new building projects in another upbeat trading update for the firm’s first six months.

During the period Barratt lifted completions by 12.5 per cent to 6,971, with the average selling price for private homes up by the same amount to £253,000.

He said the firm was on track to deliver 15,700 completions, including 700 joint venture homes, by its full-year in June.


A&J Stephen boosted by Chapelton of Elsick development

The construction of Scotland’s first new town for a generation has boosted profits at Perth building group Stephen.

Newly published accounts for A&J Stephen (Holdings) Ltd show turnover at the family-owned group, whose roots go back to 1935, grew by more than £3 million to £12.56m in the year to March 31, 2014.

Profits were also significantly ahead, with the company reporting a pre-tax return of £633,744 for the year, up from £95,491 in 2013.

The performance represents continued progress from the loss-making position that Stephen was in during the downturn in 2012.

The company — which is currently offering properties for sale across eight sites in Tayside, Fife and north-east Scotland — said there was strong demand for its new-build properties at the multi-million-pound Chapelton of Elsick development near Aberdeen.

The firm is one of three construction companies appointed to make Lord Southesk’s vision of an all-new community on the outskirts of Aberdeen a reality.


Three Aberdeen paths to be restored

Improvement works are due to begin at three of Aberdeen’s most popular paths.

A total of £435,000 will be invested on the projects at Deeside Way as well as the Formartine and Buchan Way, while paths in Hazlehead Woods are also set to benefit.

GAP Group achieves Safecontractor accreditation

GAP Hire Solutions has achieved Safecontractor accreditation for its robust approach and ongoing commitment to excellence in health and safety.

Safecontractor is a leading industry scheme that assesses the health and safety competence of contractors and service providers throughout the UK, recognising companies who prioritise appropriate health and safety standards in the workplace. The scheme is designed to review and audit the health and safety policies and procedures of companies to ensure that they are always kept up-to-date.

The Safecontractor accreditation complements the recent BS OHSAS 18001 accreditation achieved by GAP in 2014 which confirmed its safe systems of work, health and safety policies and related documentation are fully compliant with the stringent standards required and will sit alongside existing ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accreditations in quality and environmental management respectively.


PassivSystems extends Stirling Council partnership

PassivSystems is to extend its current remit with Stirling Council with a further 700 Solar Photovoltaic systems to be installed with PassivPro over the next two years.

Stirling Council have over 600 solar PV systems currently monitored by PassivPro, the Company’s integrated renewable energy management product for the monitoring and optimisation of solar PV assets, and intend to extend this with a further 700 solar PV systems to meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by March 2015.

To date, the solar PV systems generate 1.7 million kWh of free electricity for Stirling Council’s residents per annum, whilst generating an annual income of £280,000, to be reinvested in future energy schemes.


Fire-ravaged lock-ups in Glenrothes to be demolished

Garages in Glenrothes that were gutted by fire are to be demolished, it has been confirmed.

Contractors have been invited to approach Fife Council about razing the blocks of lock-ups at Sinclair Drive and Douglas Place, which were set alight in November.

The blocks have remained untouched ever since, with asbestos in the roof of the structures preventing residents from removing their scorched belongings.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of property was destroyed in the fires, including several cars.


Promotions at DM Hall Chartered Surveyors

Independent Chartered Surveyors DM Hall has appointed three new directors and three new associates from within the business.

The elevation to director of Laurence Neil in Aberdeen, Michael McDonald in Elgin and Greig Baxter in Inverurie demonstrates once again the firm’s commitment to developing and strengthening its business across Scotland.

Elevated to associate are Amanda Cameron, who heads the firm’s Property Enquiry and Legal Search department, and residential surveyor Steven Leith, both in the Dunfermline office, and commercial surveyor Katie Craig at the Edinburgh office.

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