Building Briefs – January 18th

Mark Rafferty, managing director at Bernard Hunter Mobile Cranes Ltd (third from left) collects the Transport News award for Scotland’s Top Training Operator 2018 from Vito Ronzano, managing director of category sponsor Wilcox. Also present are event compares and TV personalities, Des Clarke and Mary Rhodes

Bernard Hunter Mobile Cranes wins top industry training award

Edinburgh-based Bernard Hunter Mobile Cranes Ltd has lifted the award for ‘Scotland’s Top Training Operator of the Year, 2018’ at the annual Transport News Scottish Rewards presentation ceremony.

The event was held late last November and the popular breakfast celebration attracted 600 road haulage industry guests, who filled the banqueting suite at Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. The judges were impressed at Bernard Hunter Mobile Cranes’ determination to form its own in-house training department, when faced with challenges recruiting experienced personnel.

Bernard Hunter Mobile Cranes Ltd has utilised its established in-house training department to produce a structured career path for prospective mobile crane driver.

Since 2014, the company has put six staff members through its crane drivers’ academy, which in some cases can see staff starting from scratch by gaining private car or HGV driving licences. The professional crane drivers and operator’s qualification programme is regulated by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme.

A continuous policy of investing in new technology and crane types has also required experienced staff at Bernard Hunter Mobile Cranes Ltd to progress their training and skills sets, to keep pace with the latest crane fleet arrivals. Two examples of this ethos are the firm’s innovative Spierings Mobile Tower Cranes and a truck based, Bocker crane. The latter is based on a 26-tonne chassis and is the first of its type operated in Scotland.


Demolition work starts at Glasgow Queen Street Station

Demolition work is underway to clear space for the new Glasgow Queen Street station.

Balfour Beatty has started levelling Consort House and the adjoining Millennium Hotel extension to make way for the new station frontage, concourse and entrances as well as new longer platforms as part of the station’s redevelopment.

Over the coming months, three specialist light-weight excavators will break up the building’s reinforced concrete and steel frame floor-by-floor. Protective scaffolding erected around Consort House will limit any dust and noise pollution escaping into the surrounding city.

Once finished, the redevelopment project will give passengers an expanded concourse with increased capacity and circulation space, improved customer facilities and a contemporary and distinctive building both internally and externally.

Hillcrest unveils flats plan for Dundee city centre

Plans have been revealed to build a block of flats on the site of a car park and derelict land in Dundee city centre.

Hillcrest Housing Association is proposing to build a four-storey block containing a total of 24 homes for social rent at Candle Lane.

The plans, drawn up by Jon Frullani Architect, were submitted to Dundee City Council for consideration this week on behalf of Hillcrest and Murrayfield Developments.

Mr Frullani told The Courier the scheme would provide much-needed accommodation.


CH2M Hill UK wins Musselburgh flood protection scheme contract

CH2M Hill UK has won a £974,500 contract to provide consultancy services for the design of a flood protection scheme in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

A Local Flood Risk Management Plan approved by the council in 2016 identified a number of measures required to mitigate possible flood concerns in areas of East Lothian.

The Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme is included in the Local Flood Risk Management Plan. The Scottish Government will contribute 80% of costs towards the development.


RICS: Rising expectations for Scottish housing market

Expectations for the Scottish housing market are improving as more potential buyers are becoming active, the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Residential Market Survey suggests.

The overall UK housing market continued to display a lack of momentum in December, with buyer interest edging lower and surveyors displaying a lack of conviction surrounding the near-term outlook for prices.

By contrast, the Scottish market saw new buyer enquiries pick up in December and the headline price balance remain firmly positive. Expectations for prices and sales in Scotland also picked up looking three months ahead, and are firmly positive on a 12-month horizon.

Indeed, the 12-month sales expectations indicator is now higher in Scotland than in all UK regions other than the North West of England.

The supply of properties coming to the market remains a key concern for Scottish surveyors however, with the survey’s indicator for vendor instructions to sell remaining in negative territory for the ninth consecutive month. Though at -2% it is only marginally negative and has eased from -21% the month before.


Annual Edinburgh office space take-up surpasses 1millon sq ft for first time since 2004

2 Semple Street

Edinburgh has surpassed the 1,000,000 sq ft take-up mark for the first time since 2004, with 1,138,500 sq ft of office space transactions across the four quarters of 2017, according to the latest research from CBRE Scotland.

The 2017 take-up reported was also higher than the previous 5-year total of 808,833 sq ft, with large pre-lets including the GPU relocation at New Waverley (186,500 sq ft) and State Street Bank (65,628 sq ft) at Quartermile 3 contributing significantly. Further pre-lets include Standard Life Aberdeen taking 69,000 sq ft at 10 George Street and Computershare leasing 41,395 sq ft at Four North.

Despite the strengthening demand in take-up, supply remains at a critically low level, with only one development scheme to complete in 2018: GSS Development’s 2 Semple Street. Completing in July 2018, it will provide 38,648 sq ft of first class Grade A office accommodation in a prime city centre location.

Edinburgh is part of the 2017 Big 4 Club: four cities reporting over 1,000,000 sq ft of take-up. The other members are Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, breaking the mark for the first time in recorded history. All four regions take-up figures include GPU deals, with the largest UK GPU deal totalling 380,000 sq ft at Wellington Place in Leeds.


Savills: Investment in Scottish hotels in 2017 marks 60% increase year-on-year

Investment in Scottish hotels in 2017 reached £195 million across 23 deals, marking more than a 60% increase on the total investment volume recorded the year previously (£119.74m), according to Savills research.

In terms of geography, the firm reports Edinburgh saw the highest volume of hotel investment in the year of all the Scottish cities, accounting for 64% of all Scottish transactions totalling more than £117m, a 58% increase on 2016 volumes. The strong activity places Edinburgh ahead of both Birmingham and Liverpool to become the second largest target city outside of London in 2017, in terms of hotel investment volumes, after Manchester. Investment into Glasgow in 2017 more than doubled – rising from £16.8m in 2016 to £35.79m, says the firm, while both Dundee and Aberdeen saw encouraging increased year on year investment volumes (totalling £5.5m and £5.7m, respectively).

The level of interest in Scottish hotels highlights a wider national trend that sees the asset class at the top of the investor’s wish list, says Savills, with strong appetite amongst both domestic and overseas sources. According to the firm’s research investment into the UK hotel market reached £5.4 billion across 219 deals in 2017. This total represents an increase of 32% from 2016, in which levels totalled £4.1bn and is 51% above the 10 year average of £3.6bn.


Residents invited to submit views on Arbroath flood protection scheme

Residents are being invited to submit their views over a flood protection scheme in Angus.

The Arbroath (Brothock Water) Flood Protection Scheme has been developed to reduce the threat of flooding to 530 people and provide a one in 200 year standard of protection.

The project will include three flood storage areas being built at Brothock Meadows, St Vigeans and Hercules Den, using embankments and flow controls to retain flood water above the natural ground level. In addition, enhanced defences will be developed including a combination of new flood walls where there are no flood defences, or where existing defences are in poor condition, while existing walls will be raised and minor remedial works will be carried out to existing walls.

Previous discussions on the proposals has been shared with project designers and influenced adaptations to the scheme. However, the planned publication of the scheme this month has been deferred until the spring to allow more people to offer their views, in particular those whose land is affected by the development.


Repair works to be carried out at Nairn Harbour

Repair works are to begin at Nairn Harbour in the Highlands.

Funding for the works has been approved by Highland Council’s Capital Board after the harbour wall collapsed during storms in December.

Money which had been included in an approved capital budget for harbours is being allocated to proceed with the necessary repairs. The council is responsible for health and safety related works or more significant structural and emergency works to the 100 harbours across the Highlands.


85% increase in Aberdeen office space take-up

The Silver Fin Building in Aberdeen

According to the latest figures from property consultancy CBRE Scotland, take-up of office space in Aberdeen in 2017 has been recorded at 405,000 sq ft, representing an 85% increase from 2016.

Derren McRae, managing director of CBRE’s Aberdeen office, said: “There certainly appears to be an improved level of positivity since returning to our desks this January when comparing market sentiment at the start of recent years in the city. Undoubtedly the increased office take-up levels over 2017 are a factor in this, coupled with the steady improvement in oil price which is encouragingly hovering around the $70 per barrel mark.

“Looking back on 2017, the two headline transactions were, Total relocating from Altens to acquire a surplus 138,000 sq ft Subsea 7 building at Westhill, and Chrysaor taking the majority share at The Capitol with 48,000 sq ft across four floors. Both lettings are testament to infrastructure improvements and recent speculative commercial development.

“The Chrysaor move from Altens to The Capitol shows a positive commitment to both Union Street and the city centre - this is the first time a large oil operator has moved staff from an out of town location back in to the city centre.

“However with the AWPR nearing completion, we are seeing occupiers being prepared to relocate a significant distance to alternative locations of the city for better quality office accommodation, when previously there would have been major resistance to move from one out of town location to another.”


CMS staff help deliver a special Christmas for hundreds of families in Fife

(from left) Councillor Jim Leishman (Provost of Fife), former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, CMS Window Systems PVC contracts director Craig Reid, and Cottage Family Centre director Wilma Brown

More than 950 children and their families who live in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Fife were able to enjoy Christmas like everyone else thanks to an appeal by charity The Cottage Family Centre, supported by a team of volunteers including staff from CMS Window Systems.

The 2017 Christmas Appeal received generous donations from people and businesses across Fife which were collected and organised into hundreds of food crates and bags of new toys, children’s clothing and other gifts for delivery to families who struggle to make ends meet, ensuring Christmas could be enjoyed by all families in Kirkcaldy and the surrounding areas.

Key to the success of this huge logistical and distribution operation were the volunteers who sorted and planned deliveries, the storage space and the vans to get crates and bags to families, on one single day just before Christmas.

As with previous Christmas appeals, CMS Window Systems played a key role here. In addition to providing warehousing space at its Kirkcaldy site and vans from its fleet, staff from the company joined an army of volunteers, including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, to provide essential hands-on support.

CMS has supported The Cottage Family Centre charity for many years in its work to aid families and individuals who are vulnerable to social exclusion as a result of factors such as poverty, low paid employment, poor housing, relationship breakdown, drug and alcohol problems and health related issues.

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