Building Briefs - January 5th

The new Largoward homes

Kingdom ends the year on a high note with Largoward development

Kingdom Housing Association has ended the year on a high note with the completion of a dozen new affordable homes in the East Fife village of Largoward, just seven miles from the housing hot-spot of St Andrews where there is massive demand for affordable housing to rent.

The £1.5 million project comprises a mix of two and three-bedroomed cottages, flats and two storey houses and was completed just before Christmas.

The Scottish Government and Fife Council supported the construction with joint grant funding of £920,000 and the twelve houses are the final phase of a £3m development which began between 1999 and 2002 with the successful completion of 19 homes.

The third and final part of the site could not be developed due to drainage constraints. But in 2013 Scottish Water confirmed that drainage capacity was available and stated their support for further new build housing in the village.


Hotel plan for Dundee’s Custom House

Custom House in Dundee is set to be converted for hotel use after being snapped up by a national chain.

Apex Hotels bought the historic Waterfront building, which lies next to its existing hotel at City Quay in September.

No details were released at the time about the company’s plans for the property, however, the firm has confirmed it was looking into proposals to convert the building as an extension of what it currently offers, but more information on what’s planned at the site is unlikely to be available until later this year.


Millions of pounds of investment agreed for Argyll and Bute

Argyll and Bute Council has agreed millions of pounds of investment to build a new house for children and young people in need of care, and to upgrade Dunoon Primary School.

Looked- after children and young people will benefit from a £1 million modern, homely environment in a new custom-made house to be built in Dunoon.

The views of the children, young people and the existing staff team of Dunclutha House have helped to design the new building, which will have a large landscaped garden surrounded by mature trees.

The six bedroom single story house will replace the existing house and will continue to provide short, medium and long term residential placements for children and young people.

The council also agreed to invest £3.5m in the upgrade of Dunoon Primary School, with additional funding of approximately £4m expected from the Scottish Government, following a funding application from the council.

The council worked with the Scottish Government, Scottish Futures Trust, Historic Scotland and HubNorth Scotland Ltd to identify a proposal, in time to meet the Scottish Government application timescale that would create the best possible solution for Dunoon Primary pupils. All parties agreed that a complete demolition, rebuild, or façade retention would not be consistent with the listed nature of the building and that a refurbishment/remodel with part new build was the only deliverable solution.

The project should see Dunoon Primary school significantly upgraded with capacity for 300 pupils and 30 Early Years places. The school will also benefit from a new sports hall replacing the current 1930s extension.


Heidelberg sells Hanson Building Products for £900m

Hanson Building Products, which employs nearly 1,500 people at 18 production sites in the UK, has been bought by private equity firm Lone Star.

The £900m deal also sees Lone Star take control of Heidelberg’s North American Hanson Building Products business.

Heidelberg said the Hanson sale was “consistent with its strategy of focusing on processing and refining raw materials for its core products of cement and aggregates and further downstream activities”.


Developer seeks to build flats at former Arbroath hotel site

A developer has pleaded with Angus Council to let him build “high-end” flats on the site of a hotel destroyed by fire in 2006.

The vacant Seaforth Hotel in Arbroath was burned down in August that year while it was at the centre of redevelopment plans.

Valy Ossman has asked the local authority to relax their specifications for planning on the site — for another hotel or commercial units — which he says is not financially feasible.

Mr Ossman’s Valmarshi Properties was behind the multi-million-pound flats at the town’s Quayside Marina, and he is “always looking” for opportunities to develop in the area.

The land has been owned by Seaforth Investments Ltd since 2005 and several planning applications have been made by the firm for permission to build flats.

Director Steven Smith has backed Mr Ossman’s views on its commercial viability for flats.


Forfar town centre flats proposal considered

Angus Council’s development standards committee will consider plans to convert a listed building in Forfar town centre into flats.

Caledonia Property Co Ltd seeks to make internal alterations to form six flats at 9 Castle Street — above the Salvation Army shop.

The B-listed property dates from around 1800 and was formerly the County Hotel.

The application states that the building’s first floor would accommodate a two-bedroom flat and a three-bedroom flat.

A bedsit apartment would span the building’s first and second floors thanks to an internal staircase.

The second floor would accommodate two flats, each with two bedrooms, and a three-bedroom property would be located in the building’s roof space. An office on the first floor would be retained.

The plan will be considered on Tuesday.


Major Scottish Water project about to start

A major project to prevent flooding in one of Scotland’s urban centres is due to begin this month.

Scottish Water will start work to improve its waste water infrastructure in the Lapsley Avenue area of Paisley, which will help protect the area around the Espedair Burn and White Cart Water.

The improvement work, which is due to start today, will involve the construction of a new Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) with a powered screen underneath a play park in Lapsley Avenue.

The £460,000 project, which is expected to be completed in about three months, will also involve an existing CSO, which does not have screening, being converted into a manhole.


Construction chiefs honoured in New Year’s list

The chief executives of BAM Nuttall and Costain have been awarded a CBE and an OBE respectively in the New Year’s Honours list.

Stephen Fox and Andrew Wyllie received their awards for services to civil engineering and construction.

There was also a CBE for Paul Sheffield, managing director of Laing O’Rourke’s European operations, who was recognised for charity work as well as his contribution to the industry.

Jane Wernick, engineer and founder of Jane Wernick Associates, received a CBE for services to structural and civil engineering.

In the architecture world, classicist and Prince Charles favourite Quinlan Terry received an OBE, as did former Arup deputy chairman Cecil Balmond.


Dundee demolition goes ‘according to plan’

Major demolition work at Dundee’s railway station over Christmas went like clockwork, according to one of the chief engineers on the project.

More than 80 people were on-site from Christmas Eve until the early hours of Saturday to carry out the work while the line was shut.

The work is to allow for the construction of the new £14 million station building at the Waterfront site.

The demolition centred on two bridges over the Dundee to Aberdeen railway line — one a concrete bridge that formerly held up the roundabout above, dating from the 1960s, plus part of the cast-iron structure supporting the station, which was built in the 1800s.

The work included the installation of track protection, and protection for existing cables, signals and rail infrastructure.

The brick arches were broken out and steel beams craned from the site. The demolition debris was then cleared from the track, before the removal of all the protection measures.

Finally, there was an inspection of the site before it was handed back to rail bosses.

It was the third Christmas in a row that a team of engineers were on-site to carry out demolition work ahead of construction of the new station, which will begin next year.

Last year saw the old station entrance building knocked down.


Scottish Empty Homes Partnership given three year extension

A scheme that aims to tackle the “blight” of empty homes has had its funding doubled, the housing minister has announced.

Margaret Burgess said the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) was being extended for a further three years, backed up with an additional £616,500 of Scottish Government cash.

The project, which is run by the housing charity Shelter Scotland, works with councils and others to help bring empty private-sector homes back into use.

Overall, the number of unoccupied properties (second homes and long term empty) is falling. Currently, 31,457 homes are recorded as being empty for six months or more.

Shelter Scotland will use the extra funding to recruit additional staff to support the Partnership and allow up to an additional 12 councils to participate in the Shared Empty Homes Officer programme.

By the end of year 3, up to 28 councils in Scotland could have had access to an empty homes officer and approximately 1,200 empty homes per year could be returned to use.


Groups call to ‘future proof’ Scotland’s homes to tackle fuel poverty

Scottish ministers must prioritise energy efficiency in homes during 2015 if targets to tackle climate change and eradicate fuel poverty are to be met, leading charities have warned.

The call by WWF Scotland, Royal College of Nursing Scotland, and the Existing Homes Alliance comes at the end of a year in which it was revealed that 40 per cent of Scottish households are facing fuel poverty - highest level for a decade and when calls were made for more to be done to hit future climate change targets.

The Scottish Government is committed to eradicating fuel poverty by November 2016, and to reducing Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.


Fife Council agrees five year affordable housing investment plan

A five year plan that will set the direction for investment in affordable housing in Fife has been agreed by Fife Council.

The Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) for 2015/16 – 2019/20 was agreed at the committee meeting and will have a direct contribution to the delivery of the council’s target of 2,700 affordable homes by 2017.

Fife is required to submit this plan to the Scottish Government to set out the affordable housing investment priorities for the council and housing associations for the next five years and show where just over £38 million of Scottish Government grant funding for affordable housing will be prioritised.

The council’s own budget for affordable housing is in the region of £93m, which it uses alongside the Scottish Government grant but an over provision of £16.5m has also been built in to the plan should additional budget or grant funding become available.


Shop demolished after Dundee fire

The scorched remains of a seasonal shop are being demolished after fire ripped through the building days before Christmas.

A barrier has been erected on Murraygate in Dundee to keep people away from the charred building.

Reigart is the firm carrying out the work.

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