Building Briefs – June 10th

Left to right: Alwyn Webster, SNIPEF Immediate Past President; Martin Ramsay, North East Scotland College Plumbing Lecturer; Richard Wilson, Winner, North East Scotland College and Sugplumb Ltd; Neil Robertson, North East Scotland College Plumbing Lecturer; Ross McGregor, Wolseley PlumbCenter Local Network Manager for Grampian and Henry McNicol, Regional Sales Director (Scotland & Northern Ireland) for Worcester Bosch Group
Left to right: Alwyn Webster, SNIPEF Immediate Past President; Martin Ramsay, North East Scotland College Plumbing Lecturer; Richard Wilson, Winner, North East Scotland College and Sugplumb Ltd; Neil Robertson, North East Scotland College Plumbing Lecturer; Ross McGregor, Wolseley PlumbCenter Local Network Manager for Grampian and Henry McNicol, Regional Sales Director (Scotland & Northern Ireland) for Worcester Bosch Group

Aberdeen apprentice wins national plumbing competition

The 40th Annual SNIPEF SkillPLUMB competition was won by Richard Wilson, a third year plumbing apprentice from Aberdeen who works for Aberdeenshire firm, Sugplumb.

North East Scotland College, where Richard studies hosted the event, which was held on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 June.

A total of 13 participants from colleges and training centres across Scotland gathered to compete in the competition, which involves practical exercises in copper pipework and lead work, as well as a multiple choice test. The work of the participants is assessed and marked by a panel of technical experts.

Second prize was awarded to Algirds Balta, of Borders College, employed by Greenheat Renewables in Roslin and third place went to Matthew Gorrie of Perth College UHI, who works for L.W. Haddow Plumbing and Heating Ltd, Perth.

The winner may go on to represent Scotland at SkillBUILD UK in Birmingham in November where the highest scoring winners from the heats will compete in the UK final.

SkillPLUMB is an annual skills competition designed to promote standards and skills across the plumbing industry, developing competence into excellence. SkillPLUMB can bring invaluable benefits to students, colleges and employers. Competitors can gain recognition for exceptional skills, injecting dynamism and excitement into training. Employers can enhance their business reputation and improve the skills of their workforce.


Preliminary design work starts for new Black Isle bridge

Funding is in place, a topographical survey has been done and now preliminary design work has started for a replacement road bridge on the Black Isle after the original structure was damaged beyond repair during storms in January.

Newhall Bridge, close to Balblair on the B9163 Findon - Cromarty road was very seriously damaged by a falling tree on 9th January and had to close to traffic. The B9163 runs along the north side of the Black Isle, linking the A9 to Cromarty and other communities including Cullicudden, Resolis, Balblair, and Jemimaville therefore the immediate bridge closure severed the main link between these communities.

Following an inspection by the Highland Council’s structural engineers that showed the bridge to be beyond economic repair, it became clear that a permanent replacement would be needed. Due to the length of time to construct a permanent crossing, the area roads team made plans to install a temporary bridge which opened to traffic on 6 February and is still in use today.

At its meeting on 12 March, the Highland Council approved funding of £400,000 in 2015/16 to allow work on replacing the bridge to begin. Earlier this week, councillors were given an update during the planning, development and infrastructure committee, confirming that river flow analysis and a topographical survey were now complete and preliminary design work has begun.


£10m investment plan to improve East Lothian housing stock approved

East Lothian Council has approved a £10 million housing modernisation plan.

A total of £10.15m has been allocated to spend on the modernisation of existing council housing stock the refurbishment of properties acquired via the open market and improving energy efficiency.

The council’s successful programme of disabled adaptations will also continue to assist people with mobility issues to live safely in the community.

Details of the full modernisation programme can be viewed online.


Commission calls for ‘radical’ approach to tackle growing housing crisis

A major report has called for a radical look at the future direction of housing policy in Scotland and links the benefits of having a decent, safe and secure home to better health and life chances for all.

Published today by the independent Commission on Housing and Wellbeing and set in the context of a growing housing crisis and widespread poverty and inequality, Housing and Wellbeing: ‘A blueprint for Scotland’s future’ lays out a challenging programme for housing in Scotland.

The Commission, which was established two years ago by Shelter Scotland, makes 18 priority recommendations which it says would begin to address the housing-related poverty and environmental challenges currently facing Scotland.

A key recommendation of the report is the need for a dramatic increase in house building and calls for the construction of 23,000 new homes a year, including 9,000 affordable homes. It also sets out the major challenges for the next decade on issues including housing benefit and council tax reform, freeing the supply of land for new housing, recognising and supporting the growing role of the private rented sector, and stepping up the pace in reducing residential greenhouse emissions.

Spending on housing should be seen as a preventative measure, the report also says.


Sports Direct store planned for Dundee recommended for refusal

Plans for a major new Sports Direct shop and gym in Dundee could be scrapped – after city planners recommended that the £5 million scheme should be refused.

Sports tycoon Mike Ashley’s company had lodged plans for the unit in a former nightclub at The Stack Leisure Park in Lochee, creating up to 96 jobs.

However, on Monday, city councillors will be told by council planning chiefs that the plans should be refused.

They claim that the application “fails to suitably justify siting a retail proposal of this nature in this location”.


Orkney improvement proposals on show

Proposals for potential improvements to the Broad Street area can now be viewed online as well as at an exhibition in Kirkwall.

The proposals from the design team appointed by Orkney Islands Council for the project are also available here - as is an online questionnaire.

The council’s development and infrastructure committee will meet on Friday June 26 to consider the design proposals and public response.

The committee will make recommendations to a meeting of the full council on July 7 on whether to proceed to the construction of an improvements project.


Average house prices up by 35 per cent in ten years

The average house price in Scotland has increased by 35 per cent over the last decade, a new report has revealed.

A 10-year overview of the Scottish property market from the Registers of Scotland (RoS) showed the average house price was £123,977 in 2005-06 and £167,396 in 2014-15.

Covering 2005 to 2015, the report details the trends in the land and property market over the peak years and in the wake of the economic downturn.

The report also revealed an overall drop in annual volumes of residential sales for all areas of Scotland, with the total volume falling by 35.1 per cent from 142,933 to 92,798.

Registers of Scotland data is based on all property sales, even those which do not involve a mortgage.

Key findings revealed in the 10-year property market report include:

• Nationally, average residential house prices grew steadily between 2005-06 and 2007-08, with fairly stable prices between 2007-08 and 2013-14, and then an increase in 2014-15.

• The average prices of all residential property types increased significantly since 2005-06, with terraced properties showing the biggest increase in price across the decade. Flatted dwellings represented the largest share of the market, making up 41.2 per cent of all residential sales in the last 10 years.

• Over the decade, sales volumes decreased by 35.1 per cent, from 142,933 in 2005-06 to 92,798 in 2014-15. Volumes in 2014-15 were the highest since 2007-08 and were up by 6.2 per cent when compared to 2013-14. Volumes for 2014-15 still remained 38.7 per cent below the 10 year high achieved in 2006-07.

• The number of sales being registered with a mortgage in 2014-15 fell by 45 per cent when compared with 2005-06, and rose by 9.5 per cent when compared with 2013-14. Cash sales now equate to 35.6 per cent of the market, as compared to 17.6 per cent in 2005-06.


Scottish Water finishes Arran upgrade project

Scottish Water has completed a project which will bring fresh drinking water to 4000 people in Arran.

The £2.8 million initiative has improved the water quality for customers served by the Balmichael Water Treatment Works (WTW).

Upgrades included the installation of a new water treatment process on the existing site, using a filtration membrane with fine screens.

The Balmichael WTW serves approximately 2500 properties in many parts of Arran, including Brodick, Lamlash, Whiting Bay, Kilmory, Kildonan and Shiskine.

The project was carried out by contractors Ross-shire Engineering.

Site investigation work was carried out in the area prior the project starting, providing important geological, environmental and archaeological information.


Celtic given permission to introduce ‘safe standing’ at stadium

Celtic Football Club has been granted permission to introduce “safe standing” through the installation of a rail seating system at Celtic Park.

It is proposed that the rail seating area will initially accommodate up to 2,600 supporters and after we consult with our supporters, could potentially be introduced for the start of season 2016/17.

Rail seating has been in place in European football for some time and there has been considerable demand for some form of ‘safe standing’ within the UK.


East Dunbartonshire Council to take ‘fresh’ open spaces approach

A ‘fresh’ approach is being undertaken on the future of open spaces in East Dunbartonshire.

The council has shaped its new Open Space Strategy for 2015-2020 by including feedback from members of the public and community groups.

The plan includes an audit of current open spaces in areas such as Bearsden, Milngavie, Bishopbriggs, Torrance, Balmore, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, Twechar, Lennoxtown, Milton of Campsie and Clachan of Campsie.

The strategy will promote long-term management of green infrastructure, looking at its current and future needs along with opportunities.

Potential projects include:

• Park improvements and play facilities.

• Wildflower meadows and wetland habitat creation.

• Woodland management and tree maintenance.

• Path upgrades and access enhancement.

• Recreational facilities.

• Allotments.

Recently the strategy was launched at the new Baljaffray Play Area in Bearsden.

Upgrades to the park includes new play equipment and a revamped layout.

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