Building Briefs – June 26th

Colquhoung-Square-2Austin-Smith:Lord unveils Helensburgh public realm and outdoor museum

Helensburgh’s new town centre public realm, designed by Austin-Smith:Lord, has been officially opened in Colquhoun Square.

The £7 million public realm project is part of Argyll & Bute Council’s CHORD initiative seeking to deliver wider economic regeneration benefits.

Colquhoun Square, adjacent streets and the esplanade have been sensitively transformed, offering a whole new experience for both residents and visitors. Colquhoun Square has been re-imagined as the “civic heart” of the town which includes a plaza capable of supporting significant community events.

The Square also incorporates a new ‘Outdoor Museum’ that showcases, with new artwork, aspects of the town’s rich history. The redesigned Square also provides increased amenity space, seating and planting and supports an emerging “café culture” in the town.

Austin-Smith:Lord led the team which included O’Connor Sutton Cronin (Engineering Consultants), Robinson Low Francis (Cost Consultants), Transport Planning (Traffic Management Consultants), WAVEparticle (Artwork Design) and Maclay Civil Engineering (Main Contractor).


£2.3m to be invested in Highland Council roads

The Highland Council has agreed to invest £2.36 million in repairing the regional road network.

The investment comes after road maintenance was recognised as a priority for the council during 2015-16.

There are some 6,752 kilometres of regional roads network across Highland.

The allocation for Structural Road Maintenance is distributed between the Operational Areas on the basis of need as assessed by the outputs from the Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey (SRMCS) for 2014.

Area offices have submitted fully costed schemes capable of being delivered this financial year. Those schemes include surface dressing, recycling and resurfacing works and include for drainage works and white lining where required.


Costa set for Dumbarton town centre

Major coffee chain Costa could be set for Dumbarton High Street after councillors granted the retailer planning permission.

The coffee shop will take over the vacant unit on the corner of High Street and Quay Street, which was previously occupied by Game Station.

Considerable refurbishment is expected to be made to the property, both internally and externally, with an outside seating area also planned. It is proposed that the Costa would be open from 7am to 8pm seven days a week.

The proposals were approved at a meeting of West Dunbartonshire’s planning committee on Wednesday, with the condition that an outstanding issue concerning access to a room at the back of the property for bin storage was resolved satisfactorily.


Hillington Footbridge Update

A new timetable has been set for the replacement of the Hillington Footbridge over the M8, with further work required on the concrete foundations of the structure before the new steel arch deck can be lifted into position.

Testing carried out by the contractor building the new bridge, GRAHAM Construction, found that some of the concrete cast in the piers and bases was below industry standards.

Work on the new footbridge, used primarily by local residents and people working at The Hillington Industrial Estate, will restart shortly in early July with the new bridge expected to open to the public in September.

A spokesperson for GRAHAM Construction said: “Unfortunately some concrete supplied during the construction of the bridge abutments was not to the correct specification.

“Thankfully, this was tested before the bridge installation and we are now in the process of replacing the concrete. It’s very disappointing that this will cause a delay to the completion of the project, but it’s vital for the local community that we ensure their bridge performs to the highest standards for decades to come.”

Scotland Transerv, on behalf of Transport Scotland is currently overseeing the works.


Workshop for Elgin western link road objectors

Objectors to the proposed link road project in Elgin have attended a workshop to discuss potential changes to the plans.

Planning permission for the road was refused by Moray Council’s planning and regulatory services committee last year, and one of the reasons for refusal was that the application failed to adequately reflect the principles established in the Designing Streets policy.

Moray Council has since affirmed its commitment to the project, which it believes is crucial to providing a second railway crossing and meeting the infrastructure needs of an expanding Elgin population.

The council’s commitment to the project was backed recently by the Scottish Government’s Reporter as part of his formal response to the council’s emerging Local Plan – the area’s development blueprint.

Consultants have been preparing a new planning application for the road, and as part of that process have carried out a review of the project under Designing Streets guidelines.

The outcome of this review was being discussed with objectors to the previous planning application at the workshop.

It is expected that the workshop will see changes to the design that will help to address the reasons for refusal of planning permission, and mitigate residents’ concerns. These changes will be incorporated into the revised planning application that will be presented to the planning and regulatory services committee later this year.


Research demonstrates link between regeneration and life prospects in Glasgow

Gorbals New Housing_373x308Regeneration has helped residents in one of Glasgow’s poorest areas to realise their potential to the extent that they significantly outperform the city average on two key economic measures, according to a new report.

A new study of the Gorbals area in Glasgow conducted by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) shows that after two decades of regeneration, unemployment fell by 31 per cent between 2004 and 2012 and the percentage of “income deprived” people, including those on welfare benefits, also fell by 31 per cent in the same period.

This compares significantly better than the average of Glasgow as a whole, which saw only a 16 per cent drop in unemployment and a 21 per cent drop in “income deprived” citizens between 2004 and 2012.

The RTPI study, Gorbals Regeneration – Delivering Economic Value through Planning, connects the effects of regeneration to better economic outcomes for people by studying local data from the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics.

Key findings show how the Gorbals area has seen rapid declines in unemployment and income deprivation among the local population. In particular, the Crown Street Regeneration Project which won an RTPI award, has brought the most impressive results. Unemployment (at 16 per cent) and income deprived population (at 20 per cent) in the local area are both below the Glasgow city average.

The full report is available from the RTPI Research website.


Construction industry set for ‘bumper year’ of growth

Construction output in the UK is set to rise by 15 per cent over the next nine months to hit highs of £34 billion, the latest research has revealed.

Leading the surge in production will be public-sector building work, which is expected to grow by 11 per cent during the final three quarters of this year, according to analysts at built environment firm Scape Group.

The group’s report also found that public-sector construction has been one of the best-performing areas of the industry, having witnessed growth of 13 per cent over the last two years.

Further positive findings from the research included a suggestion that output across the whole building sector has surged by 17 per cent since the first quarter of 2013.

They also carried out historical research and tried to predict how the new UK government’s construction policy would affect the industry over the coming months and years.

The report includes information on both private and public-sector growth, taking in housebuilding, infrastructure, education and health. It indicates that over the last 10 years, the construction industry has expanded by 9 per cent.


Aberdeenshire Council approves purchase of mid market rent properties

A new organisation set up to deliver mid market housing in Aberdeenshire is to acquire its first homes next month.

Aberdeenshire Council agreed to lend funds to Create Homes Aberdeenshire to enable the purchase of 24 affordable housing units from Stewart Milne Group at the developers Westfield site in Westhill.

The purchase will be completed in two phases, the first 12 houses will be purchased in July with the other 12 homes to be purchased in October.

Rents will be charged at 100 per cent of Local Housing Allowance Rate which in Westhill will result in a monthly rental of £551 for a one bedroom flat, £703 for a 2 bedroom flat and £801 for a 3 bedroom house.

Discussions are ongoing with developers for the provision of further developments for mid-market rental properties. It is anticipated that up to 160 will be available by the end of March 2018.


Hub South East raises £15,000 for the Grassmarket Community Project

Left to right: Billy Gray (framework manager - Morrison Construction), Jonny Kinross (chief executive – Grassmarket Community Project), Tommy Steel (workshop manager – Grassmarket Community Project), Richard Park (operations director – Hub South East), Jo Elliot (chair – Hub South East Board), Craig Bridges (framework director – GRAHAM Construction)
Left to right: Billy Gray (framework manager - Morrison Construction), Jonny Kinross (chief executive – Grassmarket Community Project), Tommy Steel (workshop manager – Grassmarket Community Project), Richard Park (operations director – Hub South East), Jo Elliot (chair – Hub South East Board), Craig Bridges (framework director – GRAHAM Construction)

Hub South East Scotland Ltd, development partner to public sector services in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Borders, has presented local charity - the Grassmarket Community Project - with more than £15,000 after a recent charity golf day.

The first charity event to be organised by Hub South East was supported by primary sponsors, GRAHAM Construction and Morrison Construction, as well as a number of other supply chain partners.

Duddingston Golf Club played host to 18 teams who enjoyed a round of golf, followed by a meal, raffle and auction. Through team entry, sponsorship and money raised on the day, the Grassmarket Community project will benefit from a total of £15,099.15.


Public invited to Haudagain design show

Local residents and road users are being invited to view and have their say on the proposed design for the Haudagain Improvement scheme.

The invitation comes as Transport Scotland is due to publish the draft Road Orders and Environmental Statement for the scheme today.

The designs go on display at a public exhibition in Aberdeen giving locals and road users a chance to comment on the proposals.

Construction of the scheme is expected to start following completion of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie-Tipperty scheme.


Funding for community groups to enhance New Waverley site

New Waverley fund mapCommunity groups in Edinburgh are being asked to bid for funding to enhance the New Waverley development in the Old Town while it is under construction.

The New Waverley Community Fund (NWCF) is a joint project between the City of Edinburgh Council and Artisan Real Estate Investors, the developers of New Waverley. The total fund available is £200,000 including £100,000 held by the Council from a previous developer.

Bids up to £25,000 from not-for-profit organisations will be accepted and the New Waverley Working Group is keen to work with groups who can engage the local community with their projects. The fund is open now and closes at 5pm on Friday, 7 of August 2015.

To apply for funding groups should complete an application form and email it to the council.


Pupils dig deep for school time capsule at Aberdeenshire developments

15-054D-0472.jpgTime capsules have been buried at two Aberdeenshire housing projects after local children looked back to the future.

Sanctuary Scotland asked Strichen School and Peterhead’s Buchanhaven Primary to pack capsules with items relevant to pupils.

Sanctuary is building 74 affordable homes in Strichen and Peterhead, all of which will be completed this year. Both time capsules are due to be dug up and opened in 2065.

Buchanhaven’s time capsule contains a variety of items from loom bands and ‘Frozen’-related items, to a school jumper and a set of house badges.

Both of Sanctuary’s Aberdeenshire projects are being built by Graham Construction. The £1.65 million Strichen development will provide ten houses and two flats, all available for social rent. In Peterhead, the £7.6 million development on the site of the former Craigewan nursing home is creating a total of 62 units for Aberdeenshire Council and Sanctuary.


Last chance for Scottish construction businesses to get the green ‘VIBE’

The application period for Scotland’s leading environmental award scheme is drawing to a close and Scottish construction businesses are encouraged to enter their green credentials for a chance to join the country’s list of sustainable champions.

All entries for this year’s VIBES Awards, which recognise and showcase businesses that are taking significant steps to reduce their impact on the environment, must be submitted by 5pm on Monday 13 July 2015.

Open to organisations of all sizes and sectors, the awards aim to encourage efficient use of resources, enhance business competitiveness, improve environmental performance and support wider sustainable development goals.

There are seven award categories open for entry this year with multiple entries accepted. Categories include: Management (Large and SME), Environmental Product or Service, Transport, Co-operation, Hydro-Nation and Circular Economy. In addition to this, the Micro Business Award will be presented to the best entry to any category from a company with less than 10 employees.

Previous industry winners have included; GRAHAM Construction, City Building, Clark Contracts and Laing O’Rourke.

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