Building Briefs – March 3rd


Hebridean Housing Partnership signs £14m planned maintenance contracts

Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) has signed contracts to deliver over £14 million of investment in tenants’ homes over the next four years.

The investment will be delivered through a framework contract which includes 9 locally based contractors.

The planned works include:

  • 283 bathrooms
  • 689 heating systems

  • 397 kitchens
  • 74 windows
  • 65 houses reroofed and
  • 83 houses roughcast

  • The investment follows on from the £15m investment which has been delivered in 2011-2015 and brings the total spend to date by HHP on major improvements in tenants homes to £24.2m since 2006.


    Six per cent increase in new housing supply

    The number of homes built in Scotland for the full year to end September 2014 has risen by six per cent compared to the previous year, according to new figures.

    15,436 homes were completed in the year to end September 2014, 901 homes more than in the year to end September 2013. This equates to a rate of 289 per thousand people in Scotland compared to 214 in England and 194 in Wales.

    In the same period there were 11,828 private sector led starts, ten per cent higher than the previous year.

    The number of social sector homes started also rose by five per cent to 3,593 compared to 3,417 started in the previous year.

    Housing minister Margaret Burgess (pictured) said the figures are to be welcomed and will provide further encouragement for Scotland’s house building industry.


    £70m for first time buyer interest free loan scheme

    A Scottish Government scheme which provides interest free loans to first time buyers has been given a £70 million investment.

    The Open Market Shared Equity Scheme (OMSE) requires eligible participants to purchase between 60 per cent and 90 per cent of the value of a home within certain price thresholds that is for sale on the open market.

    First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the scheme will help first time buyers on low to moderate incomes buy a home.


    New bypass suggested for Ellon rather than bridge over Ythan

    Aberdeenshire councillors are being encouraged to opt for a new bypass in Ellon instead of a bridge over the River Ythan.

    The plans form part of the proposals for the Cromleybank development, which would see almost 1,000 homes being built in the town.

    New schools, shops, a hotel, and sports pitches are included.

    The 3km road would link the B9005 to the A920. The issue will be discussed at the Formartine area committee.

    The local development plan for the area suggests a new bridge would be needed to deal with the increase in traffic flow caused by the site.

    However, council officials are recommending that members opt for a southern bypass instead, which would divert traffic away from the Ellon town centre junctions.


    KFC plan for Glenrothes restaurant quashed

    Fife Council has rejected plans by KFC to open an outlet in Glenrothes, claiming that it could have caused road accidents in the heart of the town.

    The chain had earmarked a site opposite Fife House, currently used by council employees as a car park, for a new drive-thru restaurant.

    However, local authority planning officers have refused the company’s application, claiming that its proximity to the Rothes Roundabout could cause accidents.


    McGill Electrical wins Dundee testing contract

    A Dundee electrical firm with a long standing connection to Dundee City Council has come out top in a tendering exercise that will secure work for the next three years.

    McGill Electrical was in pole position when compared with four other national firms vying for the contract to inspect and test the electrics in Dundee council houses.

    The firm has previously had similar agreements with the council to renew or install controlled entry systems and carry out other long term electrical work.

    A two stage process was worked through to arrive at the most economically advantageous tender, and as well as McGill’s success the exercise was “shadowed” by the council’s own environment department construction services division who will carry out some of the inspection and testing programme at similar cost and quality.


    Dundee charity could borrow money to build homes

    For the first time in its 86-year history a venerable Dundee trust could be allowed to borrow money to build up to 20 new homes in the city.

    The Fleming Trust set up by one of the past two century’s most successful investment bankers could be allowed to borrow £2m from Dundee City Council’s reserves.

    In a report by the council’s director of housing Elaine Zwirlein, the Trustees will be told that making provision for that amount to finance a new build programme would make sure that loan repayments can be supported from the trust’s finances while retaining a prudent level of reserves.

    The Fleming Trust was set up in 1929 and the estate is held and administered by the city council as trustees. It provides that the housing stock will be “factored” by the council and that, in order to keep down charges, council officers will manage and undertake all work in relation to the provision of the housing.

    When it was established the Trust’s aims included the clearance and demolition of slum dwelling houses and the provision of suitable accommodation for those in housing need.

    The objectives went on to say that once all slums have been cleared that surpluses can be used “according to schemes of such nature as the Committee, may from time to time devise”.

    Originally Trustees had the power to buy land and build houses then use the income from rent to maintain them and invest the surplus. They also have the power to use the surplus in the best interests of the people of Dundee.

    If the Trustees back the plan the new homes would be built in the Hilltown area as part of the plan to regenerate the community.


    Housebuilder helps hundreds of households at risk of homelessness

    Staff from Shelter Scotland and Barratt Homes at the fundraising event
    Staff from Shelter Scotland and Barratt Homes at the fundraising event

    One of the UK’s biggest housebuilders has donated almost £19,000 to housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland – enough to help hundreds of families and individuals through the charity’s free national helpline.

    Barratt Homes’ West Scotland division raised money for the charity during its annual gathering of contractors and suppliers. £18,650 was raised on the night.

    Each year Shelter Scotland helps half a million people facing housing and homelessness difficulties by providing expert support services, online advice and a free national helpline.

    For the fifth year running, Barratt Homes has been named as the highest quality major national house builder, having been awarded an exclusive ‘5 Star House builder Award’ by the Home Builders Federation.


    Artistic expression flows from Inverness pupils on River Ness flood project

    Pupils from four Inverness schools have been working with artists and contractors to decorate temporary hoardings that are in place on the banks of the River Ness.

    The temporary hoardings are located at a Merkinch playpark on Anderson Green and are in place during The Highland Council’s ongoing River Ness flood alleviation works.

    Highland artists DUFI (Fin Macrae and Al McInnes) have been commissioned by the council’s Inverness City Arts Working Group to work with Bishop Eden, St Joseph’s, and Merkinch Primaries and Inverness High School.

    The commission is to create designs originated by local pupils that will be transposed onto the street hoardings at Merkinch. Weather depending, pupils are joining the artists to paint their designs onto the boards. Each school has already drafted their designs but the exciting part of the project is to transfer their work to the hoardings.

    Contractors Mclaughlin and Harvey have prepared the hoardings and Fin Macrae and Al McInnes have held workshops in the schools to create the designs.


    Dundee community could be revamped if demolition approved

    A major redevelopment of a Dundee community will take another step forward next week if councillors agree to the demolition of more than 30 properties.

    Flats at 1-34 Butterburn Square in Hilltown will be cleared to provide land for redevelopment should Dundee City Council’s housing committee approve the plans on Monday March 9th.

    Negotiations with owners to purchase their homes and rehousing priority for existing council tenants in the blocks earmarked for clearance will be part of the plan.

    The housing committee has also been asked to approve a £3 million programme of boiler replacements to more than 700 homes across the city.

    Homes in Douglas, Craigie, Fintry, Dryburgh, Clement Park, Kirkton and St Mary’s are amongst those where the work will be carried out.

    In additional, almost 200 lock up and garage sites across Dundee could be demolished after an investigation by housing chiefs.


    Bid to develop empty properties

    Towns will be able to bid for new funding to help them find ways to develop empty and underused properties in their areas, social justice secretary Alex Neil has announced.

    The new Asset Mapping Funding Pots will give development trusts the chance to conduct surveys, work with stakeholders and consult with their communities on the best methods of rejuvenating their town centres.

    There are currently more than 226 development trusts operating across Scotland. Development trusts are owned and managed by the local community with the aim of regenerating or addressing specific economic, social, environmental or cultural issues in their area.

    The funding will be administered by Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), the network for community-led regeneration in Scotland.


    Consultation on new council offices for Fort William

    People are being invited to come along to a public exhibition in Fort William to give their views on the Highland Council’s proposal for the regeneration of the former Fort William Secondary School site into the council’s new main offices to serve the town.

    The site on Achintore Road, which has lain empty for over twenty five years, is owned by the council and is a listed building. The plan is that the new development will replace offices currently occupied by the council in Fort William at Lochaber House, Fulton House and Tweeddale, bringing an estimated year-on-year revenue savings of around £400,000. Work on the site is expected to start later this year with the new council offices for the town completed by Spring 2017.

    The drop-in public exhibition, which is part of a wider public consultation with the community and local stakeholders, on Thursday 19 March, will take place from 10.30am to 7.30pm in the West End Hotel.

    The deadline for responses to the consultation is 9 April.


    Apprentices join builders

    Three Paisley school leavers have secured modern and trade apprenticeships with house-building firm Keepmoat.

    It stems from a partnership with Renfrewshire Council’s Modern Apprenticeship Programme, which finds jobs for young workers.

    James Cameron and Jake Cowan, both 18, secured joiner and plumbing trade apprenticeships, whilst Lucy Markie, 17, secured a Business and Administration apprentice position with Keepmoat.


    Application made for new Aberdeen school

    A planning application has been submitted for a new special needs school following a series of public exhibitions.

    Aberdeen City Council has a budget of £18.5 million in its capital programme set aside for a proposed Centre of Excellence.

    The centre has been earmarked for a vacant site at the corner of Howes Road and Davidson Drive, Northfield.

    The school would accommodate 150 children and has been designed to replace Raeden Centre on Mid Stocket Road, which closed in July 2011.

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