Building Briefs – November 16th

DTL_webpage_pictureFloating wind turbines plans submitted off coast of Dounreay

A planning application has been submitted to develop a floating wind power project off the coast of the former nuclear reactor facility at Dounreay.

The project would consist of two turbines fixed onto a single semi-submersible platform, with a total capacity of 8 to 12 megawatts.

Sweden-based Hexicon appointed WS Atkins as its engineering partner last year to help design the pioneering offshore wind technology.

It is thought the project would be a world first, if it comes to fruition.

Norwegian energy giant Statoil has its own plans for a floating wind farm off Aberdeenshire.

But the turbines for Statoil’s Hywind development would be moored individually, rather than in pairs.

Dounreay Tri, the company formed to guide through the project, hopes to have the turbines commissioned and connected to the grid by 2018.


Plans approved for new South Lanarkshire primary school

Plans have been approved for a new primary school in South Lanarkshire.

The new Underbank Primary will be built on a site between Crossford and Hazelbank, which is currently occupied by disused glasshouses and boiler houses.

Proposals for the development include creating a H-shaped single-storey building with five classrooms, a gym/dining hall, a library, break-out space and office and staff areas.

In addition, a central portion will form a courtyard while the building’s entrance will include an eight-metre high feature replicating the appearance of the brick flues of the former boiler houses on the site.

Other features include an environmentally-friendly air-source heat pump system, a playground wrapping around three sides of the school, a multi-use games pitch, hard and soft play areas as well as improved car parking/drop off facilities.

An additional private road will be created to serve nearby residential homes, while existing access from the A72 will be widened.


Contractors complete environmental survey of former Nairn Quarry

Specialist contractors have concluded a former sand and gravel quarry in Nairn is suitable for use as an amenity space.

A report on the environmental conditions at the former Kingsteps quarry has completed the councils investigation into potential chemical contamination at the site.

The quarry was used as an unregulated local dump and has been informally adopted by locals for dog walking and countryside amenity.

Site works included 38 trial pits, eight hand pits and six boreholes for the collection of soil and groundwater samples.

In addition, a radiological survey discovered the presence of asbestos at a depth of 0.5m in one sample out of the 92 collected. Appropriate health and safety measures will be required for all future maintenance or ground work at the site.

Work will now begin in collaboration with the local community to identify proposals for site improvements, particularly in relation to upgrading the path network.

Energy minister visits Edinburgh integrated renewable energy project

(from left) Richard Jennings from Castle Rock Edinvar, energy minister Paul Wheelhouse and Sunamp’s Andrew Bissell
(from left) Richard Jennings from Castle Rock Edinvar, energy minister Paul Wheelhouse and Sunamp’s Andrew Bissell

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse joined representatives from thermal energy storage technology firm Sunamp and Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association at an event to mark the successful completion of Phase 2 of a unique project that is already cutting fuel costs for over 2,000 residents across Edinburgh and the Lothians.

With £3.2 million of funding from Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund (LECF), the EastHeat project to install solar panels and trial heat storage batteries in housing association properties was completed on time and within budget, creating employment for up to 70 people.

It is estimated that gas and electricity fuel costs will be cut by at least £120,000 per year across the project, and homes fitted with Sunamp’s heat storage batteries will benefit from up to £300 savings on hot water and heatingbills each year.

Sunamp Heat Batteries efficiently store heat energy using low-cost, off-peak electricity, or ‘free’ electricity from Solar PV. They release the heat when needed to provide hot water or home heating, all without the need for an immersion heater or hot water tank and provide a unique and valuable bridge between legacy heating systems using gas boilers and zero-carbon heat from solar and heat pumps. The non-toxic heat batteries use a novel phase-change material developed with the University of Edinburgh to store three to four times more heat than hot water tanks of the same size.

On average the solar PV generates 2500 kWh per year of which about 1000 kWh directly reduces electricity bills by around £150 per home per year. The SunampPV heat battery, installed in these homes, is proving it can more than double the self-consumption of solar electricity via the heat batteries, dramatically reducing the amount of gas or electricity used to make hot water.

Energy efficiency improvements were made at a total of 1190 properties across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Falkirk and Stirling. In other parts of the project Sunamp replaced hard to control, costly electric heating systems (including night storage heaters) with comfortable, controllable radiator-based systems equipped with heat batteries to allow the use of cheap, off-peak electricity.


£200,000 fund to help brighten up Edinburgh’s Old Town development site

Seven community groups in Edinburgh are being allocated funding to enhance the New Waverley development in the Old Town while it is still under construction.

Projects ranging from making Jacob’s Ladder steps more useable, lighting up the Arches during the winter/festive period, art installations and a graveyard planting scheme, will brighten up the area for residents and visitors alike.

The New Waverley Development Fund (NWCF) is a joint project between the City of Edinburgh Council and Artisan Real Estate Investors, the developers of New Waverley, which is one of the Edinburgh 12 sites. The total fund available was £200,000 including £100,000 being held by the council from a previous developer.

Community groups were asked to make bids for not-for-profit organisations for up to £25,000. In the first round of funding over £80,000 was allocated to six projects and the seven projects which were successful in the final funding round were allocated over £100,000. Together, the seven successful projects leveraged up to £50,000 of third party funding.


Dumfries and Galloway housing development wins national award for excellence

Hallam House
Hallam House

A supported housing development for people with disabilities in the Dumfries & Galloway village of Beeswing has scooped a top national housing award from the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland.

Hallam House, which was built by Loreburn Housing Association with additional funding from the Scottish Government and Dumfries & Galloway Council, consists of five purpose-built supported housing units for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, with a dedicated staff base. It provides local specialist care for people who previously had to be moved outside the area because of a lack of suitable supported accommodation.

The development scooped the Excellence in Development for Rented Properties Award at the CIH Excellence Awards categories on November 11.


Federation of Piling Specialists publishes SPERWall guidance document

The Federation of Piling Specialists has published the third edition of ‘The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Specification for Piling and Embedded Retaining Walls (SPERWall).’

The 2016 version of this preeminent document has been revised in response to developments in piling techniques and changes to European Standards, as well as taking into account modern forms of contract and procurement methods.

Divided into three parts, Part A is advisory, particularly for those procuring piling and diaphragm walling, whilst Parts B (the Specification) & C (Notes for Guidance) are now contiguous to each other for easier reading. Section 1, which discusses general requirements, has been extensively re-written, and the 20 sections which follow now include new chapters on micropiles and helical piles. The reference section has also been refreshed and includes relevant Eurocodes.

It is intended that the publication continues to be used as the UK national standard specification for piling and embedded retaining walls and that clients and designers will continue to refer only to SPERWall so that its standard clauses need not be reproduced for every contract. Where necessary, specifiers can make special amendments with the use of a Project Specification (which again is provided for in the new Specification).

The document is available for purchase from Thomas Telford and the ICE.


Kingdom Housing Association and Robertson Partnership Homes propose Newburgh affordable housing development

Kingdom Housing Association, together with Robertson Partnership Homes, has announced its intention to apply for planning permission in the coming weeks for an affordable housing development at Banklands in Newburgh.

The proposal is for 40 homes for affordable rent, built on a greenfield site on the southern edge of the town.

In the run-up to lodging the planning application with Fife Council, the Association is carrying out a public consultation exercise locally. It has already met with Newburgh Community Council to discuss the proposals, and will hold a public drop-in event at the Tayside Institute on Monday 21st November, from 3.30pm to 7.30pm, to which all neighbours and other interested parties are invited.


Scott Brown opens Edinburgh primary school sports hall

Cramond Primary SchoolScotland and Celtic footballer Scott Brown officially opened the new sports hall at Cramond Primary School yesterday afternoon.

Scott cut the ribbon of the new £1 million building with head teacher Helen Donaldson and the school’s eight Primary 7 house captains.

Cramond was one of four primary schools across the Capital, along with East Craigs, Towerbank and Sciennes, to get new sports hall or dining room extensions to meet requirements to provide free school meals for all P1 to P3s.

Previously the old school hall had doubled up as a dining room and was used for other school activities which limited the time for sport and PE activities.

The new sports hall was delivered by the council’s development partner, hub South East Scotland, with Morrison Construction appointed as the main contractor.


Council closes footbridge over safety concerns

A pedestrian footbridge has been closed in East Dunbartonshire due to concerns over its structural safety.

Engineers working for the local authority carried out an inspection of Westergartshore Footbridge between Pit Road and Chryston Road last week.

During the assessment, extensive corrosion and pitting was discovered throughout the structural steelwork of the five-span crossing.


Families living in new homes ‘slash fuel bills by half’

A new home built to the latest building regulations can cost half as much to heat as a Victorian house of the same size, according to a new report by the NHBC Foundation.

The advantages of new homes is based on a survey of 2,000 people who had recently moved into a new home and were asked what they considered the advantages of new homes to be. Many pointed to the energy efficiency benefits of new homes - the better standards of insulation enhanced draught-proofing and improved ‘airtightness’ that help to lower household annual energy bills, and improve levels of comfort.

The report shows that energy bills are expected to be around £440 lower in a modern one-bedroom ground floor flat, compared to its Victorian equivalent. And for a new build four-bedroom detached house, bills are estimated at £1,050 - saving £1,400 compared to those of a 19th century house.

Homeowners of newer properties were also drawn to the idea of buying a ‘blank-canvas’ ready to be personalised, free from the nasty surprises of previous owners’ DIY. They also commented positively on the contemporary, flexible layouts and modern facilities of new homes such as new kitchens, bathrooms and appliances, covered by manufacturers’ warranties.

The report outlines the safety advantages of new homes raised by some respondents - such as mains-powered smoke alarms, interlinked throughout the home, which are standard, and the benefits of safety glazing, safer stairs and the additional security features. But the advantages of new homes extend beyond the front door and many of the new homeowners surveyed considered that moving to a new development of like-minded people was also an attraction, allowing the opportunity to make new friends and neighbours in a new community.


Trainee joiner shortlisted for Adult Apprentice of the Year

Apprentice joiner Gordon Wilson
Apprentice joiner Gordon Wilson

An apprentice joiner from New College Lanarkshire is in contention for Adult Apprentice of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony.

Gordon Wilson is one of three apprentices to be shortlisted for the accolade at the Scottish Building Apprenticeship & Training Council (SBATC) Awards 2016.

The 33-year-old, who lives in Allanton, Shotts, combines his studies at the Motherwell Campus with working for Wilson Inglis Joiners in Bonkle, Wishaw.

A time-served stonemason, he has impressed his tutors after making the difficult decision to re-train as a joiner when the recession hit his own business.

He is now in his second and final year of the Level 3 SVQ in Carpentry and Joinery.

Gordon will join nominees across four categories at SBATC’s annual awards, which take place at the Scottish Parliament on Friday, November 18.

The winners of each category will receive £300, with runners-up receiving £200 and all finalists receiving £100.


Major progress at new Dundee housing site

Lochlee Wynd progressConstruction works at a new housing development in Dundee is progressing at pace as the first homes near completion at Lochlee Wynd, according to the site’s developers CCG (Scotland) Ltd.

CCG commenced preparatory works on its first private development in the city’s west end in August.

Since then, the company has completed the installation of their own enhanced timber frame system to five of the 17 homes available for private sale ensuring the first homes will be complete by mid-December.

The detached and semi-detached homes, available in three and four bedrooms, has attracted interest from prospective buyers.

CCG will also commence works on the adjacent six-unit ‘Concept Home’ for Blackwood this winter.

The three storey flatted development will sit adjacent to the private for sale housing comprising of six units and will introduce tenants to Blackwood’s smart technology called ‘CleverClogs’, a programme that enhances the care and support for their tenants as well as offering greater levels of flexible living.

CCG expects to complete ‘Lochlee Wynd’ by March 2017.


3.4 per cent annual increase in average house prices in Scotland

The average price of a property in Scotland has increased 3.4 per cent on the previous year and an increase of 0.2 per cent when compared to the previous month, according new figures.

The latest UK House Price Index (UK HPI) found that the average price for September 2016 was £143,006 in Scotland.

This compares to a UK average of £217,888, which was an increase of 7.7 per cent over the year and an increase of 0.2 per cent when compared to the previous month.

The top five local authorities in terms of sales volumes were the City of Edinburgh (1,169 sales), Glasgow City (992 sales), Fife (606 sales), South Lanarkshire (574 sales) and Highland (446 sales).

The biggest price increase over the last year was in East Renfrewshire where the average price increased by 15.7 per cent to £222,034. The biggest decrease was again in the City of Aberdeen, where prices fell by 10.3 per cent to £171,955.

Across Scotland, all property types showed an increase in average price when compared with the previous year, with detached properties showing the biggest increase of 4.4 per cent to £249,247.

The average price for a property purchased by a former owner occupier was £171,454 – an increase of 3.7 per cent on the previous year. The average price for property purchased by a first time buyer was £115,552 – an increase of 3.1 per cent on the previous year.

The average price for a cash sale was £132,032 – an increase of 3.5 per cent on the previous year – while the average price for property purchased with a mortgage was £148,075 – an increase of 3.4 per cent on the previous year.


Chinese power company opens new offices in Edinburgh

SDIC FMFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon opened the new offices of Red Rock Power Limited, a subsidiary of State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC) in Scotland.

SDIC, a Chinese state-owned investment holdings company, plans to invest further in renewable developments in Scotland, building on its existing offshore wind projects.

On a visit to Red Rock Power’s new offices on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, the First Minister had a productive meeting with Mr Wang Huisheng, chairman of the Board of SDIC, Mr Hu Gang, chairman of SDIC Power Holdings Co. Ltd and other SDIC senior executives from China.


Homes for Scotland supports Habitat for Humanity

Giving something back: Gill Henry, Cruden Homes (left) and Nicola Barclay, Homes for Scotland will be utilising their skills to support vulnerable communities during a week-long ‘Women’s Build’ in Mumbai in January
Giving something back: Gill Henry, Cruden Homes (left) and Nicola Barclay, Homes for Scotland will be utilising their skills to support vulnerable communities during a week-long ‘Women’s Build’ in Mumbai in January

Scotland’s home building industry is digging deep this month to support the vital work undertaken by Habitat for Humanity, a leading shelter charity providing the poorest and most vulnerable around the world with a decent place to call home.

Industry body Homes for Scotland (HFS) recently announced its partnership with the charity, and chief executive Nicola Barclay will be taking part in a ‘Women’s Build’ in Mumbai next January alongside colleague Gill Henry of Cruden Homes.

The week-long event will involve working on a building site to help extremely vulnerable communities living in poverty build their own homes.

The Homes for Scotland team fundraising page can be accessed here.

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