Building Briefs – September 22nd

Bishopmill HouseHousing plan for former Elgin care home site

Councillors have approved plans to demolish a former care home in Elgin to make way for housing.

Bishopmill House has been empty since the late 1990s, and only used since then for emergency accommodation during local flooding events.

The premises is dated, deemed to be in a poor condition and unsuitable for refurbishment due to the high cost involved. Other commercial uses have been investigated by Moray Council but all have been unviable.

Demolition of the property is estimated to cost £130,000, but this will be recouped by the sale of the site for housing development.


Work starts on residential developments at Edinburgh’s Quartermile

Work is underway on two residential development buildings in the Edinburgh Quartermile development.

The two buildings will deliver 135 apartments in total.

Quartermile Developments said the residential buildings, along with other projects on the site, including construction of the £50 million Quartermile 4 office building, represent £150m of combined gross development and will support more than 500 jobs.

When complete Quartermile will comprise 1,050 apartments, 370,000 sq ft of Grade A offices and 65,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.


Glasgow City Council given new powers to tackle slum housing

Glasgow City Council has become the first council in Scotland to be granted powers to designate an Enhanced Enforcement Area (EEA) in an effort to clamp down on rogue landlords.

The local authority had sought permission from the Scottish Government for four blocks in Govanhill bordered by Calder Street, Annette Street, Dixon Avenue and Westmoreland Street to be designated as an EEA under Section 28 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, which came into effect in June.

The ruling means that landlords of tenements in the area could be compelled to submit to a criminal record check, produce a buildings insurance policy, and provide safety certificates.

Other powers under the EEA will be a right of entry to rented properties where there have been complaints about the way they are being managed.

This will allow council officers to gauge the scale of any problem and initiate enforcement action against the landlord where necessary.


£1m investment in Glenrothes learning centre

Plans have been formally submitted for a £1 million renovation and expansion of Auchmuty Learning Centre in Glenrothes.

Having seen huge demand for its services in recent years, the Fife Council investment has been deemed crucial to bring the centre up to date.

The investment will see a complete overhaul of the building, with new learning areas and classrooms established.

Meanwhile, an elderly underfloor heating system will be replaced, while new windows will be put in place to cut energy bills.

The car park will also be expanded to cater for the building’s growing popularity.


Aberdeenshire Council offers year’s grace to empty home owners

Owners of empty properties in Aberdeenshire are to be given up to a year before an additional council tax fee is applied, as part of an effort to bring homes back into use more quickly.

Since April this year, certain unoccupied properties have been subject to an additional 100 per cent council tax charge, to discourage owners from keeping them empty in the long term and to help increase the supply of housing.

Following concerns from some property owners across Scotland, the Scottish Government allowed councils to use discretion in applying the extra charge.

Discussing this discretion, Aberdeenshire Council agreed that the additional charge should not be applied for up to a year in a number of situations.

The move aims to help those renovating properties, or struggling to sell or let their accommodation. It will also help owners struggling to meet occupancy criteria for a second home, or where a break from the extra charge may help the property to be brought back into use sooner.


Natural Retreats proposes CairnGorm ski centre revamp

The operator of the CairnGorm Mountain snowsports centre, near Aviemore, plans to revamp the site and add new features including an artificial ski slope.

Natural Retreats also wants to make improvements to the restaurant, offer conference space and increase its facilities for making snow.

The company has started a consultation on its plans.

The ski centre in the Cairngorms National Park is owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Highland Council has been informed of the proposals.


Forres High Street pavement works set to continue

The next phase of work on upgrading the pavements in Forres High Street will get under way next week.

It will involve the section between Gordon Street and Auchernack and will last around eight weeks.

The existing concrete footways will be replaced with coloured concrete block paving and will continue the red and grey theme originally agreed with Forres Community Council.


Structural problems force road closure at Angus bridge

Angus Council has closed the road at Balintore Bridge until further notice due to structural problems with the bridge foundations.

There is no alternative route and so residents to north of bridge will be diverted east via U394, while the maintenance work is carried out.


Contract win big break for Inverness glazier

Inverness firm Cairngorm Windows is celebrating a move into a new market after winning a contract worth more than £100,000 for work at North Highland College UHI in Dornoch.

The job of fitting 95 timber sash and case windows and doors will be completed by December in the historic former Burghfield House Hotel, where Lord Northcliffe used to spend his summers.

An additional final phase is at an advanced stage of negotiation.

The firm, which has traditionally manufactured PVC windows, said it had seen a gap in the market for high specification timber windows. Four new installers have been hired and trained up as a result.

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