Building Briefs – November 4th

Balfour Beatty announces forthcoming board change

Duncan Magrath
Duncan Magrath

Balfour Beatty has today announced that Duncan Magrath will leave the business in 2015 following a process to appoint his successor.

He has been with the company for eight years, including six years as chief financial officer (CFO).

Duncan will continue as a member of the Board and as CFO until his successor has been identified.  A search to find a new CFO for Balfour Beatty is being initiated and a further announcement will be made in due course.


Plan for £12m film school at Straiton movie studio

A £130 million movie studio set for Edinburgh could nurture the stars of the future in an on-site film school.

Plans for the Pentland Studios in Straiton would transform a field on the outskirts of Edinburgh into the UK’s first purpose-built film studio.

And developers have revealed the site will also host a new £12m film school to seek out the directors, actors and producers of tomorrow, and keep home-grown talent in Scotland.

The proposed school, which would include two accommodation blocks and a main building, would train students in all aspects of the film and television industry, joining institutions such as England’s National Filmand Television School – where Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park and Harry Potter director David Yates are both notable alumni.

The proposals are being brought forward by ex-Ealing Studios director Jeremy Pelzer and former Warner Bros chief Jim O’Donnell.

If it goes ahead, the giant set – almost twice the size of Pinewood, where James Bond is shot – is expected to lure Hollywood blockbusters to the Capital, offering students experience of high-profile shoots.

And planners hope the new school will be leased and run by one of the city’s universities or colleges, with Mr O’Donnell insisting developers had already “started a conversation” with the institutions.


NHT development brings affordable homes to Clackmannanshire

Housing minister Margaret Burgess has announced the completion of 28 new affordable homes for rent in Clackmannanshire under the National Housing Trust initiative (NHT).

The development in Coalsnaughton is estimated to have unlocked around £4 million in housing development, and to have supported 40 jobs. Its completion brings the total number of NHT homes completed across Scotland to over 750.

The homes are the first to be delivered in Clackmannanshire under NHT, and will be available for rent to tenants at below market rates for five to 10 years. At the end of the rental period the homes will be being sold, with tenants being given the first option to buy.

Hadden Construction built the development, which comprises a mixture of eight flats and 20 houses.

Developed by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust, the NHT initiative is supported by a Scottish Government guarantee.


Tesco reviewing plan for new Fort William supermarket

Tesco has been reviewing its plans to build a store at Blar Mhor in Fort William.

It was understood that one of the options being considered was renting out the site it owns to other developers.

In a statement, the supermarket giant confirmed that it was reviewing its plans and was “considering all options”.

Tesco already has a Metro store in Fort William town centre.


Town plans go on show

Dumbarton residents and local business people are being invited to view new plans for a regenerated town waterfront, a new road link at Castle Street, and i­mprovements to Dumbarton Castle.

The new strategy will be displayed in the Artizan Hub of the Artizan Centre from next Thursday.


Dundee service plan shows improvements

The majority of Dundee City Council’s housing department’s priority performance indicators have either improved or stayed the same in the past year, councillors will be told next week.

The number of houses being built for rent has increased, along with visits made to give energy advice. It also reveals that 92.9 per cent of council houses are energy efficient and meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS).

Of the 12 ‘priority performance indicators’ identified in the report, due to go to the council’s housing committee on Monday (November 10) eight have improved by more than 5 per cent or remained the same.

The other four, have reduced by more than 5 per cent but targets have been set for 2017 and areas of work identified to improve the standards.


Kelso town centre investment completion celebrated

The conclusion of two major town centre projects costing some £2.8 million has been celebrated in Kelso.

Kelso Laddie Ross Henderson unveiled the completed £2m streetscape works in the town square.

They include a newly carved Kelso crest in the entrance to the town hall.


£4.6m upgrade for Glasgow station hotel

Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel is celebrating a makeover just four years after it re-opened.

The £4.6 million, fifth-floor expansion includes 46 upmarket bedrooms and suites.

The superior double rooms and junior suites boast Italian marble bathrooms, rainfall showers and roll-top baths.

Many of them also come with eight-foot-long wall mirrors that can be turned at the flick of a switch into large-screen LED televisions.

The four-star hotel’s refurbishment also includes a new entrance and ground-floor reception area complete with feature fireplace.

The 46 new rooms take the Grand Central’s overall tally to 230 and have also created 25 full-time or part-time jobs.

The change comes less than four years after the hotel was re-opened following an ambitious £20 million renovation.


Lack of homes on Skye ‘putting school at risk’

A lack of affordable housing for young families on Skye is putting the local primary school at risk of closure, a development trust has said.

Staffin Trust chairman Donald MacDonald said it was almost 20 years since any council or housing association houses had been built in the area.

The roll at Staffin Primary School has fallen from 55 pupils to 11 in the last eight years.

The trust is asking local crofters for land on which to build houses.

Staffin in north-east Skye has a population of more than 500 people who live in 23 different crofting townships dotted around Staffin Bay and the Trotternish Ridge.


Glenkerie wind farm extension decision delayed

A decision has been delayed on plans for an extension to an existing wind farm in Peeblesshire.

Members of Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee met to discuss the application for the site near Tweedsmuir.

Operators Infinis want to build another six turbines at Glenkerie, next to the existing 11 approved in 2008.

There have been 23 letters of objection to the bid but officials have advised that it should be given permission.

However, the council has decided to defer a decision on the plans.


Setback for charity opposing wind farm

A leading conservation body has suffered a serious setback to its legal challenge of the Scottish Government’s decision to approve a large-scale wind farm without a public inquiry.

The 67-turbine Stronelairg wind farm in the Monadhliath Mountains to the east of Loch Ness is being developed by energy giant SSE.

It was opposed by the Government’s advisory body on nature and landscape, Scottish Natural Heritage, and by the Cairngorms National Park Authority.


Council calls for fair deal on Shetland electricity charges

The leader of Shetland Islands Council is backing calls for power provider Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to explain why consumers in the highlands and islands pay a higher tariff on electricity charges than in the rest of the country.

The issue has been raised by the Western Isles Poverty Action Group, which is calling for the Scottish Government to back its campaign for SSE to remove a 2p per unit surcharge applied to its customers in the region.

The group has written to SSE for an explanation, and created an online petition to have the charge removed with immediate effect. Representatives from the Western Isles Council are due to meet with the company this week on the issue.


Further devolved powers should help tackle poor housing and homelessness

Shelter Scotland has urged the Smith Commission to ensure that further devolved powers could be used to tackle and address poverty and inequality with specific attention given to poor housing and homelessness.

In its submission to the Smith Commission, the panel set up to oversee the process of further devolution for the Scottish Parliament, the charity said further powers on social security spending should be devolved in a comprehensive and holistic way (with the exception of issues relating to pensions).

Shelter Scotland added that devolving Housing Benefit and social welfare spend more generally, demands full consideration of the tax powers of the Scottish Parliament as well as its ability to borrow through an economic cycle and the economic levers which drive the need for social welfare payments.