Building Briefs – November 5th

Borders Railway sleepersTrapped Borders Railway worker cut free

A construction worker on the Borders Railway was airlifted to hospital after he was trapped by his overturned truck.

The accident happened as part of the track was being laid at Torwoodlee near Galashiels, on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters were called to the scene and had to cut the man free as the lorry was on its side.

He was then taken by helicopter from the remote spot to Borders General Hospital but was not seriously injured.


Progress on town centre regeneration highlighted in report

A report which highlights a range of measures taken to revitalise Scotland’s town centres has been published by the Scottish Government.

Published ahead of yesterday’s Parliamentary debate the Town Centre Action Plan – One Year On report reveals that a share of £2.75 million in funding was awarded to seven projects under the Town Centre Housing Fund, creating 82 units for affordable housing.

Other milestones that have been reached as part of the Action Plan, include:

  • Agreement between the Scottish Cabinet and COSLA on the Town Centre First Principle, where Government, public bodies, businesses and communities put the health of town centres at the heart of decision-making
  • An expansion of the Fresh Start business rates relief scheme to pubs, hotels and restaurants
  • Record numbers of business properties in Scotland benefiting from an extension of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, with 96,265 properties paying zero or reduced business rates in 2014-15, an increase of almost 4,000 properties since last year.
  • Growth in the number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) helping to support economic growth in town centres. There are currently 27 BIDs, with ballots on a further eight expected before April 2015.
  • Recognition of the role of town centres in the new National Planning Framework 3 and Scottish Planning Policy
  • A share of £2.75m in funding awarded to seven projects under the Town Centre Housing Fund, creating 82 units for affordable housing
  • A £186,000 grant to strengthen the role of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) as the ‘go-to’ body for advice on town centre development

Publication of the report coincides with an announcement of close to £300,000 in funding towards two initiatives intended to support town centre regeneration.


Highland councillors to discuss Stromeferry bypass plans

Highland councillors are due to discuss funding plans for a solution to the landslide-hit A890 Stromeferry bypass in Wester Ross.

The road remains only partially open after rock falls closed the bypass last month.

Options to overcoming the problems cost between £85m and £132m. Highland has £10m available for the work needed.

Councillors meeting in Inverness are to be asked to agree that officers begin work to find sources of funding.

When the route was closed for four months - from 22 December 2011 to 23 April 2012 - it cost Highland Council £2.8m to deal with the aftermath of the landslide.


Fife affordable housing investment continues despite budget challenges

Against a backdrop of financial pressure and savings of £77 million to be made, Fife Council is keen to remind people of its commitment to deliver more affordable homes across the Kingdom.

The council has an established target to deliver 2700 new homes for rent by 2017.

The latest contribution to this investment will be a development of 21 homes for rent in Cellardyke after agreeing a contract with Muir Homes to build the properties.

Work will begin on the site at the old Silverdyke Caravan Park on Windmill Road and is due to be completed by Autumn 2015.

The development will be made up of a mix of 1 and 2-bed cottage flats, 2-bed semi-detached bungalows, 2 and 3-bed houses and one 4-bed house.

The Silverdykes development also received £294,000 of Scottish Government funding.


Bridge over the Kilmarnock Water

The construction of the £1.85 million Dean Ford Bridge is well underway.

The foundations are in place and the bridge is starting to take shape with box culverts being lowered into position on the Kilmarnock Water.

Following a competitive tendering process, RJ McLeod Ltd was awarded the contract to construct the bridge back in May 2014. Following which, design and manufacture of the pre-cast elements of the bridge began with the complex site works starting in August.

The new road bridge will incorporate a pedestrian footway on both sides and once completed the temporary footbridge which is in place at the moment will be removed.

It is anticipated that Dean Bridge will be completed by the end of February 2015.


More options for town centre living in East Ayrshire

New council housing in town centre locations has helped ensure that East Ayrshire’s town centres are fast becoming even more attractive places to live, work and visit, the council has heard.

At a Cabinet meeting last week, Councillors were advised of progress made in relation to the new council house build programme and town centre improvements.

New council houses are being built in 11 locations across East Ayrshire, providing 197 comfortable, modern, fit -for-purpose dwellings for approximately 550 local residents.

Work is currently underway at several sites including West Langland’s Street, Hillhead Crescent, Portland Street, Witch Road and Rennie Street, all Kilmarnock, and Skeoch Road, Mauchline, Robertland Square in Stewarton, Chapel Lane in Galston and Ayr Road in Cumnock.

In addition, as part of East Ayrshire Council’s Housing Improvement Programme, 850 new kitchen and bathrooms were installed during 2013/14. Looking forward, a total of 351 new houses will be built across East Ayrshire by 2017.

Heritage-led regeneration projects in both Cumnock and Kilmarnock have also played a key role in help to improve the local town centre environment.


Scotland’s most expensive postcodes revealed

Edinburgh and Aberdeen are home to Scotland’s most expensive postcodes, according to figures from Registers of Scotland (RoS).

The statistics, based on sales over £1 million between January and September this year, reveal the most affluent areas in Scotland.

The New Town in Edinburgh saw the highest number of high value properties changing hands, with nine sales ranging between £1m and £1.8m.

The next three most expensive postcodes are all in the south west of Aberdeen, covering areas such as Cults, Rubislaw and Milltimber. Sixteen properties across three AB15 postcode sectors sold for between £1m and £2.2m.

Five of the six remaining top ten most expensive postcodes are claimed by Edinburgh, with 18 properties selling for between £1m and £2m.

Aberdeen makes one further appearance, with AB13 eighth in the table, having seen three properties sell for over £1m.

In the first nine months of the year, 92 properties were sold for over £1m. Fifty-one of these had an Edinburgh postcode, while 21 were sold in Aberdeen. The remaining 20 properties were sold in areas across Scotland including Glasgow, Auchterarder and Bridge of Weir.

In the same period last year, 71 properties over £1m changed hands; 45 in Edinburgh, 10 in Aberdeen, and 16 across the rest of Scotland.


UCATT warns employers on use of dangerous and illegal agency crane drivers

Construction union UCATT have written to major contractors warning them not to use illegal agency workers to try to undermine the HTC Plant Ltd crane strike which begins this Friday (November 7th).

The use of agency labour to undermine legal industrial action is prohibited under employment law.

UCATT crane drivers employed by HTC Plant Ltd have announced three 24 hour strikes on successive Fridays on November 7th, 14th and 21st in a dispute over pay. The 180 plus UCATT members voted, 94 per cent in favour of strike action on a turnout in excess of 80 per cent.

UCATT are also warning that if anyone undertakes crane driving duties without the full training and without being fully familiar with the particular crane, than there are huge safety implications for all workers on that construction site.


Avonside works on landmark project

Avonside Group Services has finished work on a prestigious project involving an Edinburgh landmark listed as a Category C building by Historic Scotland.

Avonside’s East Scotland branch has re-roofed the turret of the former Barnton Hotel. The building was erected almost 120 years ago in 1895 but closed its doors in 2004, after which it fell into disrepair and appeared on the Scottish Civic Trust’s Buildings at Risk Register.

It is now undergoing a redevelopment and will enjoy a new lease of life as residential apartments.