Building Briefs – November 8th

  • Creative and business hub officially opens on Leith Walk

Part of the old tram depot on Leith Walk has been brought back to life as modern office space and a creative hub.

‘Leith Walk Studios’ officially opened today, marking the completion of a regeneration project made possible through capital grant funding of £750,000 from the Scottish Government and a further £550,000 from the City of Edinburgh Council.

Last used for trams 60 years ago, the project has brought the ‘at risk’ listed former tram offices on Leith Walk back into long-term productive use. The 1930s art deco building has been comprehensively restored as a ‘partnership centre’ bringing together employees from the council, NHS Lothian and Capital City Partnership to promote joint working and better services.

The community and arts development organisation Out of the Blue (OOTB) has also partnered with the council to manage seven shipping containers which were recycled and refurbished by local social enterprise, Rebuild, to create affordable workspaces for local artists and entrepreneurs. Tenants of the units include musicians, painters, and designers who are using the spaces to create their own work and teach their skills to the local community.

The project has been delivered by the council’s development partner, hub South East, with Morrison Construction as the lead contractor.


  • Scottish firm secures place on £240m Leicester City Council Construction Framework

CBES has secured a place on the £240 million Leicester City Council Construction Framework which will deliver capital projects across the city.

CBES has been appointed to Lot 2 covering projects ranging in value between £0.25m and £0.75m. The framework will run for an initial two years with an option to extend for a further two years.

The framework will cover projects in schools, cultural facilities, economic development schemes, city centre regeneration, transport & public realm and commercial redevelopment of sites.

CBES has already completed its first project under the framework with an internal remodelling project at the English Martyr’s Catholic School. The project covered the reconfiguration of four first floor classrooms to provide a new spacious classroom and facilities, as well as minor works to other classrooms and the refurbishment of the school art room.


  • Scottish housing market still resilient in the face of negative news

In October, house prices in Scotland continued to rise in the face of uncertainty, according to the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey.

Looking at the UK as a whole, prices are now falling nationally but the regional picture remains varied. 

In the October survey, 44% more respondents saw a rise in prices rather than a fall in Scotland. As prices fall across the UK, with the weakest reading since September 2012, Scotland and Northern Ireland are seeing the strongest growth with the drop mostly stemming from London and the South East, with the price balance in the South East deteriorating during October. 

Three-month price expectations are also positive with 19% more respondents predicting a further rise. This trend continues when looking at the outlook for the year ahead in Scotland, with 58% of respondents predicting a further rise (rather than fall).

The rise in price trends is partially driven by a continuing lack of supply. Looking at new instructions, and the dearth of stock in Scotland, 16% more respondents saw a fall rather than rise in new instructions over the month which continues a trend going back to summer 2015.

Although demand from buyers in Scotland has remained resilient, October saw a slight decline – potentially due to the lack of stock, continued uncertainty, and winter slowdown. In October, 13% more respondents reported a fall in buyer interest. Near term sales expectations however, continue to rise.


  • Sanctuary goes back to drawing board with Aberdeen flats plan

Sanctuary Scotland has vowed to resubmit proposals to develop new flats in Aberdeen after taking the decision to withdraw its initial application after an appraisal of the housing market in the city.

The Association lodged plans to build 65 affordable units across three different blocks of flats as well as a communal square for occupants at Donside Urban Village.

Each block was to be of a different height, ranging from three floors to six, each encompassing two-bed flats.

However it is understood that Sanctuary now believes there are too many two-bedroom flats in the city and has chosen to review its options before submitting a further application.

Gillian Lavety, Sanctuary’s development director for Scotland, said: “Our proposals for this development will be resubmitted to accommodate a change in the tenure and a mix based on Aberdeen City Council’s housing need and demand.”

Sanctuary has already delivered a £52 million first phase at the Donside Village. Other Sanctuary developments in the city include the £19 million transformation of the former HMP Craiginches into 124 homes for affordable rent.


  • Perth sheltered housing revamp completed

A £635,000 refurbishment project has been completed at Carpenter Court Sheltered Housing in Perth.

The works involved the construction of a new glazed sun-room, as well as refurbishments to the communal lounge.

The central courtyard was fully redesigned and landscaped with new exterior lighting, raised planters, seating areas, non-slip paving and astro turf surfaces. A new pergola and patio area was also creating during the works.

Other upgrades included a new assisted bathing facility, updated walls and flooring, and upgraded communal lighting and signage.

The new designs are aimed at helping those with dementia and to make the circulation areas brighter, safer and more comfortable to move about in.


  • South Ayrshire Council continues green investment commitment

South Ayrshire Council is making good progress when it comes to tackling climate change, helping residents recycle and promoting energy efficient homes.

A recent report highlights that the council has helped residents save nearly 18 thousand tonnes of CO2, through 453 properties receiving external wall installations. 

Based on current prices, these properties will benefit from a staggering reduction in fuel bills of £4 million spanning the lifetime of the installations.

Householders are doing their bit to help recycle as much waste as possible. Residents have helped the council achieve a recycling rate of 55% and are embracing the new kerbside recycling service which will help us reach the Scottish Government target to recycle 70% of household waste by 2025.

The council said it is determined to keep this momentum going and is working on a sustainable development and climate change strategy to help drive forward change.

One of the big wins in terms of carbon reduction has been the council’s increasing use of electric vehicles. There are now 10 council electric vehicles on our roads with another 7 expected by the end of January 2019.

Another major commitment to tackling climate change is the council’s pledge to stop the use of single use plastics by 2022. Plastic straws are no longer available from council premises and the council is looking to remove other items such as plastic bottles, coffee cups and lids, plastic cutlery, plastic bags etc.