Building Briefs – October 10th

Wind farms with potential to power 1.4 million homes given green light

Four offshore wind farms that could provide enough energy to power over 1.4 million homes have received development consent, energy minister Fergus Ewing announced today.

Once completed, the developments in the Forth and Tay region - Neart Na Gaoithe, Inch Cape Offshore Limited, Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo - could be capable of generating up to 2.284 GW of electricity.

The consents are granted subject to strict conditions which will mitigate and monitor a range of potential impacts including those in relation to birds and other environmental considerations.

It is estimated that these four developments combined will produce carbon savings estimated at 135 million tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime.

The Forth and Tay offshore wind farm consents are available here.


Portable ‘pop up’ hotel built from shipping containers planned in Aberdeen

A portable “pop up” hotel made from shipping containers could be built in Aberdeen by former racing driver David Coulthard.

The 160-bed Snoozebox development could be constructed in the Bridge of Don area of the city.

Former F1 racing driver and Snoozebox president Coulthard helped the London-based firm make its name accommodating spectators at the British Grand Prix.

The temporary hotel would operate for around five years if Aberdeen City Council grants planning permission.


New 20MW wood-burning biomass plant proposed for Perth

A proposed 20MW wood-burning biomass plant is to be discussed by Perth and Kinross Council.

A proposal of application notice has been lodged for a renewable energy facility at the Inveralmond industrial estate.

The plant would feature four 40m tall stacks and would burn up to 200,000 tonnes of timber a year.

Three major biomass projects in other Scottish cities were dropped earlier this year.

A full planning application is expected in due course, and the proposal is to be debated by the council’s development management committee next week to identify potential issues with the scheme.

The proposed development, on two hectares of land currently used for agriculture directly to the west of the industrial estate, would export electricity to the national grid as well as providing heat to surrounding developments and businesses.


Gretna Star of Caledonia project faces fund doubts

The team behind plans for a landmark sculpture at the Scotland-England border says they are at “real risk” after missing out on major funding.

Creative Scotland has decided not to offer the Star of Caledonia at Gretna £1m of support.

The decision was due to the failure to secure other public sector funding commitments for the £5m scheme.

The Gretna Landmark Trust (GLT) said it was determined to see the “vision become a reality” despite the setback.

The Star of Caledonia at Gretna already has planning approval and the aim was to begin construction next year.


New apprentices started on Kingdom’s £3.5m Kirkcaldy project

Three Fife youngsters have started their construction apprenticeships on a £3.5 million development by Kingdom Housing Association in Kirkcaldy which will deliver 39 new one and two-bedroomed bed flats for rent.

Kingdom’s chairperson Charles Milne and chief executive Bill Banks made a site visit to inspect progress at the Pottery Road development and meet the apprentices employed by builder Lundin Homes.

As part of its Affordable Housing Programme, Kingdom incorporated various community benefits into the contract and employment and training opportunities were facilitated by Kingdoms employability team, Fife Works.

Lundin Homes is the association’s contractor for the project and with recruitment support from Fife Works, the firm recruited 2 joinery apprentices.

Through the Opportunities Fife Partnership, additional funding support was also identified and a successful application was made for Fife Youth Jobs Contract funding, which allowed Lundin Homes to recruit a third young person, as an apprentice plumber.

The total project cost is £3.5m and £1.16m in funding support has been provided to Kingdom by the Scottish Government to provide homes for mid-market rent.

The new flats are due for completion from January 2015 and rents will be in the range of £365 for a 1 bed flat and £445 for a 2 bed, per month. Mid market rent properties aim to provide high quality affordable housing for eligible applicants, who are in employment but may be unlikely to access social housing or are struggling to afford owner occupation or private renting.


Vision of Perth in the future revealed

A computer-generated video, which offers a virtual tour through the streets of the Perth of the future, is being described as an “important selling tool” for the city.

The short clip, which is being broadcast online, was put together as part of the Invest in Perth campaign and will be used to help bring more investment and businesses into the region.

It is based on Perth and Kinross Council’s recently published blueprint for the city over the next 10 years.

The projected timeline includes the long-awaited redevelopment of Perth Theatre, enhancements and improvements to the park and ride facilities on the city outskirts and improved infrastructure at access points.

According to the plan, by 2017, key streets and vennels will be enhanced to “complement a vibrant, mixed-use, 24 hour city centre.”


Council backs housing plan for former Aberdeen school site

A piece of city wasteland that has lain empty for two years is to be developed into housing after Aberdeen City Council approved plans to develop the site.

The former Summerhill Academy, which had initially been earmarked for a new Morrisons supermarket, will now be transformed into 350 mid-market homes for young professionals struggling to get on to the property ladder.

Housing convener Neil Cooney (pictured) confirmed the plans are expected to include a mixture of one and two bedroom houses and flats, with the majority apartments.

He said the development will help address the city’s lack of affordable housing, while indirectly providing funds for council housing projects.


New Madras College site projected costs rise by £2.7m

The projected costs of a new, single-site Madras College at Pipeland in St Andrews have risen by £2.7 million to £42.7m, Fife Council has confirmed.

Alan Paul, senior manager with property services, said the economic downturn had previously kept inflation low but as the economy, and the construction industry in particular, has started to pick up again, so have inflation rates.

A report on the issue was presented to this week’s meeting of the council executive committee.

A detailed planning proposal for the school — earmarked for the greenbelt land at Pipeland — had been expected to go before the council’s north-east planning committee in September.

However, it was deferred until October or November because a council consultant believed there is “insufficient information to determine whether the proposals meet the requirements of Fife Council in terms of flood risk”.

In a report submitted to the council planning service by consultants URS Infrastructure & Environment UK Ltd, it concludes the development will lead to betterment” of the environment, residential and hospital area flood risk.


D-Day for historic Strathmartine Hospital building

A crumbling Tayside building is facing “D-Day” over its future as developers and Angus Council try to thrash out plans that have been disputed for years.

The future of Strathmartine Hospital has been a subject of intense debate since it was closed in 2003. Over the years the 162-year-old building has fallen into disrepair.

Vandals have ravaged the historic site, smashing doors and windows, and setting parts of the building on fire.

Now, there is set to be a full council meeting on December 18 where the plans to create 26 flats in the listed section of the hospital and 198 homes elsewhere by planning consultants Muir Smith Evans will be run past councillors.

If the motion is rejected once again, campaigners trying to preserve the hospital fear Muir Smith Evans could pull the plans altogether and leave the hospital to lie in ruins.

The company says it would have to consider “very carefully” its next step should councillors say no.


Cracks in walls force Scottish ice rink to close

The ice rink at a Stirling’s £27m Sports Village has been closed after structural engineers discovered cracks in the walls.

The centre opened five years ago and was built by Barr Construction.

Structural engineers have discovered “structural weakness in the block work” at the ice rink.

The rest of the facilities at the centre are open and will continue to operate as normal.


New Town youth hostel opens its doors

Blackhall Developments has unveiled a 30 bed youth hostel on Rose Street Lane in Edinburgh’s New Town world heritage site.

The £400k scheme involved the Staran Architects led conversion of a red brick 19th century warehouse which had lain derelict for over 20 years prior to being purchased by Dundee-based developer DS Landsburgh.


Aberdeen mill to be transformed into media HQ

Grandholm Mill, a grade B listed industrial building in Aberdeen, is to be transformed into the headquarters of AVC Media as part of a six-figure redevelopment.

The visual effects and production business alighted on the historic premises, once the biggest woollen mill in Scotland, as part of efforts to give a new lease of life to the 222 year old structure noted for its production of the Crombie Coat - famously modelled by Peter Capaldi in his role as the new Dr Who.

AVC Media is set to move into its new home in February 2015.


£40m roads improvements in west Perth to be approved

Councillors will be asked to approve almost £40 million of roads infrastructure improvements, considered vital for future house building in west Perth.

The first phase of the Perth Transport Futures Project will be the A9/A85 to Bertha Park link.

The project will cost an estimated £39.2m for the first two phases.

The local authority had controversially given Sainsbury’s the green light to proceed with the planned £40m supermarket at the former Perth mart site on Crieff Road prior to work taking place on the A9/A85.

Then, in August, Sainsbury’s announced that it was not going ahead with the Crieff Road store, putting the roads infrastructure and future housing in west Perth back in the spotlight.

A report written by Jillian Robinson, roads infrastructure manager for Perth and Kinross Council, states that the local authority will need to acquire additional land and rights — either by negotiation or by compulsory purchase order (CPO) — to facilitate phase one of the project.

If approved, the move will result in the local authority trying to buy land near McDiarmid Park, which will be part of a design for new access to the stadium.

If the project goes to plan, the local authority should be in a position to award the contract for the roads work in December next year, with construction planned for early 2016.