In the news this week, w/e October 6

Urban restoration funding announced for seven Scots towns

THE week began with an announcement that seven towns are to be each awarded £20m, to assist in their urban restoration, over a period of ten years.

The towns – Greenock, Irvine, Kilmarnock, Coatbridge, Clydebank, Dumfries and Elgin – are to receive funding from the UK Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ department.

Says a UK Government media release, here: “The government has unveiled 55 towns that will benefit from a £1.1 billion levelling-up investment, as part of a long-term plan for towns that provide long-term investment in towns that have been overlooked and taken for granted. 

“Towns that will be given the opportunity to develop a long-term plan supported by a Towns Board include six in the north-east [of England], ten in the north-west, and four in the West Midlands. In total, 55 towns will benefit from the UK-wide approach, including seven towns in Scotland and four in Wales.  

The announcement adds: “More than half the population live in towns, but half-empty high streets, run-down town centres and anti-social behaviour undermine towns in every part of the UK. [This] announcement marks a change in approach that will put an end to people feeling like their town is ignored by Westminster and empower communities to take back control of their future, taking long-term decisions in the interests of local people.”

The funding seems dependent on a long-term town plan having been first drawn up.

For one analysis, Professor Leigh Sparks – chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership – writes here.

Bloomin’ marvellous

ELSEWHERE, millions of flower bulbs and wildflowers are being planted across Glasgow, in a project being carried in association with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Says the local authority, here: “It comes as the RSPB’s State of Nature 2023 report found that 11 per cent of Scottish species are threatened with extinction and Scottish wildlife has decreased on average by 15 per cent since 1994.”

Glasgow City Council adds: “A 3.3km stretch of central reservation on Great Western Road from Duntreath Avenue in Drumchapel to Anniesland Cross is being transformed as part of the citywide project which will receive £1.5million in funding. Nectar-rich spring / summer flowering bulbs and 10,000m2 of wildflowers are being planted which will look attractive as well as nurturing wildlife. The bulbs are being planted now and the flowers will be planted next spring. The plants will include cowslips, grape hyacinth, narcissus, ox eye daisies, snakes head fritillary and crocus.”

New, music role proposed for former Royal High School

THE iconic former Royal High School in Edinburgh is set to become the home of a National Music Centre.

It follows news (here) – in August – that plans had been dropped to turn the Thomas Hamilton-designed building into the home of the already existing St Mary’s Music School, currently based in the west end of the city.

Says an announcement from the Royal High School Preservation Trust, here: “The new plans, which are being generously funded by a £45m grant from Dunard Fund, will see the building transformed into the new National Centre for Music. The existing building will be repurposed to feature clearly-defined spaces for education, community engagement and performance all set in fully-accessible public gardens, making music available for all.”

Planning permission for Princes Street proposal

PLANS for a new hotel on Edinburgh’s Princes Street have been approved by the local authority.

The hotel – to be developed by Munich-based Ruby Hotels – is earmarked for 104-108 Princes Street.

Formerly occupied by retailers, Next, Zara and Russell & Bromley, the building is set for demolition, with its replacement expected to be completed in three years’ time.

It is expected to be a £100m development.

‘Affordable’ homes for Argyll and Bute

WORK has been completed on 300 ‘affordable’, energy-efficient homes in one of Scotland’s more rural areas: Argyll and Bute.

Says the Scottish Government, here: “The development, which received £35 million in funding from the Scottish Government alongside additional funding from Argyll and Bute Council and [housing association] Link Group, represents an important contribution to the housing need in Argyll and Bute.

“The majority of the new homes are for social rent, and all of them have air-source heat pumps to provide affordable energy and tackle fuel poverty in an area that is off-grid. A number have been adapted to make them more accessible.”

Planning permission being sought for large-scale Glasgow development

PLANNING permission is being sought for a large-scale housing and student accommodation development in the centre of Glasgow, alongside the M8 motorway and the city’s Kingston Bridge.

Earmarked for a ‘brownfield’ 4.43 acre siite, the plans (main illustration) have been submitted on behalf of property developers, Summix.

Says a media release, here, issued on their behalf: “Summix Capital is seeking to deliver a truly mixed-use development – comprising residential, purpose-built student accommodation, and commercial uses (including food /drink and retail uses), with associated landscaping / public realm, parking and access to a range of sustainable travel options.

“The development site, formerly the Harland & Wolff Finnieston Diesel Engine Works, has lain derelict for over half a century and its regeneration heralds a significant investment in Glasgow. Delivering more than 400 much-needed homes for private sale, it will also serve to address a well-recognised shortfall in student accommodation in the city.”

It is understood the plans include capacity for 934 students.

Battery plans

PLANNING permission is expected to be submitted later this year for an energy battery ‘farm’ capable of meeting – when fully charged – the average electricity demands of 600,000 homes for a two-hour period.

Says an announcement issued by Banks Renewables, here: “[We are] expecting to invest over £100m into developing Pond Energy Park, which will see a section of an industrial park near Bathgate [West Lothian] re-designed into a two-hectare battery site.”

Batteries are being widely proposed to fill any electricity gap caused by a drop in power provided by renewable energy sources, not least solar and wind.

Herald Property Awards

ALMOST finally, congratulations to the winners and highly commended at property awards (here) run by The Herald newspaper (which reports the story, here).

They are:

Best show home

  • The Gullane, Inchmarlo – Kirkwood Homes – winner
  • The New Steiner – Grant Murray Architects Ltd – highly commended

Best luxury home

  • Balquhidder, Torwood Glen – Heritage Homes – winner
  • The Mitchell Grand, Thorn View – Robertson Homes – highly commended

Best family home (small)(199sqm floor area and under)

  • The Tassie at Pollokshaws Living – Urban Union – winner
  • The Glenisla, Snowdrop Gardens – Snowdrop Developments – highly commended

Best family home (large)(200sqm floor area and above)

  • Mitchell Garden Room, Hamilton Heights – Robertson Homes – winner
  • Caldwell View, Uplawmoor – The Wee House Company – highly commended

Best apartment

  • North & South Block, Torwood – AMA Homes & Oberlanders Architects – winner
  • Flat 5/1, 57 Yorkhill Street, The New Steiner – Grant Murray Architects Ltd – highly commended

Best renovation and conversion

  • Seafield House, Ayr – Econstruct Group – winner

Individual new-build or small development

  • ‘The Skinny House’, Bridge of Allan – Crammond Select Homes – winner
  • Creag na h-Iolaire – G Simpson Builders Ltd – highly commended

Best regeneration project – commercial

  • Topgolf Glasgow – Ashfield Land Ltd – winner

Best regeneration project – residential

  • Queens Quay, Clydebank – Loretto Housing Association, part of Wheatley Group, in partnership with Clydebank Housing Association, West Dunbartonshire Council and MAST Architects – winner
  • Laurieston Living – Urban Union – highly commended

Property team of the year

  • The Wee House Company – winner

Estate agency of the year

  • Northwood North East – winner

Residential sales team of the year

  • Upload Abode – winner

Residential letting team of the year

  • MacLeod and MacCallum – winner

Green supplier of the year

  • Aico | HomeLINK – winner

Interior design commercial

  • Virgin Hotels Edinburgh – Ica Studio – winner

Interior design residential

  • The Old Mill – Braco Designs – winner

Green housing award

  • 107 Niddrie Road – Southside Housing Association with CCG (Scotland) and John Gilbert Architects – winner

Affordable housing development of the year

  • Phase 10 – Abbeycraig Road – Lochfield Park Housing Association – winner
  • Bunston Grove, Inverclyde – McTaggart Construction Limited and Link Group – highly commended

Commercial project of the year

  • National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland – HLM Architects – winner
  • Virgin Hotels Edinburgh – Ica Studio – highly commended

Development of the year

  • Longniddry Village – Cruden Homes & Places for People – winner
  • Cammo Meadows – Cala Homes (East) – highly commended
  • Five South, Giffnock – Westpoint Homes – highly commended

Planning permission secured for ‘state-of-the-art’ archives facility

A PROPOSED ‘state-of-the-art’ archives facility in Midlothian – which is expected to become the first public building in Scotland to operate to strict energy-efficiency and carbon emissions targets – has secured planning permission from the local authority.

The building – scheduled for the town of Bonnyrigg – has been proposed to store records and archives belonging to the Scottish Government agency, Historic Environment Scotland.

Says HES, here: “The project is expected to be completed in 2026 and aims to be the first public building to be designed and built implementing the new Scottish Government Net Zero Public Sector Building Standard Standard, in conjunction with Passive House EnerPHit standard, which takes into account not only the carbon emissions of the building while in use, but also the carbon emissions associated with the building materials, construction and maintenance.”

Making school grounds more ‘climate-friendly’

A SUITE of resources has been launched to help school grounds become more ‘climate-friendly’.

Say the publishers of the resources – the Scottish Government agency, Architecture & Design Scotland, here: “The outdoor areas of Scotland’s schools are often at the heart of communities – seen and used daily for learning and play. They make up 14 per cent of local authority-owned land in Scotland. However, 84 per cent of that area is either grassland or hard surfaces, which are poor environments for our changing climate, biodiversity, learning, and play. Making adaptations here would mean visible and accessible changes for the whole community to see while creating inspiring spaces for learning and play.”

Community ownership

THE number of ‘assets’, such as land and buildings, now in community ownership increased last year by two per cent on the previous 12 months.

Figures released by the Scottish Government – here – show that there were 754 ‘assets in community ownership’ in Scotland up to the end of last year – an increase of 16 from 738 in 2021. These are owned by 505 groups.

Glasgow again uses compulsory purchase powers

FOR the second time in almost as many weeks, Glasgow City Council has approved the compulsory purchase of empty properties, with a view to increasing the stock of ‘affordable homes’ in the city.

Hard on the heels of a compulsory purchase order of properties near the city centre – reported here on placedesignscotland – the local authority this time has cast its sights eastwards, approving the compulsory purchase of three flats in Easterhouse.

Says the council, here: “The three Easterhouse flats – at G/02 and 1/02, 102 Lochdochart Road and 1/01, 3 Dunphail Drive – have been identified as long-term empty homes and will be brought back to productive use by Lochfield Park Housing Association.

“The compulsory purchase of these flats will allow the housing association to acquire them and offer as ‘socially-rented’ homes.”

The council has also approved the disposal of one of its own sites, in Laurieston, just south of the River Clyde. Adds the announcement: “The Laurieston site – at Bedford Street / Eglinton Street – owned by the council contains a derelict former local repair team depot and surrounding land.

“The site will be sold off-market to New Gorbals Housing Association, who will build social housing there and on an adjacent site that they already own.

Spotted a news story you think should be brought to the attention of Place Design Scotland readers? Use our ‘Contact us’ link on the front page of the site, to get in touch. Thanks, in anticipation.

Main picture: The Summix proposal, Picture credit: Summix; Subsidiary picture (1): Tollcross Park, Glasgow, Picture credit: Glasgow City Council; Subsidiary picture (2): Artist’s impression, Picture credit: Royal High School Preservation Trust; Subsidiary picture (3): 104-108 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Picture credit: 3DReid.

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