Grampian Housing Association’s old school refurbishment project has won architectural awards

GRAMPIAN HOUSING ASSOCIATION’s old school refurbishment project in Ballater has received prestigious recognition at the Aberdeenshire Architecture and Landscape Design Awards 2023. The project, located in Abergildy Road, not only took first place in the Building Communities for the Future category, it also For Commendation in the Building Conservation and Adaptation category.

Designed by Ian Rodger Architects and owned by Grampian Housing Association (GHA), the development features 24 properties available for social rent, comprising a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, as well as two and four-bedroom family homes.

The distinguished design team included Macchio and Porter as quantity surveyor, Ramsay and Chalmers as structural engineer, and Gordon Mitchell Contracting as builder.

It is worth noting that the project revived an endangered building, seamlessly blending the preservation of ancient structures with new construction through the use of modern materials. The quality of the renovation is emphasized by the use of real boards, traditional harling and lime mortar, keeping the timber openings and windows in harmony with the original design of the building. Modern extensions and annexes have been removed to return the school to its original design.

Ian Rodger, project architect, expressed his delight at the honour, saying: “We are very pleased to have been recognized in these two categories. “Well done to Grampian Housing Association, to be proud enough of the final scheme to put it forward for the award.”

Judges acknowledged the well-thought-out development, providing a variety of properties within the former school buildings and creating new properties on the site. With a strategic location and shared green spaces, the development fosters a welcoming and successful community.

Craig Stirratt, Chief Executive of Grampian Housing Association, highlighted the commitment to delivering attractive, well-designed and highly comfortable housing. He thanked Ian Rodger Architects for its contribution to the project’s success, emphasizing how the project meets housing needs while creating balanced communities through thoughtful planning and landscaping.

“In terms of the wider regeneration benefits, the building has been saved from decay, which is important for local residents,” Stirrat noted.

The Ballater project, identified in the Local Affordable Housing Plan, addresses the shortage in this rural area, giving more people the opportunity to remain in their local villages. The derelict listed building within the Ballater Conservation Area contributes to the wider community, providing jobs, supporting the local economy, and protecting the local primary school.

The development received Scottish Government funding of £1,791,984, with Grampian contributing £2,338,907 through capital borrowing. The value of the additional grant to Aberdeenshire Council was £198,000, with a total contract value of £3,464,710. The project is also eligible for Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) funding worth £282,000 over 20 years.

Grampian Housing Association has teamed up with Aberdeenshire Council to create the Local Rentals Scheme, ensuring local residents benefit from the new homes. The ground floor accommodation is aimed at elderly people and young single people. Properties equipped with accessible showers support a local family with a child with a disability.

In a pioneering move, Ballater is Grampian’s first development to trial Switchee, an intelligent asset management tool aligned with its sustainability strategy. It monitors the health of the building and optimizes energy use, which contributes to lower bills and reduced energy consumption, which benefits tenants and the environment.

Incorporating ground source heat pumps is consistent with sustainability efforts, providing heating and hot water while mitigating the carbon footprint and securing future properties from dependence on fossil fuels. Grampian Housing Association’s Ballater development is testament to thoughtful regeneration, community integration and sustainable housing practices.

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