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Councillors back Seabraes offices made from shipping containers

23 Feb 2012

Fledgling companies in the creative industries will shortly have the opportunity to move into some much needed office space thanks to an innovative pilot project earmarked for a former railyard site in Seabraes.

A planning application, spearheaded by Scottish Enterprise, was approved by the council's development management committee this week. Under the plan, the three-storey structure will be built from 18 shipping containers with the main aim of the scheme to attract more creative industries to the city.

During the committee meeting, west end councillor Fraser Macpherson sought assurances from the applicant that the unusual building blocks would not jar against the surrounding buildings.

He said: ''There are concerns that the containers won't integrate with the local design.''

In response, Ged Young from the applicant's agent AIM said the design of the building fits with the area's industrial past.

He added: ''They are not old containers and their condition will look as if they are virtually new. They come with a 25-year warranty and I believe it will stand the test of time.''

It had been argued that Dundee lacked the type of flexible office space that would attract start-up digital companies to Dundee. Although the city can boast success stories, many businesses were said to be looking elsewhere and therefore draining away the city's rich talent pool of graduates.

Backers of the plan hope that more businesses will now take advantage of the Seabraes site.

But Councillor Jimmy Black questioned Scottish Enterprise on similar projects found elsewhere which had failed to attract the level of interest anticipated.

Peter Noad of Scottish Enterprise acknowledged that it was a ''risky venture'' but added that extensive research had been carried out.

He said: ''I think that the private sector has been unable to make it work in Dundee and I believe the public sector should come in and support this industry.''

The second hand shipping containers have been specially adapted to form offices and once built will include communal meeting rooms, toilets and showers, plant and 'break out' areas.

Dundee's director of city development Mike Galloway recommended to the committee to approve the application.

He said: ''It's important that councillors don't look at this application as a pile of containers and should not be viewed as a temporary structure.''

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