23rd May 2018
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Councillors voice frustration at Lerwick bias of new housing plans

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Councillors have called for a rethink about where to build 172 new council houses because 80 per cent of them are proposed for Lerwick.

Members of the services committee were pleased to be speaking about building much-needed council housing but fears were voiced repeatedly about the effect on rural areas of so many new homes in Lerwick and so few elsewhere.

The first 100 homes are already in the pipeline, 76 of them destined for Hoofields in Lerwick, 30 of which will replace existing caravans and chalets. Brae is to get 10 new houses, Bressay six, four in Virkie and two each for Burra and Sandwick.

The committee has backed those developments but baulked at the next phases which propose 62 houses at Staney Hill and 10 in landward areas in places yet to be decided upon.

Services vice-chairwoman Betty Fullerton said she was “not happy” about the proportion of houses coming to Lerwick, which she said was the choice of only 31 per cent of people applying for council houses.

The knock-on effect of people moving would be a need for more schools in Lerwick, she said, while rural schools would close due to lack of pupils.

Councillor Addie Doull said the problem had already been seen in Northmavine where people could not get a council house in the area and had to leave. The population in rural areas would be higher if enough houses were provided, he said.

The committee agreed with Mrs Fullerton’s call for a report providing a more accurate picture of people’s first-choice area to live in. With that information to hand the councillors will then decide where the other proposed 72 houses should go.

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