21st May 2018
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Councillors urged to block housing plans for Scalloway

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Councillors are being urged to reject a major housing project proposed for Scalloway, seven months after it was kicked into the long grass pending the outcome of an appeal over a separate scheme in Tingwall.

A report before tomorrow”s planning committee recommends two separate applications for development at Utnabrake be refused. The first is for 21 housing units with parking and access roads, while the second is to build 24 blocks of affordable housing. Five private units are also included in the latter set of plans.

An area bordering the existing Tingwall Valley road has been earmarked for business and commercial development as part of the second application. A new health centre could also be part of the building project.

The report says there are no “mitigating or compelling material planning reasons, in terms of public benefit, infrastructure provision, or quality of design, which allow the planning service to recommend approval of proposals that are regarded as being significantly contrary to the development plan”.

It says the expansion of Scalloway is “in its entirety premature” and adds: “The details included in the submitted proposals represent a poorly designed layout for the growth of the settlement.”

The plans were delayed for two cycles in January until a decision was reached over an appeal on a separate scheme at Veensgarth. That application was originally refused over fears good agricultural land would be lost.

However the Scottish government subsequently ruled that did not constitute strong enough grounds to refuse the Veensgarth houses, although the distance of the development from amenities did.

Like Veensgarth, the Utnabrake houses are earmarked for good ground.

Despite the ruling the report says the government reporter’s decision presents planning with a “clear burden” to identify whether there is poorer land available in the general area.

It suggests the poorer ground where the business development is planned might be better served for houses.

“It has to be concluded … it has been demonstrated that there is poorer land within the area identified for development as a business park,” it says.

“It may be considered, subject to a proper site survey, that this area of land identified for development as a business park … would be where development of housing should be.”

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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