14th August 2018
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New caravan group sets its sights on Seafield

The former Seafield hockey pitch could become a new caravan and camping site. Inset: Finlay MacBeath. Photo: Jim Nicolson

The former Seafield hockey pitch could become a new caravan and camping site. Photo: Jim Nicolson

A development group is being set up to improve camping and caravanning in the isles as well as promoting the leisure activity for the future.

The hockey pitch at Seafield could be the new venue for a new caravan and camping site if the Shetland Caravan and Camping Development Group (SCCDG) can secure funding and show that the proposal is viable.

Last November caravan enthusi­asts discovered only through this news­paper that Shetland Recrea­tional Trust had sold the existing campsite at Clickimin to the SIC and that the site would close.

Since then several local caravan owners have got together to set up the SCCDG, which is looking into establishing a new site in Lerwick which is equally good if not better site than previously existed.

Group chairman Gary Leask said the new group was separate from the Shetland Caravan Club which would still exist. But at the annual meeting of the caravan club this year he and Finlay MacBeath stepped down in order to set up the new group.

Finlay MacBeath: The new group is looking into the possibility of developing the site.

Finlay MacBeath: The new group is looking into the possibility of developing the site.

Mr MacBeath said: “When the Clickimin site closed some local caravan owners and enthusiasts immediately got together to try to secure a parcel of land in Lerwick for a new campsite.

“We approached the SIC and several sites were viewed including sites at the Knab which had poor access and at the Gilbertson Park [which] was in the middle of a residential area. None proved to be suitable apart from a site at Seafield – the [former] hockey pitch.

“At this point we are only looking at the possibility of developing this particular site, but initial negotiations have been very positive and we have a lot of people who are willing to come on board with the development of this site. Already there have been verbal offers of help.”

Early negotiations with SIC have suggested a long-term lease on the site.

Mr Leask said: “At the moment we are still very much at the stage of formalising ideas. Initial plans for the site have been drawn up but they are not official and changes might need to be made, but we are looking to provide a site with access for up to 30 caravans as well as a tented area.

“Improvements would be made to the existing toilet block [at Sea­field] but a further building would also be constructed to provide more toilets with showers and laundry facilities, possibly a kitchen, office and reception space.”

The site would be terraced with new drainage and the group will be looking into the provision of environmentally friendly surfaces for hard-standing for the caravans.

Mr MacBeath said: “We want to establish a park akin to mainland sites and this would include stances for disabled drivers whereby they could simply drive into a caravan stance without the need for awkward manoeuvring.

“At Seafield we would hope to provide up to five such stances. We would also like to provide a wash bay for caravans as some visitors have expressed concerns about the effects of salt spray on caravans.

“The rule on caravan and camping sites is that washing of caravans in stances is not allowed but a desig­nated bay would resolve this issue and larger sites on the mainland do have this.”

The group has not set a timescale for putting its proposals into action.

Mr Leask said: “Much of what we are proposing is dependent on funding of course. While we do not intend to approach the council for funding we do hope that they will point us in the direction of sources of funding for our project.

“We have been in touch with local community groups who seem very keen to lend their support, but we are looking for support from interested parties.

“Should we be allowed to go ahead we would hope to eventually end up with something much better than the former site at Clickimin and we would hope to be linked into other caravan bodies such as the national Caravan Club.”

The group does not have an official membership yet but it does have a committee of 10. At one time the Shetland Caravan Club had a membership of 117 but in recent years that has declined.

Mr MacBeath felt that was not due to a decline in interest as caravan ownership is increasing in Shetland but rather that many owners have been put off coming to Lerwick owing to uncertainty surrounding the future of the Clickimin site, fears which had proved to be well founded.

The SCCDG has already spoken with Serco NorthLink about provid­ing a better service for those wishing to take caravans to Shetland.

Mr MacBeath said: “It used to be that if you arrived in Aberdeen wanting to take your caravan on to the ferry and you arrived before the boarding time you would have to wait on the road to board. In the summer months, it would not take many caravans travelling to Shetland to create a long tailback and real congestion.

“The SCCDG contacted Serco about this and in three days Serco had changed the system so that caravans and camper vans could park up on the pier early. This is just one example of improved services and facilities that the group wants to implement and promote.

“With improved facilities we would also hope to offer a longer opening season at the site and in turn this could encourage new members. We would have the site fully open in the summer months but still keep it part open during the off season for the more intrepid caravaners and campers.”

The SCCDG is keen to hear from any interested parties and those wishing to offer help and support and are asked to contact the com­mittee by email at sccdg13@gmail.com.

About Laura Friedlander

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10 comments

  1. Jenny Henry

    Seafield would be the ideal site for a new camping and caravanning park, but I thought there were already plans to build a new Eric Gray Centre, or similar, on the site. Have those been shelved in the present economic climate or is the ultimate plan to build on the football pitch too?

    Reply
  2. stephen shirmer

    I hope that when they tear down the camping site they will try and save most of the trees and replant them,

    a lot of work went into making the campsite what it is, so don’t forget the trees & shrubs.

    Yours. The tree lover, not forgetting all the wildlife .

    Reply
  3. roy chamberlain

    i whole heartedly approve of the choice of seafield -a super place and could become as good or better than clikimin i will join the group and the shetland caravan club – we come every year for 3 weeks – so are rather desperate to see it up and running -fast tracked as it were -before folk coming up fae sooth are put off.

    Reply
  4. David Spence

    The new camping/caravan site would also be quite handy for Tesco’s and the proposed new Cafe to be built next to the seashore where the seals usually congregate when it is fine weather. (Mind you, if they are still there and not put off by all the construction work which will take place there?) I sincerely hope the new site encourages more people to camp or use caravans as the views of Lerwick are very good indeed, and the site is close enough for amenities. The only concern I would have, although the closed existing site was more exposed I would say, is the exposure to strong southerly gales, and what, if any, provision would be in place to reduce potential damage?

    Reply
  5. John N Hunter

    Lets sort out what’s haappening with the new Eric Gray centre before jumping into this.

    Reply
  6. Harry Dent

    I’d very much like to see a replacement camping site created for largely selfish reasons, but I need reassurance that the new Eric Gray Centre is unaffected, before I can support it with a clear conscience.

    Reply
  7. kenneth groat

    As a parent of a special needs youg adult i am very angry and disturbed by what i have seen in the paper regarding a proposed camp / caravan site for seafield. There have been decisions taken whithin the SIC in certain departments by certain people without the knowledge or consultation with parents and staff of the Eric Gray Centre. It is disgracefull how things have been allowed to develop but i for one are not surprised!.There are many questions that need honest answers will we as parents get any? i very much doubt it. I am totally fed up with the way this and previous councils have behaved regarding our special needs children and young adults, pushed to the side for caravan site!. And i will not forget it!.

    Reply
  8. Fraser Cluness

    Pehaps the special department at the AHS (when the school moves) could either be a replacment for the EGC or a tempory one while they build on the present site. Dont give up hope something will come up in the end.

    Reply
  9. kenneth groat

    The parents and Eric Gray Management were told this morning by Clair Scott ( SIC ) that the Head of the AHS want’s the special needs Eric Gray clients out of the school buildings by March! it get’s better and NO the parents will not except a run down make do building again. We should have what was promised over 20 years ago.

    Reply
  10. julie sales

    What about the equestrian fraternity and them havin a use for seafield? Is it fair they yet again lose out and are not recognised ?

    Reply

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