Joint push for new housing

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The area of the Staney Hill where the new houses could be built. Photo: John Coutts

The area of the Staney Hill where the new houses could be built. Photo: John Coutts

A joint push is to be made to build hundreds of houses on “the only large scale development site in central Shetland”.

Members of Lerwick Community Council were told last night that Shetland Leasing and Property Developments Ltd (SLAP) had reached an agreement in principle to sell land at Staney Hill to Hjaltland Housing Association.

It is intended that a collective outline planning application will be submitted by the two organisations around the beginning of May and next Wednesday a public consultation will be held at Clickimin.

Hjaltland chief executive Bryan Leask said obtaining the site was a positive move.

“The Staney Hill site is probably one of the only, if not the only large-scale development site in central Shetland,” he said.

“I think to try and get that site for us and for affordable housing generally is a good step forward.”

Planning consultant Alan Farningham, who has been appointed by SLAP, spoke to community council members about the proposal.

He said the land could accommodate “a good few hundred houses”, but was unable to comment on details.

“We are very much aware that there’s a need to get housing in this area,” he said. “The intention is very much to develop.”

Mr Farningham explained that next week there would not be an exhibition of plans, but a simple red-line drawing showing the extent of the proposed site.

There will also be an aerial photograph of the site to put it in context with the rest of Lerwick, and information about why the development is being put forward.

People are invited to make comments which will be included in the application. Lerwick Community Council, local councillors and adjoining landowners are also among those asked to attend.

According to the initial outline, the principal access route would be the same road to access the new hostel for the new Anderson High School.

Concerns were raised by community council members about the volume of traffic but Mr Farningham said the route had been suggested by Shetland Islands Council.

However, when asked if there would be any facilities tied in with the houses, Mr Farningham was not able to provide any details. He said it was very early on to comment.

Karen Fraser asked whether blasting of rock was needed to make way for the houses and also raised the issue of maintaining paths and viewpoints.

The council agreed to put their concerns forward as part of the application.

Afterwards Mr Leask was asked about the geography of the site and rock blasting.

He said a feasibility study of the area had been conducted and Staney Hill was “not unusual” in terms of work they had carried out in the past.

Mr Leask cited recently completed work at Quoys – where rock was removed for homes and then used for building roads.

He added that the housing association would also want more access roads to the Staney Hill site and said securing the land would provide “certainty” in terms of a long-term development plan for the housing association.

It would also mean the land was secure for development and help the housing association to pull in funding from the Scottish government.

Hjaltland’s housing waiting list stands at 650, Mr Leask said, with 380 applying for homes in Lerwick. The second highest on the list is Scalloway followed by Brae and Tingwall.

SLAP chairwoman Susan Groat stated in a press release after the meeting: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with Hjaltland Housing Association for this area of land, where they intend to develop much-needed housing in Lerwick.

“We will work with them to finalise the sale and together put forward an outline planning application.”

In January The Shetland Times reported that the development could support between 200 and 300 houses.

Next Wednesday’s consultation will be held from 10am to 9pm.

 

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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39 comments

  1. Rick Nickerson

    There goes the last remaining significant green space in Lerwick except for the Ness of Sound. Will that be next? It seems that no account has been made of the value of green spaces and their positive impact on both individuals or society not to mention the visual impact this will have on one of Shetland’s top tourist attractions. Not only will this development put significant pressure on all public services in Lerwick such as schools, NHS facilities such the hospital, the health centre and already over stretched dental services, it will once again centralise housing in the central belt of Shetland further undermining the viability of rural communities. Housing by all means but lets spread it around and not ruin a very special space of Lerwick becuse once it is built this green space will be lost forever.

    Reply
    • fraser cluness

      Id never discribe the back of the staney hill a top tourest attraction??? the design of the area with propper roads and footpaths along the view points may infact make it more appealing to bother to go up there though. Adding to the walking route around lerwick. The schools and the health centres may need expanded in the future anyway, no mater where people actualy live. The hospitail is a Shetland thing not Lerwick, as is the dentist (mostly). i live in the ‘country’ i can asure you if i could have got a serviced site in lerwick i and many others would not want to live out of the town. What we need is serviced sites throughout shetland, in adition to this, for people to build on. I’m almost shure to say if someone wanted to build several houses next to you (persuming you live in the country) you would have a letter of complaint in double speed?? How about a nice set of 5 or 10 houses near you? and dotted up and down Shetland?

      Reply
  2. Johan Adamson

    I agree totally Rick Nickerson. They wont be happy til everyone is in da toon. They just cant see past it. I feel sad that my generation is doing its best to demolish communities. And we will rue the day.

    Reply
    • fraser cluness

      Whos ‘they’? the people applying to the longest housing list in Shetland because thats where ‘they’ want to live? Why would you force folk to live in a place they dont want to be in, but the only place they can get?
      Yes the country areas needs homes and land where people to build their own place on (If thats where they realy want to live). however that dosent mean they would make the country better. for example the kids could be in the town schools near the parents work, (this hapens lots already) and living in an area dosent mean the people will join the local hall commitee etc or have anything to do with local events/community. ofcourse island areas are diffrent, im talking mostly about mainland shetland.

      People need a choice where to build and lerwick is not an area people are getting afordable land options in.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Fraser, the self-fulfilling prophecy is now being fulfilled. The centralisation of facilities, sevices and employment in Lerwick is leading inexorably to a need for more housing which, in turn, will lead to a greater need for centralisation of facilities, services and employment to Lerwick, …. and on it will go, until one day there will be a great political initiative from Edinburgh to halt and reverse the depopulation of rural districts – it will become trendy – and by then it will have gone so far that SIC has to throw large sums of money into it to ‘incentivise people to retun there who didn’t want to leave in the first place.

        But we closed the schools.

    • Robert Duncan

      They’re aiming to build houses in town because people want to live in the town. It’s truly as simple as that. There’s absolutely no point building houses in areas without demand, and currently there is significant over-demand and under-supply for social housing in Lerwick.

      That’s gone on for years, as well, so not just fuelled by recent cutbacks.

      Reply
  3. iantinkler

    Nothing changes, heap it all into Lerwick. Close the rural schools, depopulate rural areas, then the whole country bit can be turned into a gigantic wind farm. Loads on money for the few usual suspects and what a dump the place will become, no rural communities and lots of suburban squalor and crime centred on Lerwick. O happy days!!

    Reply
    • fraser cluness

      if they moved your work or lots of businness out to the country do you think you would get more or less customers

      Reply
  4. Michael Garriock

    Who in their right mind is going to want to live on top of the Staney Hill anyway. They may have a “nice”?? view but will be blasted to kingdom come regardless of wind direction for the nine months which aren’t during our “summer”.

    Reply
  5. Peter Smith

    I’m surprised that claims about pressure on Lerwick services and depopulation of rural areas are being made based on the information in this article. Surely the first thing we need to know is how many of the 380 applicants for housing in Lerwick already live in Lerwick?

    Reply
    • fraser cluness

      what difrence will that make? although i’d be interested in how mant country folk want a move to the town.

      Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      Good point. But if there are only jobs and houses in Lerwick, what choice is there?

      Reply
      • fraser cluness

        where is the jobs in the country going to come from? who will set up a company in the middle of nowhere then expect customers to come out looking for them? It would need to be a good one to make folk travel.

      • Johan Adamson

        There are plenty of businesses in the country – oil terminal, salmon farms, builders, shops, Vets. But we could do with more to stimulate communites. What happened to the SIC decentralisation plan?

    • John Tulloch

      Does it matter how many applicants are from Lerwick?

      Presumably, those who move house will mostly leave empty premises behind them in Lerwick so if all these houses are built, ultimately, people will have to move from the country or Sooth to occupy the total number of properties?

      Reply
      • Robert Duncan

        “Does it matter how many applicants are from Lerwick?”

        Of course it does… you can’t just build houses in the country and hope people decide to compromise and live there when they don’t actually want to. If demand is in Lerwick, you build the houses in Lerwick.

      • fraser cluness

        its all second guessing (i wasnt here) but when they built sandvien where did all that families come from and who filled the houses they came from? it is clear that homes are filled with more single people now, where in the old days you stayed with parents untill you got married etc, where now homes of one or 2 are more common.

      • Jenny Henry

        John, I think what Peter was getting at is that, if the majority of those on the waiting list for Lerwick houses are already staying in Lerwick, either with family, friends, as homeless, in a private-rent or whatever, they’re already using the facilities in Lerwick, i.e. schools, dentists, health centres, roads etc. Building 300 homes doesn’t mean the population of Lerwick is going to increase by say, 900 people, it just means that those who need a house, for whatever reason, will maybe get their own one.

        I don’t think very many of those who might be allocated one of the new houses will be leaving an empty property behind. Most of the demand for new houses is to do with the way society is nowadays: families break up and the parents need a house each instead of one between them; young people want, or sometimes need, to move out of the family home at the age of 16, 17, 18; property prices, financial pressures and lending rules etc hinder many people from buying their own homes.

        The need for new housing in the town has very little to do with the present ‘mini-boom’ and influx of workers taking up private rents – I doubt very much that the private market is big enough to accommodate the SIC waiting lists for either town or country. The fact is, Lerwick does need more houses for Lerwick folk to stay in. I’m sure country areas need ones too, and I’m also sure Hjaltland and SIC will both, when and if finances etc are available, do their bit to build rurally.

        But, like it or not, this is the next Lerwick project and this whole ‘town v country’ mentality really p****s me off. Shetland isn’t such a big place, so shouldn’t we all get together and support any investment and development that comes our way?

      • Robert Duncan

        Excellent post, Jenny, thank you for articulating that so well.

      • Johan Adamson

        I agree, think the whole country v town thing is annoying everybody. All you ever hear about is the toon. Money being spent on roads, in da toon, new school, for da toon. When you hear about the country it is cuts to ferries and cuts to schools, cuts to roads budgets, gritting etc, making life harder rurally and easier in da toon. It is like there is no one in the SIC who actually appreciates that there is something other than the toon oot there.

      • Robert Duncan

        You’ve had a good stab at hijacking Jenny’s point there, Johan. It seems clear that you DON’T agree with her.

        “new school, for da toon”

        This is probably the one that annoys me most. The Anderson is a school for nearly all of Shetland, it is for the benefit of children from rural areas as well as the town.

    • Johan Adamson

      I want trying to hijack anything Robert, just pointing out that the country vs toon thing is not of our making. It seems clear from other debates that some of the country folk do not want the school, they want to keep the junior highs open in the communities until S4. Then they might attend the new one (or the college).

      Reply
      • Johan Adamson

        Didnt mean to cause you annoyance Robert.

  6. iantinkler

    “They’re aiming to build houses in town because people want to live in the town” Well said Duncaqn, but , not surprising really, not a lot of choice. Lousy bus service, rural education being stuffed, rural halls allowed to rot. All facilities concentrated in Lerwick, just how to ruin Shetland and turn Lerwick into a faceless housing estate. How very provincial, go to it SIC, just see what else you can ruin!

    Reply
    • Robert Duncan

      As I said, over demand for social housing in Lerwick predates the current round of cut backs, including the rural school closures. It’s been ongoing for as long as I’ve been aware.

      As I’ve discussed at length on these pages before, the buses in Shetland are not “lousy”, and in fact so far from it that to suggest so can frankly only be due to ignorance of what is actually available.

      Rural halls also have little to do with the Council, in the areas I’m familiar with. Its the role of the relevant community to care for them, and in areas where people are putting the effort in they’re thriving.

      Reply
  7. fraser cluness

    We are all individuals here in Shetland, people want to live where they want to live. One marker on where this is is the local housing lists. It tells the council and us where people want to live. Its quite clear. Just because they dont want to live in the country dosnt make them or the council bad people.
    The council must supply houses or sites where peole want to live or they will end up with loads of empty houses like mossbank a few years ago. nice enough houses, but noone wanted them.

    Where if you like the wilderness of a country ares, thats your choice, dont stamp you feet asking for things on your doorstep. it was that mantality landed us mareel. island ver. south.

    I see the same town versus country going on south, for aberdeen elgin dundee perth. its like people get the green eyed monster for things being in the main towns. Its a fact of life throughout the counrty things need to be in the main towns, its where shops and businesses customers are etc.

    So heres a chanenge for the country folk, 200 houses going to be build, how many would you like right next door to you in your country area 5, 10,15? that would be 200 cars/vans. or people needing a bus to get to their work – in the toon! going past your door.

    yes we need to reflect the housing lists, thats why we do see new housing in the country 9sandwick, scalloway, brae, even northmavine) over the past few years as well. now its the toons turn

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      Also new houses in Tingwall and Aith. And the Toon has just had a major development at Quoys.

      Reply
  8. Stewart Mac

    What a lot of nonsense!

    It never ceases to amaze me the comments of some on these pages. Why is building houses where there is demand becomes the centralisation of everything and the end of the world as we know it? – How many years ago was it that large parts of Mossbank (well particularly Mid Lea/Upper Lea etc.) was demolished because the houses fell in to ruin through lack of demand? Oh wait that will be because of the centralisation of services? No, wait, the services fell after the population voted with their feet and moved away! Or would some of you have people forced to live where they don’t want to? – I’m sure that moving some of the contributors to Unst would be helpful

    As for the decimation of Lerwick’s Green spaces (or similar sentiments) again utter nonsense! – Perhaps those people should take a wee peek out the South Road, or indeed up past Gremista – Shetland is one giant green space. Unless there’s some new hidden development that cant be seen from the road.

    Yes all the jobs are in Lerwick, oh wait, someone’s building a giant Gas plant beside…. what is it? oh yes Europes’ largest Oil terminal but still everythings being centralised

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Oh, Stuart!

      Mossbank was full of houses built for Sullom Voe workers who became rapidly less numerous, leaving the houses empty with no demand which would not have been helped by the closure of the Fraser Peterson Centre i.e. loss of facilities to the centre.

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        Sorry, I meant “Oh, Stewart!”

    • Johan Adamson

      So, we build this large scale development in Lerwick now, because there is demand there now. All the other houses in Lerwick are rented out. What happens when this mini boom ceases?

      There is no doubt that things are being centralised, and that this area of the Staney hill is used for dog walking and the like for town dwellers. And the Gas Plant jobs wont last forever.

      Reply
      • Robert Duncan

        High housing demand in Lerwick predates the Gas Plant related boom. More housing is needed in town, it’s truly as simple as that.

      • fraser cluness

        They said the same about sandvien and netherdale in the oil construction time. apart from the secondery schools what else has been moved out of the country into the town? i cant think of any, can you? then if you dont have children that age then you wont effect you.

        the only place i can think of that had trouble with over provision of houses after oil came was mossbank, (in the counrty)

      • Johan Adamson

        If the high demand in town predates the gas plant, it also predates the building of Quoys. Impossible to split out the demand before and that relating to the pressure from the gas plant.

        Yes, there would be even more comments if they were building more houses in Brae just now, instead of Lerwick.

        You only just have to see the traffic entering Lerwick in the morning and leaving at 5 to know that jobs are centred in Lerwick. When we all live in Lerwick, at least we wont have that. We will all be living next door to each other complaining about noise and dog fouling and no where to park.

        And Stewart Mac, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it is nonsense to you.

  9. iantinkler

    “Yes all the jobs are in Lerwick, oh wait, someone’s building a giant Gas plant beside…. what is it? oh yes Europes’ largest Oil terminal but still everythings being centralised” That will be so good for a bit of recreation, Stewart, pity the near community halls have no funding. Mind you the what a pity those Mossbank houses went, would have been useful for the gas plant and oil terminal community. Yet another rural community is let down. (joke surely Stewart?)Lol.

    Reply
  10. Stewart Mac

    The Joke Ian is some of the comments on these pages – some seem to be taking themselves (and their opinions which are freely voiced) WAY too seriously, it seems to be their way or the highway and, if they were right half as often as they thought then it would be an entirely different world in which we live.

    Things would have been much different if some of the contributors to these pages had been elected. but therein lays another tale…..

    In the meantime, to the powers that be -please please please carry on building houses where people actually want to live rather than where the self appointed righters of wrongs try to dictate that they SHOULD live. Long live democracy!

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Stewart, what you’re saying is perilously close to “Long live elective dictatorship!”

      Once more than half the population lives in Lerwick, it’ll be “out with ‘The Norseman’s Home’ and in with ‘Lerwick Uber Alles’.”

      Reply
  11. iantinkler

    Democracy will unfortunately dictate as more people move to Lerwick, the greater will become their influence on decisions. More services will follow to Lerwick, less and less in the rural communities. We are already witnessing rural schools closing. Bus routes being retendered (cut and closed). More leisure facilities centred on Lerwick whilst community hall grants refused and the community halls left to decay. Plenty of people would love to move outside Lerwick to live in pristine environments such as Aith. Great school once in Aith, now struggling to stay open, precious few busses, a bit hard to get to Mareel. Soon to be totally enveloped and overshadowed by a wind farm. The same could be said for many, nearly all, lovely Shetland hamlets.. How long before we lose all are rural communities and are literally forced to move to Lerwick? Not a joke Stewart, just a matter of sad fact.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Very well said, Ian.

      Reply

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