Action group is forced to scrap its last ditch bid to save glasshouses
An environment action group has had to scrap its plans to take over Tingwall glasshouse and convert it into a centre for community growing, education and therapy.
Transition Shetland has spent more than two years in “a last ditch attempt” to save the 2,500 square metre building.
The group managed to raise £20,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and the Leader local action group fund, as well dipping into their personal funds. That allowed members to pay for a feasibility study to show there was a viable, long-term future for the building through community ownership.
A public meeting in March brought in 35 people to discuss the plan, and folk had expressed an interest in renting out plots.
But despite that level of support, chairman of the group, Pete Bevington, said there was not enough new interest to overcome the challenges of the project.
He said “the sheer size of the difference” between the valuation of the building and the owner’s asking price was “far too great” for the group to be able to progress.
Without active support by a “strong group of like-minded enthusiasts”, the group said it is unable to overcome the barrier.
Mr Bevington said: “We’re feeling very sad and very disappointed. We had a lot of hopes for this building, we could see a huge amount of potential, but we always knew there was no guarantee it could work because it was privately owned.”
He added: “We have taken this decision with considerable sadness and dismay after so much work has been put into this project.
“While we were able to demonstrate a huge amount of public support for what we were trying to do, we have not seen the active interest that we need to give us confidence to take this any further.
“The owner of the building is seeking more than twice as much as Shetland’s only commercial valuer has said the building is worth, a gap we feel is too great to bridge with the resources at our disposal.
“The need for such a community facility has never been greater, as more and more people look for the opportunity to grow under the protection of plastic or glass.
“In the years ahead the combination of climate change and oil price rises will see the cost of food going up, especially in Shetland where it currently has to be imported by fuel-guzzling ships.
“In community ownership the Tingwall glasshouse could have played a central role in helping people to grow more of their own food.
“We will now concentrate our efforts on other ways to help Shetland become a more resilient community in the face of the challenges ahead.”
Transition Shetland will make the information it has generated from the feasibility study available on its website.