20th April 2018
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Sports clubs demand space at old Anderson High School site as meeting called to hear public’s views

The former Anderson High School from the air. Plans are being developed to decide what will replace the school. Photo: John Coutts

Sporting groups are calling for better provision in the old Anderson High School site as work to establish a new future for the Knab gathers pace.

The Shetland Gymnastics Club has been left disappointed after long-running talks aimed at taking over the old games hall came to nothing.

It hopes to secure a place in the old D-block section of the building which housed the school’s science department.

The organisation outgrew the Clickimin Centre almost a decade ago, and has been looking for a new location ever since.

Meanwhile, calls for a new artificial hockey pitch in the old site have also emerged.

The Shetland Hockey Association is proposing a new “multi-use” pitch be built. An online petition, launched by hockey player Ashley Burgess, has gathered almost 400 signatures.

Both groups plan to attend a workshop due to be held in the old school’s assembly hall this evening [Tuesday] from 6.30pm. The event is being hosted by 7N Architects which is involved in the development of a so-called masterplan for the site. 7N gave a presentation at Monday night’s Lerwick Community Council meeting.

Gymnastics

Julie Grant: “We felt a bit angry because we were meeting and emailing these people and it took them 18 months to tell us that.”

Head gymnastics coach Julie Grant said: “We outgrew Clickimin about seven or eight years ago.

“We were in talks with Assets and Properties about three or four years ago. We were going through an asset transfer for the games hall, and 18 months down the line they then told us that was going to be demolished.

“We were a bit devastated. We felt a bit angry because we were meeting and emailing the same people, and it took them 18 months to tell us that.”

She said the club had been told the building was “not in a great state of repair”.

“I worked in the science department, and we turned our focus to the D-block, which is in a better state of repair. It has the length, the height, and it’s quite open plan.”

She said letters and petitions had been submitted to the council, as well as other similar user groups running Pilates classes and sessions in massage therapy. But she did not know whether the old science block would be made available.

“We’re pushing it as much as we can. This is our last opportunity to find somewhere.”

She said the club had 150 children who come three times a week. But there are over 170 on the waiting list, meaning the club has the potential to more than double if it had its own facility.

“Every time we try to do something we hit a brick wall. I think we are one of the only sports up here that doesn’t have the proper facilities to train in.

“Our gymnasts went to a Scottish Gymnastics competition in Perth two weekends ago without having performed the routine on the correct equipment. They had to go in and perform, basically, for the first time.”

Hockey

An artificial hockey pitch is available in Brae. But the local hockey club maintains the need for an adequate playing surface in the Central Mainland is “bigger than ever”.

A post on the change.org website says Shetland Ladies Hockey has “progressed so much” in recent years, in particular with their progression in the Scottish District Cup. They reached the finals last year and say they are well on there way to another final in 2018.

Ashley Burgess’s online petition has collected hundreds of signatures demanding a new hockey pitch. Photo: Brian Gray

“Shetland are also making great achievements, narrowing the gap each year in the senior inter-county against Orkney, with this year’s game being one of the best we have seen Shetland perform.

“An additional pitch in Shetland to play on will even better their chances.”

They also have concerns that some South Mainland players, including juniors, are being put off because of the need to make a “100-mile journey to and from the Midway pitch”.

“Most parents don’t have the luxury these days of staying home to ferry children to and from after school clubs.

“So when it comes time to progressing boys and girls in hockey, after the fundamentals stage, unless we can get them to Brae, which at this moment is near impossible, then unfortunately their hockey has to stop, and they aren’t given the equal opportunity to play on an appropriate surface.”

Shetland Islands Council says 7N Architects are developing a place making strategy for the Knab site, based on a development brief derived from previous engagement with the community.

Development chairman Alastair Cooper said: “We’re keen to hear from anyone with an interest in the future of the Knab site, to help to develop the masterplan, that will also enhance Lerwick. The team are looking forward to working with the community to develop a vision that is worthy of this unique site.”

Contributions can also be made online.

To sign the hockey association’s petition, log on to change.org.

• For more from Tuesday’s public events, see this week’s Shetland Times.

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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3 comments

  1. Aaron Smith

    How many playing fields does Shetland need? Can they no build something that doesn’t already exist in Shetland such as an ice rink or bowling alley?

    Reply
  2. Ashley Burgess

    Aaron,

    With the game having progressed to the point where grass is no longer suitable, unfortunately we only have ONE facility in mainland Shetland, being the Midway Pitch in Brae, which is 25 miles north of Lerwick.

    Reply
  3. John Irvine

    A proper water based pitch in Lerwick would be a huge asset to the hockey players as would a facility to accommodate the young gymnasts, surely when you look at all the money that has been blown on much less worthwhile projects then these 2 will surely get support from the council.

    Reply

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