SIC stands back from Unst house

THE PROJECT to refurbish Belmont House is to receive no more cash from the council, having now been awarded almost £400,000 in public money.

The restoration will cost an estimated £1.2m to complete and the SIC’s development committee last week approved another £100,000 grant, taking the total contribution of the council and its trusts to £395,000. Seventy per cent of the funding has been sourced from outwith Shetland, primarily from Historic Scotland.

But councillors vowed that there would be no more of Shetland’s public money committed when phase three of the project, to restore the grounds around the house in Unst to their original condition, begins.

Head of economic development Neil Grant said a £100,000 loan to the Belmont Trust from Shetland Development Trust, which was brought back under the council’s wing earlier this year, expired in July. The Belmont Trust had asked for the loan to be converted into a £150,000 grant but Mr Grant said he was “convinced” they would still be able to deliver the project with £100,000.

In his report to members Mr Grant stated that it was very important for the council to “avoid a situation where it becomes regarded as the first point of contact when the funding of heritage-related projects becomes difficult”.

Members unanimously agreed to approve the grant and committee chairman Josie Simpson said: “This is the final money we put into this project.”

The Belmont Trust began work on restoring the 18th century Georgian mansion – which is intended to become four-star self-catering accommodation, marketed through the National Trust for Scotland – in 2005. It is expected to be completed and ready to open next year.


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