Row over calls for shops in new town flats

A ROW has blown up over plans to demolish a Lerwick pub and night­club and build much needed flats to help combat the housing shortage.

Proposals to build 15 single bed­room flats on the site of the North Star and neighbouring Mooney’s Wake in Harbour Street have been gathering pace since the premises were bought over by Hjaltland Housing Association late last year.

Members of the Lerwick Com­munity Council heard on Monday that planning officers had insisted shops be included as part of the redevelopment.

Hjaltland were forced to resubmit their application to the planning board as a result.

But the community council deci­ded to urge the planning board to allow the units to be used as flats.

Members agreed the town planners were making unrealistic demands.

“Do we have demand for retail outlets? No. Do we have demand for housing in Lerwick? Yes, absolu­tely,” said Lerwick South councillor Jonathan Wills.

Bryan Leask of Hjaltland added: “We are in the business of making houses, we are not in the business of making shops.”

SIC services manager John Holden defended the call for retail premises.

“It’s within the area of the local plan identified as being in the town centre.

“That area should – in order to prosper and perform – have a multi-functional role.

“Close by there are already hot food premises, and hairdressers as well.

“The idea is that some commercial development would add some vib­rancy and some visual benefit as well to the area.

“Potentially it could help the town centre expand as a link to the water front development.”

The development also met with objections from Historic Scotland, who felt the case to demolish the old building in a conservation area had not been made.

Hjaltland say demolishing the building and rebuilding something new in its place makes most financial sense, as parts of the existing building are experiencing structural problems.

“We’ve had a look at it and we thought it would make more sense to knock it down,” said Mr Leask.


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