By RYAN TAYLOR
A COUNCIL decision earlier this year to retain premises in one of Lerwick’s residential areas as a shop has forced the businessman who owns the building to sell up.
Dennis Garrick, owner of the Staneyhill Shop, had wanted to change it to office premises after the business closed down some time ago.
His decision sparked an outcry from nearby residents, who said keeping a shop would provide a vital service for the area.
A petition garnered over 250 signatures from Staneyhill residents, and members of the SIC’s planning board voted to retain the premises as a retail outlet when they met in April.
Mr Garrick accepted their decision, and began making earnest attempts to sell or lease the property as a going concern.
However, he has had little sign of success, blaming the economic downturn for the minimal interest that has been shown.
Mr Garrick said he could have had a tenant in from the start if he had been allowed to change the building’s use in the first place.
“I wanted to turn the premises into an office, but that decision wasn’t popular in the area. Since then it has been on the market back and fore for months.
“I had some interest in it, but a person from outwith the islands who was looking at it had his own premises to sell down in Scotland. I’d imagine he’s having difficulty getting rid of his premises first, because of the economic situation.
“I could have had a tenant in it at that time. I had someone interested in it but when the decision went against me, they went on somewhere else.
“I have to keep it insured and it’s costing money and bringing nothing in, but I’d be quite delighted if someone came in to open something up.”
North Staneyhill Community Association chairman Roger Goudie, who called for the shop to be retained in April, said the community needed a local retail outlet.
Mr Goudie said: “We ran a questionnaire around the community at the time and it came back massively in favour of trying to keep a shop.
“We took fliers down as far as the bottom of North Road, and the response was overwhelmingly in favour of keeping it.
“I miss it and most of my neighbours miss having a shop as well. A shop makes a big difference, and it’s a focal point in the community. It’s hard for older people to get down to the Co-op”.