Folk urged to have their say on future shape of Lerwick town centre

Everybody in Shetland is being urged to have their say about the future of Lerwick town centre in all its aspects, from how it looks to whether the street should be pedestrianised.

The 14-member Lerwick Old Town Development Association has published a draft plan highlighting some of the improvements already made to the area and suggesting further work and ideas for the future.

Chaired by Laurence Smith, the association now wants to hear from anyone and everyone in the community, not just in Lerwick, about what they think should be done.

In particular, the association is keen to hear what people feel are the strengths of the town centre, the weaknesses of the town centre, opportunities for the town centre, threats to the town centre and what, from the following list of short, medium and long term priorities, they would like to see happen.

Short term
 Interpretation – signage and maps
 Traffic management and parking
 Review of the pedestrianisation bylaw for Commercial Street
 Enhance the Church Road crossing from Commercial Street
 Encourage anti-litter initiatives
 Tackle cigarette and chewing gum problem
 Reduce vehicle movements around the town centre
 Promote walking and cycling opportunities
 Create a cultural trail with public art from the Lodberries to the museum along the waterfront
 Improve shops’ and businesses’ frontages and signs
 Provide cycle racks
 Introduce a lanes improvement scheme
 Introduce street and waterfront furniture
 Improve cleanliness
 Develop the creative use of lighting on the street and buildings
 Identify and highlight derelict gap sites for improve­ment and redevelopment
 Encourage creative ways of maximising opening hours of businesses in the area
 Introduce more public art
 Reduce plastic bag usage

Medium term
 Identify potential redevelopment sites
 Develop Christmas lights
 Start an accessibility and shop mobility scheme
 Re-introduce a paint scheme along Commercial Street
 Make improvements to the Esplanade
 Introduce street markets
 Improve and restore buildings for conservation
 Remove the oil depot at the North Ness
 Increase use of and access to Fort Charlotte
 Improve the retail environment
 Enhance policing and security
 Encourage use of appropriate renewable energy
 Promote the use of buses for accessing the town centre
 Create new car parking solutions
 Improve the small boat harbour with the creation of new walkway
 Coordinate an “Events Board” with Visit Shetland, Shetland Arts and others

Long term
 Build a cruise liner quay
 Build a breakwater
 Protect the Lodberries
 Build more yachting and marina facilities
 Construct a sailing centre with a welcome pavilion
 Open a seafood restaurant

The association, which is separate from the Lerwick Town Centre Association whose members are businesses trading within the Outstanding Conservation Area, believes the draft plan identifies opportunities for development and improvements which, if brought to fruition, “could make a significant contribution to creating a vibrant, sustainable and high quality environment in and around Lerwick’s old town”.

Mr Smith said: “It is a bringing together of ideas from the past and present to develop a strategy that puts in place a coordinated development plan for the town centre and waterfront area.

“We are looking not only to have an element of regeneration, but also to develop the area and secure the future vitality and viability of the area as a gateway for visitors and a flagship for the community. We want to build on the historic value of the area.”

He added: “We would like to see everybody with an interest in the historic town centre of Lerwick to take time to look at the action plan and, if they wish, to contribute their ideas through the feedback process.”

The ideas, which must be in by 7th August, will be assessed by the association before the strategy is drawn up, enabling the group to form links with the council, community agencies and other bodies to develop it further. Mr Smith said he would like to see the strategy developed within the next 12 months. Once that is done, funding can be sought from various agencies.

Mr Smith added: “It is great that we have managed to put in place a community group that has an active interest in the old town and we hope that the public will get behind the development of the strategy. It will be of great benefit to future generations. We very much appreciate the support of SIC’s departments of planning and community services in the development of the action plan.”

To make your contribution, answer the questions in the advert to the left, preferably by typing them on an A4 sheet of paper, and return them to the address given.


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