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.
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
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
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
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.