Views from the Scord 07.08.09

Utnabrake housing

The public meeting and display in the Scalloway hall on Thursday last week to give the public a chance to see firsthand the scale and area of the proposal to build 100 or more houses between Upper Scalloway and Utnabrake was well attended and further consolidated Hjaltland Housing Association’s position as an accountable and accessible developer.

The presentation and display had been called for by both the developer and the community as a previous display had been very poorly attended and was considered by some to be under-publicised. A head-count of 49 attendees justified the efforts that had been made by the housing association to engage the public in consultation over a proposal of this significance to the village.

A large array of detailed plans were on display, of both the site layout and the individual housing types included within it and Brian Leask of HHA was on hand to assist with interpretation of them prior to his presentation and to answer questions thereafter.

Feedback from HHA afterwards was that the meeting was “quite positive”, with the majority of issues raised by the public being either directly resolved or still possible for amendment during the consultation and subsequent planning application process.

Paul Leask of HHA said: “In terms of the public response, there is no point in holding a consultation unless you are going to take into account what people have said. Once people have raised certain concerns, it is still early enough to design them out. Moving forward, this week we bring ADS (Architecture and Design Scotland) back into the process, and then ultimately we are on to the planning application.”

Representatives of ADS were in Shetland on Tuesday this week to visit the proposed site for the development to ensure that the designs used are complementary to the existing village and surrounding area.

Working in co-operation with ADS, Hjaltland had already developed a structure for the Utnabrake proposal that is a marked departure from the style of their most recent developments. The layout of the new housing is to incorporate street frontage for most of the dwellings with car parking to be tucked away behind the buildings. This is designed to be similar in nature to the main street of Scalloway, with the possibility of “village green” communal areas and encouragement of community spirit. They are also to develop pedestrian and cycle paths to provide access to the village and further enhance the area.

The additional advantage of the building design they have adopted for the scheme is that it would be both financially viable and relatively straightforward to convert house frontages, garages or even living areas for light commercial use such as retail or workshop areas in the future in prime, street-based, locations. Coupled with prospect of a district heating scheme and the possibility of a synergy with NHS Shetland to provide a new health centre, the Utnabrake proposal could prove to be the most significant building project for Scalloway for generations.

Speaking after the meeting, Scalloway Community Council chairman Arnold Duncan described the attendance at the meeting as “reasonable”, and observed: “When you consider the number of applicants there were for the recent Hjaltland developments, there is definitely a demand for housing, it is perhaps a shame that another site is not available.”

He was alluding to concerns that there may be further archaeological discoveries in the proposed development site area which would need to be correctly dealt with. He also expressed his disappointment that representatives of the co-developer, JHB, chose not to speak at the meeting, given that a proportion of the potential development does not involve HHA and is solely attributed to them. One of the main concerns raised at the meeting was the loss of the crofting land upon which the new scheme would be built and assurances were made that the fertile arable land neighbouring the site would remain intact despite the developments on hill grazing around it.

Drainage and sewage issues were also questioned and further assurances made about the resolution of these issues.

Mr Duncan went on to express his satisfaction that Brian Leask of HHA had appropriately and positively addressed these main concerns about the development during his talk and noted that the significant concerns remaining relate to road safety and access to the new scheme from the existing valley road and the village.

Harbour activity

Fish landings were back up to a more prosperous level this week after the recent quiet spell in the Scalloway fish market.

A total of seven boats made various landings during the week for a total of 1,526 boxes. Local vessels the Comrades, Quiet Waters, Sharyn Louise, Fertile, Mizpah and Valhalla, contributed to this total with the Fertile landing four days out of five and the Mizpah landing the biggest single consignment of 348 boxes.

The Fraserburgh registered Solstice also landed toward this total with 261 boxes on Wednesday. Other fishing vessels in the port included the Inverness registered pair trawlers Fear Not and Arcturus which called in on Wednesday to present their log-books before commencing fishing activity in the area.

The Orkney-based tug Erlend was back in Scalloway again at the beginning of last week to tow away a barge for Scottish Sea Farms.

The SIC Papa Stour ferry Snolda completed her annual maintenance and inspection, leaving the pier at Moore’s to head back into service on Monday.

A generator failure aboard the DEA Server brought her into port for a period at the end of last week and repairs that resulted in her making back to sea again with a portable generator aboard until a more permanent repair could be made.

Playscheme fun

The Scalloway Summer Playschemes drew to a close last week with a fishing trip aboard the Swan around Bressay and Noss. This was the last of two weeks of highly enjoyable outdoor and indoor activities for local bairns which took them the length and breadth of Shetland. The Noss trip exemplified the benefits of getting groups of bairns out and about as even those who were initially a little green around the gills went on to gain their sea-legs and revelled in the marine excursion.

Louise Davies, chairwoman of the summer playschemes committee, said: “We’ve had a great time, the bairns have had a great time and long may it continue!”

Each day the organisers, the bairns and a variety of parental volunteers have had the benefit of organised trips to places like Fethaland and Eshaness, with expert guides like Allen Fraser on hand to show them around the geology and history of the area and Harry Rose to show them some of the flora and fauna in great detail. This trip to the North Mainland took an unexpected twist as a problem with the bus slowed their return so much that the children were treated to a spell in the playpark in Brae as a reward for their patience on the bus and a snack from the local chip shop to keep them going before setting off again for Scalloway.

Another memorable day came with a trip to Mousa, with Harry Rose once again providing them with an excellent account of the area and spending a long spell rock-pooling with the bairns at Leebitton. This was followed by a competition among the bairns to see who could make a broch from the stones on the beach that the bairns “really got into” and in which all the bairns came out top in various categories. As Louise said: “They would spend all day on a beach if you let them.”

Other days included trips to the Burland Croft Trail, craft work with Kristy Cummings and organised play in the Scalloway area.

Louise added: “It’s been a lovely year, we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully it will be as good again next year.”

Speaking for the committee, Louise would like to thank everyone who helped out, Harry Rose, the crew of the Swan, Mary Isbister, Kristy Cumming, John the bus driver, the parents and Julie Jamieson for all her organisation.

Good Companions

The Scalloway Good Companions wish to publicise their summer outing planned for the 27th of this month. It will take the form a of a meal at the Mid Brae Inn followed by catching the ferry to Yell, a visit to the Aywick Shop and then on to the Burravoe Old Haa Museum for tea and homebakes. Names are to be submitted by Friday 21st and forms are available now in the Scalloway Post Office. On the day the bus will depart Scalloway hall promptly at 11am.

Mark Burgess


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.