Office plan approved

A major new office development for the North Ness will go ahead, despite early concerns about a lack of parking in the area.

Councillors agreed the 3,000 square metre development would provide a much-needed lift for the business park when it is built on the site of the former WAG construction base.

Once up and running, the build­ing will provide office space for 100 social work and adult learning staff currently scattered in smaller offices across the town.

The application was lodged by the Shetland Charitable Trust’s prop­erty company Slap, which owns the site.

Provisions in the building for storage lockers and shower rooms mean a slight shortfall in the required parking provision is considered to be acceptable by the council’s roads department.

Early plans for the development initially showed a shortfall of 11 parking spaces. Amendments to the site layout reduced the shortfall to three, although it meant doing away with a planned garden area filled with greenery.

A report before this week’s planning committee found: “The provision of the extra eight car parking spaces to achieve what the planning service regards as an acceptable departure from the require­ments of the development plan has resulted in the loss of an area of land … which comprises an open space with planted area and footpath. While the loss of green space is not ideal, it is considered … that this loss is acceptable.”

An objection was lodged by Leslie Irvine, of Irvine Contractors Ltd. He said development plans had shown the use of car parking spaces specifically identified for use by Irvine Contractors on another site.

However the planning board heard 24 spaces given permission in May 2005 were not allocated on a specific basis, but for the adjacent business park as a whole.

The only fly in the ointment remain­ing is the North Ness oil tanks.

Concern has been growing in recent years that an incident involv­ing the tanks could spark off a “Buncefield-type” disaster which could bring catastrophe to much of the town.

However modifications are due to be carried out to lower the risk while the SIC continues its dialogue with owners GB Oils to have the tanks removed in the long term.

Moving the plans for recom­mend­ation, Cecil Smith said the WAG site was “an area of Lerwick that needs something done with it”. He was seconded by Laura Baisley.


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