Councillors have agreed to defer a decision on a large housing development in Scalloway for at least two cycles, pending the outcome of an appeal on a development in another area.
The controversial proposal by Hjaltland Housing Association (HHA) for building firm JHB to build around 100 homes as well as business and commercial zones north of Scalloway was recommended for refusal by the council’s planning department as a “significant departure from planning policy”. It also met with strong opposition from locals, including from the crofting community, and attracted nine letters of objection.
The main points against the development at Utnabrake were that it would be on good agricultural land; too big for the village and constitute ribbon development; cause traffic problems and bottlenecks; and obliterate a small burn which runs through the middle of the site, providing drainage and taking the run-off from the Asta and Tingwall lochs and which floods every winter.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the planning board, planning officials called the development, which is in two phases, the first for full planning permission for 21 houses and the second for outline permission for the rest of the development, “premature and poorly designed”. The use of good agricultural land and the layout of the site were the principal objections.
Councillor Iris Hawkins said that the board should be consistent, having previously rejected an application by HHA to build on good agricultural land at Veensgarth. Her move to defer the decision was seconded by councillor Bill Manson.
Local crofter Joyce Pole, who read a statement from objectors, said the councillors’ decision was the “right thing” but she was vexed it was deferred rather than being rejected: “It leaves it up in the air.”
HHA property services manager Bryan Leask said “it was better than a full rejection” although if large changes to the planning application had to be made it would effectively be a rejection.
For full story see this week’s Shetland Times.