Plans for a major housing development in Tingwall which were stalled over fears good agricultural land could be lost are back on track. Hjaltland Housing Association is planning to resubmit its application for the proposed Veensgarth development.
Last year councillors put the brakes on the scheme – which would have provided 38 new homes for the area – after concerns were raised arable land useful for farming or crofting would be covered up. However following an appeal from Hjaltland the Scottish government ruled the plans should not have been refused on the loss of agricultural land.
Instead the government said the distance of the houses from central amenities, such as the school and hall, ultimately scuppered the plans.
Hjaltland’s property manager, Bryan Leask said: “We have taken time to consider the appeal decision and the reasons for refusal and have decided that we will reapply. It was our contention that we had complied with all the SIC policies on the proposal and, as such, we were disappointed when the councillors refused our application.
“We are pleased that the reporter agreed with our reading of those policies and agreed that the loss of agricultural land was not a valid reason for refusal, and that we had met all the conditions the council requires on Zone 3 land.
“We were, however, surprised when the application was refused on the basis of its distance from local amenities. This was never an issue which was raised with us as part of the application and we were disappointed that we never had an opportunity to explain the situation or defend our application on those points.
“We fear for the future of housing development in rural areas of Shetland if that decision is not challenged as it would have dire consequences for any housing development in areas of Shetland that are over 1km from a school/hall.”
The new application is almost identical to the previous one with the form of heating, changing from a Bio-mass district heating plant to individual heat pumps, being the only real alteration. Hjaltland and architects Redman & Sutherland will finalise the plans in the coming weeks. They propose to hold a public meeting in Tingwall to discuss the development.