19th October 2018
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Councillors approve house on World War remains site

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A couple have won an appeal allowing them to build a house on the site of Second World War remains.
Plans by William and Helen Reid to build the new home and develop an existing track at Toab in Virkie were previously refused.
The development was proposed for Goat Camp, which supported Sumburgh Airport during the war.

The site is considered to have the greatest density of Second World War remains in Shetland, including an air raid shelter.
But councillor for the South Mainland, George Smith, argued the land had been zoned for housing when he addressed a review hearing at the town hall today.

Representing the Reids, Mr Smith pointed to a letter from Historic Scotland, in which the Scottish government agency said it would stop short of classing Goat Camp as a site of “national importance”.

“While we recognise the high archaeological and historical interest of the site, we have decided not to recommend it for scheduling because there are insufficient field remains from the overall complex, to indicate a site of national importance,” the letter stated.
Mr Smith said the shelter had been filled with enough rubbish to prevent people from getting in.

He argued the land had been zoned for housing developments, adding the access track was owned by the Reids.

Fellow South Mainland member Billy Fox wondered if the extension to the runway at Sumburgh Airport had impacted on archaeological developments.

He argued: “If developments are of a commercial nature then things can be over-ruled, but if it’s somebody just building a house they tend to be a soft target.”

During the debate members struggled to see any reason why they should afford the site special recognition when Historic Scotland had stepped back from doing the same.

David Sandison said he was “minded to support the application”.

Questions were also asked about concerns over road safety should the development be approved.

A council memo stated visibility splays must be provided both north and south of the junction leading to the house site.  Drew Ratter insisted he never supported a planning application unless road safety issues could be addressed. He moved the appeal be upheld on condition that they were.

An appeal document from Mrs Reid stated road issues would be dealt with. But chairman Frank Robertson insisted visibility issues should be addressed before building work starts.

“Visibility is one of the most important aspects.  I’ve seen developments going ahead where visibility was not achieved prior to work starting on-site,” he said

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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