A joint push is to be made to build hundreds of houses on “the only large scale development site in central Shetland”.
Members of Lerwick Community Council were told last night that Shetland Leasing and Property Developments Ltd (SLAP) had reached an agreement in principle to sell land at Staney Hill to Hjaltland Housing Association.
It is intended that a collective outline planning application will be submitted by the two organisations around the beginning of May and next Wednesday a public consultation will be held at Clickimin.
Hjaltland chief executive Bryan Leask said obtaining the site was a positive move.
“The Staney Hill site is probably one of the only, if not the only large-scale development site in central Shetland,” he said.
“I think to try and get that site for us and for affordable housing generally is a good step forward.”
Planning consultant Alan Farningham, who has been appointed by SLAP, spoke to community council members about the proposal.
He said the land could accommodate “a good few hundred houses”, but was unable to comment on details.
“We are very much aware that there’s a need to get housing in this area,” he said. “The intention is very much to develop.”
Mr Farningham explained that next week there would not be an exhibition of plans, but a simple red-line drawing showing the extent of the proposed site.
There will also be an aerial photograph of the site to put it in context with the rest of Lerwick, and information about why the development is being put forward.
People are invited to make comments which will be included in the application. Lerwick Community Council, local councillors and adjoining landowners are also among those asked to attend.
According to the initial outline, the principal access route would be the same road to access the new hostel for the new Anderson High School.
Concerns were raised by community council members about the volume of traffic but Mr Farningham said the route had been suggested by Shetland Islands Council.
However, when asked if there would be any facilities tied in with the houses, Mr Farningham was not able to provide any details. He said it was very early on to comment.
Karen Fraser asked whether blasting of rock was needed to make way for the houses and also raised the issue of maintaining paths and viewpoints.
The council agreed to put their concerns forward as part of the application.
Afterwards Mr Leask was asked about the geography of the site and rock blasting.
He said a feasibility study of the area had been conducted and Staney Hill was “not unusual” in terms of work they had carried out in the past.
Mr Leask cited recently completed work at Quoys – where rock was removed for homes and then used for building roads.
He added that the housing association would also want more access roads to the Staney Hill site and said securing the land would provide “certainty” in terms of a long-term development plan for the housing association.
It would also mean the land was secure for development and help the housing association to pull in funding from the Scottish government.
Hjaltland’s housing waiting list stands at 650, Mr Leask said, with 380 applying for homes in Lerwick. The second highest on the list is Scalloway followed by Brae and Tingwall.
SLAP chairwoman Susan Groat stated in a press release after the meeting: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with Hjaltland Housing Association for this area of land, where they intend to develop much-needed housing in Lerwick.
“We will work with them to finalise the sale and together put forward an outline planning application.”
In January The Shetland Times reported that the development could support between 200 and 300 houses.
Next Wednesday’s consultation will be held from 10am to 9pm.