Unanimous approval for new high school plans

The architect's impressions of how the new Anderson High School will look.
The architect’s impressions of how the new Anderson High School will look.

The new Anderson High School and halls of residence have been granted planning approval – over two decades after a first report on the project was raised in the town hall.

Members took 50 minutes to give the authority’s flagship capital project – the biggest this council will have to take – the green light when they met for a well-attended hearing in the town hall this afternoon.
Also approved, following a separate hearing, was the controversial moving of the emergency helicopter landing pad. But consent for that has been limited to two years to allow noise and disturbance levels to be monitored.
Board chairman Frank Robertson.
Board chairman Frank Robertson.

Speaking about the school plans chairman Frank Robertson drew on a detailed and lengthy report by planning official Richard MacNeill. Mr Robertson said the committee had been presented with a “once in a lifetime” opportunity provide a school that is “welcoming” and “safe” at the Clickimin.

“It’s 21 years since the first report was presented to the council recommending that a new high school be constructed at the Lower Staney Hill or the Clickimin because of deterioration of the present building and the fact it was facing a maximum expenditure period.
“We are looking at the possibility of a new high school for the whole of Shetland. This will be the core of an educational complex that will serve Shetland for the next 100 years.”
Questions were asked about the lengthy list of conditions – 26 in all – which must be addressed before development can proceed, and the loss of parking spaces around Bruce Crescent to allow the new road-layout, including a roundabout, to be introduced.
Children’s services director, Helen Budge, said real progress was being made in the development of the new school.
She said the new Anderson High represented an “integral part” of Shetland’s future plans for education. With 89 per cent of S5 and S6 pupils attending the Anderson, the new school, she said, would be a development for a “great majority” of young people.
Local resident Sandy McMillan asked whether the school may be affected by toxins released in the area of the town’s old dump. He was told initial bore holes had shown no contaminated land would be disturbed during construction. Should any contaminated land be detected when the foundations were dug, the toxic material would be lifted and removed.
In the end the committee gave unanimous support for the new school. However, there followed debate on the landing pad, and the affect emergency landings would have on residents in Lochside. The report before members said any detrimental impact was outweighed by the benefit offered to the emergency services and the patients in their care.
Philomena Leask said property values may be affected if the landing pad was approved. She added noise levels produced by the Sikorsky S-92 helicopters had not been made available to residents concerned by the move.
“Who would want to live with a 28.8 imperial ton, noisy machine and put up with the disturbance of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter landing in front of their homes any time of the day or night?” she demanded.
Speaking for his constituents, Jonathan Wills – who does not sit on the planning committee – asked why  the derelict former pump-ashore fish farm, on the Ness of Sound, out by Pullar’s Loch had not been considered a suitable alternative. It was, he said, highly favoured by the pilots.
“My question is, why have they chosen this site that will cause the maximum possible disruption?”
Chief executive of NHS Shetland, Ralph Roberts, reiterated the importance of having the landing pad as close as possible to the hospital. He said diverting flights to Tingwall would increase the journey time for patients and leave ambulances tied up for longer than was necessary with patient transfers.
“We have clearly endorsed reasons why it’s essential; for many, the shorter the time it takes for the patient to be transferred to the hospital, the better the clinical outcomes.”
Calls were made for noise levels to be checked “in situ” to allow a clearer picture of the anticipated disturbance to emerge.
SIC Political Leader Gary Robinson pic 1Gary Robinson called on the motion to be approved. He cited the landing pad in Aberdeen as being close to the ARI on Westburn Road, and other developments.
“I try to put myself in the shoes of the person coming in this helicopter,” he said.
But Malcolm Bell successfully sought for additional measures which will ensure a two-year time limit is put in place from the date of completion. That will allow noise levels to be kept in check.


Add Your Comment
  • leslie sinclair

    • September 16th, 2014 2:06

    At last a new high school for Shetland looks to be on its way.

    • Sandy McMillan

      • September 16th, 2014 15:35

      Of course Shetland required a new School, but surely not at the expense of Residents in the area, I am pretty sure you would be the first one to be up in arms if they were to build a Helipad 60metres away from the front of your HOME, Before you make another comment, think very carefully at who is going to be disturbed by the Sikorsky S-92 Helicopter, landing in front of there homes, The School could have quite easily been moved a couple of hundred metres to the North.
      Then the Caravan site could be reinstated and the Helipad stay in situ, The SIC have lost in excess of £40.000, by closing down the caravan site closed, and yet the SIC keep on pleading poverty, they said they would have another Caravan site available,
      Have you been aware of a caravan site in Lerwick this is your typical Shetland Islands Counsel.

      • John Tulloch

        • September 16th, 2014 22:21


        You’re a doughty campaigner and “respect” to you for what you achieve.

        I’m saddened that the school is going where it’s going from the amenity and aesthetics of the area and it’s a shame about the campsite, a decent replacement in a pleasant, accessible place must be found.

        It’s also a pity about the helipad, however, Ralph Richardson is right about minimising the distance to the hospital and if it was up to me, civil engineering conditions permitting, I’d have had it integral with the hospital.

        I’ve been involved in mountain rescue and Navy helicopters land regularly at the Arrochar MRT Post which is about 200m from our house and about 60-100m from the nearest dwellings. They are fairly loud for about half a minute if they fly low over our house but it really has never bothered us and In twelve years in Arrochar, I’ve never heard anyone complain about them.

        I don’t know what the casualty rate is but there can’t be that many flights coming in. So I also support Gary Robinson’s comment that we need to put ourselves in the places of the people who are being flown in on the stretchers.

        I think you’ll find the thought of it is a lot worse than the reality and when the new hospital comes, surely, the helipad will be integral to it.

      • Jim Leask

        • September 17th, 2014 0:19

        Sandy, the SIC have not lost in excess of £40,000 from the campsite closing down, as it did not own or run the campsite. The Shetland Recreational Trust did. I am sure the figures they quoted was that it cost as much to run for them as it took in, although I will stand corrected if I am mistaken, on the cost/income for the SRT as I am relaying that from memory. It is an exceptional shame that there is not a campsite in Lerwick now, although having spoken to people involved in campsites outwith town, it does seem as some business has ‘decentralised’ and gone out to the country sites. A real shame is that the site was not used this year, as with the new school only getting approval now in September, it could have been open for a full tourist season. Hopefully a new site can be found shortly though, as it is very important for Lerwick to have a good campsite, and that will only help Shetland as a whole….as will a long overdue new Anderson High.

  • leslie sinclair

    • September 17th, 2014 9:24

    Looks like the helipad needs to be moved to a safer location away from houses in lochside Sandy.

  • leslie sinclair

    • September 17th, 2014 9:32

    A new campsite needs to be built for the tourists. Maybe seafield is a possibility.
    But a helipad on a new hospital is a great idea as long as it doesn’t take years to build one.

    • John Tulloch

      • September 17th, 2014 11:47

      Thanks, Leslie.

      Helicopters routinely land on areas not much bigger than many sitting room floors on moving vessels at sea, like oil rigs and, even, anti-submarine destroyers. The only risk would be when they were flying over inhabited places or crashed on landing and if the number of helicopter crashes associated with the oil rigs is anything to go by, the chances of crashing on a house in Lerwick are remote and in any case, can be easily managed by stipulating flight paths.

      There’s no reason they couldn’t land at the hospital, it would just be a bit more expensive to install the helipad.

      I daresay the oil companies would be willing to put up a bit of money?

  • Sandy McMillan

    • September 17th, 2014 12:02

    Jim, the SIC bought the campsite from the SRT, Plus more ground to accomandate the size of the School, They said prior to closing the Campsite that they would have another Campsite up and running, his do seen wan, Seafield was mentioned, I believe PETROFAC is using it to park buses, Leslie do has never said a truer word, I went to the planning meeting in my eyes it was done and dust before the start of the meeting, these guys that passed the plans to go ahead, will not have to live with a 28.8 imperial ton Sikorsky S-92 Helicopter landing in front of there home day and night, It would have taken one move of the School 100 or even 200 meters to the North, and all that was there would not have to been moved, This is another case of the SIC TREATING there populate as just another NO, John don’t get me wrong if it is life and death case by all means let it land but when you are spending in the region of £8000 per hour to bring in a patient, holding a white bandage thumb in the air carrying his own kit bag running to the Ambulance, would you or any one say that was a life or death case i would certainly would not, this is one of many that walk to the waiting Ambulance

    • Trevor Jamieson

      • September 17th, 2014 13:57

      It’s their not there Sandy.

      • Sandy McMillan

        • September 17th, 2014 19:29

        It could be any where Trevor, Just the same as the School, It has been every where along the Staney Hill except where it should have been, so if it is not THERE it should be THEIR

  • Robbie Russell

    • September 30th, 2014 18:03

    I would liked to have seen a building that was more in keeping with the area and blending into the background of Stainy Hill and not be an eye sore sticking up like a sore thumb.


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