Community council backs social housing plans

Lerwick Community Council has backed plans to build 21 houses at the old observatory site in the town – despite objections from residents.

The social housing for Hjaltland Housing Association would consist of 12 one-bedroom properties, eight two-bedroom properties and one three-bedroom home.

If given the green light, they would be built on a site directly behind Hjaltland’s existing Nordavatn social housing site.

But residents who live in the five private homes in the old observatory area have objected to the plans.

In a letter to the council which several residents submitted, they have said the house plans do not respect the design or scale of existing homes and “would have a detrimental effect on the immediate neighbourhood”.

The proposed development, residents argue, is of “unacceptably high density” and “would lead to over development in what is a low density area”.

They noted there were already 22 one-bedroom homes at Nordavatn and said another 12 would not improve the neighbourhood.

“To build more single living accommodation would alter the fabric of our community greatly, we would go from living in a nice family area, to being outnumbered by single living accommodation, which in itself creates a problem.

“Noise disturbance would soon become an issue, the quantity of vehicles on the road would become problematic for everyone, especially the families who have children.

“Child safety is our main concern with so many single living accommodation surrounding us and our neighbours, already there have been incidents where tenants of Hjatland Housing Association have been wandering through private gardens, being abusive to dog walkers and a high volume of police traffic have been seen visiting Nordavatn regularly.

“These types of incidents will become more of a concern if the planning of this development goes ahead.”

Concerns have also been raised about the plans not having enough parking spaces, and disruption to residents in the private observatory homes caused by the building work.

According to the plans the site has been highlighted as having “development potential” under the council’s Shetland Local Development Plan 2014.

Last night residents Calum and Renata Sinclair, who live in one of the private observatory buildings spoke to community councillors about their concerns.

Mr Sinclair said told the meetingit was a family area and “it’s just far too much accommodation for the size of the area”.

He said if all these homes were to be built it would have “a huge negative impact on the area” and if the plans were more family oriented then he would not be here speaking to councillors.

Community council chairman Jim Anderson said he had spoken to Hjaltland chief executive Bryan Leask, who told him there were about 450 people in Lerwick on the association’s waiting list. Eighty-five per cent were in need of one and two-bedroom properties, said Mr Anderson.

He agreed there were not enough family properties in Lerwick, but added, “we have got to build what folk are looking for”.

More in Friday’s Shetland Times


Add Your Comment
  • Suzy Jolly

    • March 3rd, 2015 15:45

    And here’s at least one reason why community councils should be scrapped. They don’t democratically represent people.

    Interesting how the ST doesn’t appear to want to report on the number of vacant community council seats throughout the Shetland Isles and perhaps run a story as to why people aren’t interested in them. Take the website for Dunrossness Community Council. Woefully out of date with the last set of minutes available online from it being August 2014.

    WHY should the views of a community council be more important than the residents affected? Why is the voice of a community council even listened to?

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 4th, 2015 9:34

      The Lerwick Community Council represents all of Lerwick, not just Nordavatn, and the need for single occupancy social housing in Lerwick is abundantly clear.

      Nobody suggests the views of the Community Council supercede those of nearby residents. This article highlights many of those concerns and people have opportunity to raise them with the planning board if they wish.

  • John Anderson

    • March 3rd, 2015 20:52

    Well done Lerwick Community Council. Houses are needed for all the Lerwick folk waiting – not sure why Ms Jolly thinks the councillors should support 5 residents when there are thousands of folk in Lerwick, many with very different opinions. There is a deal of prejudice being displayed against ‘single people’ here.

    • Suzy Jolly

      • March 4th, 2015 14:20

      How many residents of Lerwick voted for the representatives of the Lerwick Community Council? Every person on the electoral roll in Lerwick?

      Many a time the SIC will view consultation with a community council as being public consultation. Now how much consultation did the community council undertake with the people they allegedly represent before voting on this issue (or any, for that matter)? Simply saying “oh, well it’s on our agenda” isn’t always enough. Whilst LCC may well make their agendas freely and easily available, not all community councils do.

      There is need for more housing all over the Shetland Isles, not just Lerwick.

  • iantinkler

    • March 4th, 2015 11:50

    Over 300 people requiring accommodation one or two bedroom accommodation in Lerwick are on the association’s waiting list. Just how many empty rooms are there where the wicked bedroom tax falls due? Simples I would have thought, in a time of restricted resource maybe just a few could share their accommodation, or our we all just too selfish and spoon fed into expecting something for nothing, courtesy of the state?

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 4th, 2015 14:45

      Is that possible currently?

      I would expect many young people would be happy to share a multiple occupancy home in a Council or Hjaltland scheme if that option were available. I’m not sure with the way social housing works if it is though.

  • David Spence

    • March 4th, 2015 14:41

    In the ‘ me, society ‘ it does not surprise me at all that the need for single accommodation has increased significantly. As a consequence of the ‘ me, society ‘ the whole breakdown and fragmentation of the family structure has disappeared (more single people, more couples cohabiting rather than getting married, more people demanding their rights and independence etc etc) and been replaced by the ‘ look after number, and screw everybody else society ‘ (a typical trait of a society where economics, commercialism, greed and profits (call it jungle survival) takes priority………….certainly in the capitalist, vile Tory State of the UK).

    However, if the role of the community council is to represent the voice of the community, then I would suggest they take steps in which their voice can be heard, and not glanced over with a touch of ignorance prevailing.

    Yes, there is an issue of more people becoming single and wanting their own house, but, as mentioned, it should not be at the cost of fragmenting, breaking up the community further………… said ‘ There is too much emphasis on the ‘ me, society ‘ and not enough on the community.

    • Robert Duncan

      • March 4th, 2015 23:48

      Living in a one-bedroomed property does not prevent somebody from being an active member of their community. A properly designed housing scheme can be a great catalyst for community cohesion of social interaction. It’s not selfishness that leads to people living alone.


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