Plans to build up to 400 homes on Staney Hill have moved a step further – after planning permission in principle has been granted for the development by Shetland Islands Council.
The application, submitted by Shetland Leasing and Property Development Ltd (SLAP) and Hjaltland Housing Association, is for a major residential development on the 29 hectare site.
SIC planners recommended the application be approved, subject to a lengthy list of conditions for more details and a masterplan.
SLAP held a pre-planning application, public consultation event about the development, which includes affordable homes, at the Clickimin in March attended by 52 people.
The company said this was mainly people from neighbouring properties and it had “engaged widely and openly” with a range of stakeholders including Lerwick Community Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Historic Scotland.
“Concerns on issues such as the need for new tree planting, open space, public access, traffic, drainage and potential visual impacts on the setting of the scheduled Clickimin Broch monument have all been fully taken into account,” SLAP said.
Both Historic Scotland and SEPA withdrew objections last year after settling their concerns.
Lerwick Community Council was in favour of the plans, though community councils in Northmavine, Yell and Dunrossness objected.
Three households in Lerwick made formal objections and residents in four homes on North Road had concerns about the road behind them used as access to the site.
They said it would not be suitable for heavy construction traffic as the foundation stones were laid on moorland.
Residents said any construction traffic would cause serious subsidence and drainage problems to the road, and retaining wall underneath the road. The retaining wall was the boundary to all their properties, hence would affect them.
Theo Nicholson, one of the residents, spoke at the meeting of the council’s planning board this afternoon. He spoke on behalf of residents and said the joint letter about access was not an objection to the plans.
Mr Nicholson said they very much welcomed the initiative to build housing in the Lerwick area.
But he said: “I believe the rest of Shetland should not be suffering because of this particular development”.
He warned of a slide towards centralisation, and said it would impact on rural areas and how they maintain a vibrant community.
Rock blasting part of the site was a concern, he said and he noted the housing development at Quoys and the problems of dust and noise that residents there experienced.
Mr Nicholson also raised worries about drainage issues when excavating the site and he called for a row of pine trees to be planted on North Road to act a screen to the development.
“I wish the development well,” he added and he hoped a lot of effort went into the process to cause as little disruption to residents in the area.
SIC councillors backed the proposals but Malcolm Bell and Drew Ratter left the meeting on grounds of conflict of interest with them being trustees on the Shetland Charitable Trust, which owns SLAP.
Councillor Billy Fox said this was “understandably a large development” because of the demand for housing.
But, he warned cognisance had to be taken to the objections from the community councils.
He said while the development was very much required, it was not excluding housing developments in other areas. He noted there was significant employment in the Ness with Sumburgh Airport and there was maybe not as many houses as there could be.
But, he added: “There’s a misrepresentation this is going to go ahead to the exclusion of other areas” and he wanted to dispel that.
Political leader Gary Robinson said previously housing development in Lerwick had been stifled, prior to the Quoys development and added it was not an exclusion of other areas.
“I think this is potentially a good project but I think the planning that we are discussing today is just one hurdle.
“Financing and getting it off the ground is going to be a hurdle too”.
Mr Robinson said the council could not deny the 450 people in Lerwick on Hjaltland’s waiting list.
Afterwards SLAP chairwoman Susan Groat, said: “SLAP is delighted that this application has been approved and now looks forward to concluding the land sale deal with Hjaltland Housing Association which will lead to a new and much needed housing development in Lerwick.
“I’d like to thank planning consultant Alan Farningham and his team, the SIC’s planning department and other stakeholders who worked with us in a professional manner to ensure this successful outcome”.
More in Friday’s Shetland Times.