Lochside residents have expressed concern that some of the 300-strong workforce on the new Anderson High School will be housed on-site at the Staney Hill about 100 metres from existing houses.
Building firm Morrison Contractors said they would provide 50 rooms or beds on site as financial closure on the ambitious new high school and halls of residence was announced yesterday.
Morrison construction regional director Donald McLachlan said that the accommodation was only there to guarantee workers a bed when they arrived in Shetland and it was intended that they move into locally provided rooms once they got established.
He said he understood the planned accommodation was in the “public domain” already and that Morrison intended to tell people directly when it started sending out newsletters in the area.
But local residents appear to have learned of the plan through rumours from the construction site itself, where workmen told them that they would be building accommodation for the AHS workforce.
The Shetland Times understands that on-site accommodation is one of the options that Morrison had tabled before the SIC’s project management committee, headed by Trevor Smith. It offers the firm “ease of management” of its workforce and can be exercised under permitted development rights without the need for planning permission.
South Lochside resident Sandy McMillan has written to The Shetland Times saying that he was told the accommodation will hold up to 200 individuals “probably no more than 100 metres from the residents at North Lochside and Bruce Crescent.”
He adds: “This type of accommodation should be built out of town, not on the doorstep of residential homes. The Shetland Islands Council planning department, if you can call them that, have totally lost the plot and their marbles.”
He adds that when Nederdale was built by Miller construction, their camp was located out of town, and says that a location beside Shetland Marts north of Lerwick would have made more sense.
Another resident, who declined to be named said that he had received an anonymous tip off that Morrison Construction was planning to build the accommodation block and was outraged this was proceeding without the public being warned.
He said: “I am just appalled this is happening. Anyone else looking for planning permission for anything gets knocked back and this is going ahead without planning permission.
“They should not be doing anything unless the neighbours and folk around here were told of it first.”
He said that he council was acting as a “law unto themselves” where important decisions were made in secret “peerie meetings”.
Les Sinclair emailed on Wednesday saying: “I was told this morning by someone employed in a managerial capacity on the new Anderson High site at Lochside that there is to be accommodation for 140 site workers on the site, at the northern end, in proximity to the office block.
“Since it was the first I had been aware of it, although I studied the plans at the time of the application, I wondered if this was something that was common knowledge?”
SIC chief executive Mark Boden said that it would have been wrong to announce the accommodation plans before the deal was signed between the contractual parties.