The biggest “hotel” to ever be built in Shetland could soon appear on the slopes of Lerwick’s Ladies Drive, north of the old Decca station.
The “snoozebox” hotel would be built from shipping containers and could be erected quickly to accommodate a large workforce.
The council’s planning department is now considering an application for the 160-bed snoozebox hotel, which would be built in two blocks of 80 rooms each. The identical blocks will be two-storey with 40 rooms on each floor.
The application also includes “containerised” social space and parking for 134 vehicles. If built, it would be a temporary structure.
The planning application by Snoozebox Holdings Plc of London was received at the beginning of this month, but planning officials did not know anything about its intended use.
Snoozebox’s Ian O’Doherty said the company specialised in temporary accommodation, and used snoozeboxes for events such as the Edinburgh Festival. The company offers accommodation in areas where there are major infrastructure projects, and Mr O’Doherty said the hotel would comprise shipping containers coming in on trucks, with four rooms to each container. Each “compact” room would have a double bed and a bunk, plus small en-suite, TV and wi-fi, heating and air conditioning, but would be used for single occupancy.
The accommodation could be used for oil and gas workers, or for the new AHS workforce, he said. It could even be for people stranded if flights or boats are cancelled.
Mr O’Doherty said: “We’re looking at a surge of workers because of [local] infrastructure projects. This won’t impact on existing hotels.” The planning application for the snoozebox is for five years, after which it would be taken away.
He added: “The submission of planning is a normal part of our business development. A successful planning outcome does not guarantee that we will create a portable hotel in Shetland. Planning tends to be a process that takes several months to complete and as such we submit planning in order to ensure, that if we decide to progress a project, that we are capable of deploying the hotel quickly.
“Depending on the outcome of planning we will then look at what the opportunities are and then decide on how we progress the project or not.”
Snoozeboxes can be erected in a matter of weeks, sometimes even days, with electricity and water integrated (if necessary) and in varying configurations. There is currently one in the Falklands, with planning permission for one year.
The hotel could be used for workers on the new AHS. PR manager of Galliford Try, Morrison Construction’s parent company, Lynsey Anderson said: “On the project, we build up gradually to a peak workforce of around 225 operatives in the last quarter of 2016, and from the start of 2017 that drops off gradually.
“Sleeping accommodation will be provided for workers adjacent to the site works. Initially, that will be 25 sleeper units containing 50 bedrooms. Previous experience has been that the site accommodation is used for a few weeks until other local accommodation is identified by the workers.
“We are aware that accommodation can be difficult to secure on the island and so the plan is to have the facility available until the project is complete, when it will be removed in its entirety. We will review its use and add or deduct units based on that usage. We are also renting property locally for staff.”