A pizzeria between Voe and Brae was given the green light by the council’s planning committee today in a unanimous decision, to the relief and joy of applicant Henry MacColl and his family.
The application for the eatery at Parkgate had previously been refused by planning officials as being against the council’s local development plan.
According to the plan developments should be adjacent to existing settlements and should ideally be accessed by public transport, or by walking or cycling. But in spite of being on the main A970 road, it was deemed the pizzeria was too far from Brae or Voe and would contribute to climate change as people would be likely to drive there.
But Mr MacColl, who is half Italian, did not give up and received huge public support for his proposal. After the meeting he said he was “overwhelmed” that he could go ahead with the 24-seat building next to his house, to produce authentic Italian food in a clay oven.
The planning refusal prompted public disbelief and Mr MacColl received massive support for his proposal, with hundreds of comments to the planners in favour of the pizzeria, from Shetland and beyond, plus support from MSP Tavish Scott.
At the meeting, planning official Richard MacNeill said the Shetland local development plan had been drafted after much consultation. It was a statutory document for sustainable growth, to ensure “vibrancy and vitality of settlements” and to enhance employment opportunities – and if the application had been for Brae or Voe, it would have been passed.
Mr MacColl, addressing the committee, said the location would be ideal because of its unrestricted views over the “serene backdrop” of Olnafirth. His family had counted the traffic going along the road, and in the space of three hour, between 4pm and 7pm on weeknights, there had been an average of 600 vehicles passing, and on Sunday, between noon and 7pm, there had been 1,041.
He said Tesco vans, as well as many food wholesalers, passed the location, and he was prepared to deliver pizza to minimise people’s travel.
Another point, not mentioned by planners, was that the Mediterranean diet was very healthy and was “instant food, not fast food”, unlike some of Shetland’s offerings.
He added that the “overwhelming majority of the Shetland public want this to happen”.
Councillors questioned the exact meaning of a “settlement”, and what being “adjacent” to one meant.
Peter Campbell asked if Busta would have been given planning permission, and Andrea Manson raised the same issue about Braewick in Eshaness. And, she asked, is a bus route defined as somewhere the bus passes? If so, there were many buses passing Parkgate.
Drew Ratter moved that the application be granted, and Ms Manson, like Mr Ratter, a councillor for Shetland North, was “happy” to second him.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr MacColl said: “I’m thrilled and overwhelmed by the positive reaction of the members of the planning committee. I was unsure how things would go, but I was struck by the positive comments and common sense has prevailed. The planners need to review how they process applications.”
Chairman of the meeting Frank Robertson said it was likely the local development plan would be reviewed.