Lerwick residents have been giving their views on plans to build about 300 homes on Staney Hill – with the amount of green space welcomed though worries about extra traffic were aired.
A number of residents from surrounding estates in Lerwick welcomed the plans unveiled at a drop-in session on Wednesday.
The draft masterplan has been prepared by a design team led by Malcolmson Architects of Scalloway and has also been shown to councillors.
Hjaltland Housing Association says it will develop four different estates on the Staney Hill site over 10 years, with building expected to start in 2021 if plans are agreed.
Initial concerns raised on Wednesday have surrounded drainage and access to the site, with the several existing roads including those in the north Staney Hill area proposed to be extended to join a 20mph route running through the development.
It is the third consultation to gather local opinion, with plans now uploaded to the council’s website.
According to the draft plans a large part of green space will remain, with houses built around the edges in three stages, over the course of 10 years.
Architect Iain Malcolmson said there had been restrictions on building houses in relation to the setting of the historic Clickimin Broch, and there were three steep valleys on the hill which meant the area was difficult to build upon.
Drainage ponds are also planned to tackle water run-off from the hill, as well as improving drainage for surrounding homes.
Staney Hill resident Linda Pottinger was among those casting their eye over the drawings.
She said: “I’m surprised [by the plans] they say they are building all these houses but it doesn’t look on the map as if it’s going to take up a lot of space.
“There’s more green than I thought there would be. It’s hard to imagine.”
She lives on one of the roads earmarked as “secondary access” for the site. If the plans went ahead she said her road should be widened or made one-way because of extra traffic.
It might also mean a loss of garages too if road changes were made.
Asked if she thought more housing should be built in Lerwick, she replied: “I think they need to. There’s a big waiting list and that’s where most of the employment is. People want to be as near [as they can]. They don’t want to have travel expenses if they don’t have to.
“I know a lot of people want houses in the country but it costs more to travel if you’re working in town.”
Freya Hunter said she hoped the houses would offer some shelter from the weather as she lives at Wista at the top of the hill. That entrance is close to the main access road planned, which ends close to the Anderson High School halls of residence.
“If they would make the road in a complete circuit and have it one-way that would ease the traffic,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jessie Williamson, who lives close to the site, was chatting to planners.
She said “nobody wants building” but added: “I think they’ve been very sensitive with what they’ve been doing [with the plans]. I also applaud the level of consultation they’ve done. They’ve listened to what people have said, and I just think they’ve done the best with what their remit is and what’s there.”
Mrs Williamson added: “People were concerned they were going to lose all the Staney Hill green… There seem’s to be an obsession with housing in Lerwick. I don’t know where the figures come from, but you wonder why they are not building in places like Brae, and rural areas.”
Former community councillor Theo Nicholson also lives in the area.
He thought it was important to provide affordable housing for young people.
He said: “It’s going to be a very difficult site to develop but I’m sure nowadays with modern equipment that it’s not impossible. Probably the main difficulty at this time is getting funding in from the Scottish government to provide infrastructure.”
Mr Nicholson said he made the point on numerous occasions previously that the population of Shetland should be one-third in Lerwick, two-thirds outwith the town.
He felt now Shetland was “tipping that balance”, adding “I have no solutions for that because it’s folk from the country that want to move in.”
He said he would like to see Scandinavian-style housing similar to the housing development in East Voe, Scalloway, to make Shetland “look a bit more Scandinavian and for the benefit of tourists it can be marketed as a part of Scandinavia that’s still in the UK.”
About 40 per cent of the housing will be single-bedroom accommodation, while a significant share will also be two-bedroom – matching the need of the housing waiting list.
The site is also expected to include about 45 small private house sites available at more affordable prices.
After the masterplan is finalised, Hjaltland would look to put out a tender in around April or May next year.
It is expected the first batch of houses would start to be built in 2020/2021, with 30 to 40 houses built each year.