Councillors go against officials’ advice twice at planning meeting

Officials had their recommendations rejected twice on Monday as councillors decided to approve two planning applications.

They had recommended that councillors refuse permission for a new house in Weisdale and an extension to a house in Lerwick, but the planning committee decided otherwise.

The first of these ran into problems with environmental health due to noise levels from a neighbouring wind turbine being deemed too high for the proposed house in Cott, despite the applicants themselves, Norman and Monica Moncrieff, being fine with the noise and neighbours happy with the application. 

Councillors were sympathetic to the couple’s cause, with Cecil Smith saying the applicants had been “very reasonable” through a long process.

Catherine Hughson said she had “every sympathy with the young couple”, who had “jumped through a number of hoops at great expense to themselves” and pointed out the fact they had lived in the area for 10 years already, showing their commitment to it.

Councillors were generally in favour of granting planning permission to the proposed Weisdale residence, and decided to go ahead after a brief adjournment to discuss the matter with each other and officials.

The second application, from David and Joanna Black, was recommended to be turned down due to its design, size and proposed material finishes, with the extension deemed out of character with the Lerwick street, Fogralea.

However, George Smith pointed out that the character of an area was subjective and difficult to define, while Moraig Lyall said they had done as much as they could do to respect the area and was supportive of the “more modern environment” they were trying to create.

The Lerwick extension decision was not so clear cut amongst councillors, with Davie Sandison and convener Malcolm Bell supporting a motion to refuse the planning application, but who were eventually outnumbered by other members, with Moraig Lyall, Catherine Hughson and Cecil Smith supporting an amendment from George Smith to grant planning permission.

George Smith said that it “always comes across as criticism” of council officials but that was not the case, that officials were working within current local development plans and guidance, and to a certain extent had their hands tied.


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