Lerwick Lanes plans are a ‘big mistake’, says community councillor

The SIC has been warned it is “making a big mistake” over proposals to reduce car parking in the Lerwick Lanes masterplan.

Lerwick Community Council member Scott Nicolson raised constituents’ concerns at last night’s (Monday) meeting.

“I feel there is a bit of disappointment with the local authority with regards to the Lerwick Lanes,” he said.

“The council are going ahead with this masterplan in the face of a lot of opposition, publicly and consultation-wise.

“I feel they are making a big mistake here.”

Mr Nicolson said the loss of parking was a particular concern given how full the old swimming pool car park had been recently with Victoria Pier closed for the arrival of cruise ships.

The SIC has been severely criticised over its selection of the “compromise option” for the masterplan at last week’s development committee meeting.

The proposals will see up to 15 homes built but also the loss of as many as 21 parking spaces.

While the community gardens will be retained, they will be reduced in size.

The SIC’s depute leader Gary Robinson, who described the approach as a “compromise” at last week’s meeting, defended the decision to LCC members.

He said the council was restricted in what it could do in lanes due to its status as a conservation area.

“Legislation stipulates we have to not only maintain the conservation area but improve it wherever we can,” he said.

Mr Robinson said a “big chunk” of the site could only be used for housing – and he felt the chosen option made the most of that.

The council has already demolished several houses in Pit and Park lanes, with more still to be torn down.

Mr Robinson said that housing needed to be replaced as the council had committed to do so in its local development and conservation plans.

“It was a difficult decision for members to take but there was certainly an understanding around the council chamber in what we could do there,” he said.

Councillor Karen Fraser agreed the housing needed to be replaced.

“It was a real shame they were left empty for so long but we can’t lost that amount of housing from the middle of Lerwick,” she said.

“We need the houses back.”

Councillor Amanda Hawick also supported the additional housing – and said there needed to be a wider discussion about “the future of Shetland” and how to grow its population.

The loss of parking, however, was more of a concern for members.

Mr Robinson said the loss of 21 parking spaces was the “worst case scenario”.

He said more parking could be created underneath some of the new housing.

And even if 21 parking spaces were lost, he said that represented less than five per cent of available car parking within three minutes of Commercial Street.

But LCC chairman Jim Anderson said he shared Mr Nicolson’s concern about the potential loss.

He noted that the spaces set to go were some of the more easily accessed and better used spaces.

Lerwick North and Bressay member Arwed Wenger raised the suggestion of a multi-storey car park but that was immediately shot down by councillor Stewart Hay, who said it would “destroy” the town’s heritage.


Add Your Comment

    • June 4th, 2024 13:01

    Most progressive towns and cities across the UK and Europe are going car-free and are commercially thriving. Now we have the selfish petrol heads wetting themselves over the loss of a few parking spaces. How about a car-free Lerwick, including Tesco and the Co-op. A decent bus service and who knows The Street may stop its endless decline and Lerwick become a pleasant place to shop and visit.


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