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Surveys to evaluate need for housing in north and west

| Written by Shetland News

SURVEYS are being handed out across Northmavine and the Sandness and Walls area to find out more about how housing provision can help sustain and support communities in remote and rural areas.

Shetland Islands Council has commissioned the surveys through the Scottish Government’s £30 million rural and islands housing funds, which aim to increase the supply of affordable housing in outlying areas.

Highlands-based consultants Helen Barton and Donald Lockhart are undertaking the survey and paper copies will be delivered to every household in the two areas in the coming days.

Additional copies will be available from the local community development groups, the Hillswick and Walls shops and the council’s community development officers in Lerwick.

Electronic versions are also available to complete online at the Highland Community Resources website.

The results of the survey will help to analyse local housing markets and the impact that housing has on local employment.

Anyone with an interest in the community as an existing or potential resident, or as an employer, is asked to complete the survey by the end of November.

Barton said: “The more information we get back the more evidence we will have about current needs and gaps in provision in either area.”

Lockhart added: “Helen and I have worked with small communities across the Highlands and Islands for many years, and have seen time and again how important the right type of housing provision is.

“Small changes can make a big difference to remote rural areas, and community driven change can have an enormous impact on the long-term sustainability of an area.

“We know there are sites available for development in both communities, but having information to make sure the right type of development takes place in the right place is of utmost importance.”

Waas Development Group’s Iris Sandison said no new affordable family housing has been built in Walls since 1974.

“We have kept trying to get new homes built but as turnover is so low people don’t always bother to register a need,” she added.

“This is a real opportunity for a community led development. We are encouraging folk to come forward to get as high a level of returns as possible to get as much evidence as we can about our local housing needs.”

Northmavine Community Development Company’s Maree Hay said: “I always mind somebody saying housing in Northmavine wasn’t just an issue, it was the issue.

“This survey is a really important opportunity for us to find out the extent of that and we want as many people as possible to complete it.”

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