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SLAP buys land at Staney Hill

A SIZEABLE piece of land just outside Lerwick has come under public ownership to help secure future housing and education developments.

SLAP, the property arm of the Shetland Charitable Trust, yesterday (Tuesday) announced that after many months of negotiations they had purchased over 70 acres of land from the inheritor of the Nicolson Estate for an undisclosed sum.

The land stretches between Pegasus Place/Unicorn View and the rugby pitch at Clickimin, and reaches to the Old North Road, Voder View and Burnside.

Some of the land is already earmarked for the new Anderson High School, and zoned for potential housing developments.

SLAP company secretary Jeff Goddard said the purchase was a strategic investment and would help Shetland Islands Council in its decision making on where to build future schools and affordable housing in Lerwick.

Head of the council’s housing department, Chris Medley, said the local authority had “no immediate short term plans” to develop affordable housing on the land purchased by SLAP.

The SIC’s current £20 million programme to build council houses at Hoofields, in Lerwick, and at a number of other locations throughout the isles may well have to be curtailed if negotiations with the Scottish government later this week come to no conclusion.

The council hopes to secure a £4 million slice of government funding, but the Scottish government has demanded the SIC demonstrates how it would rid itself of £45 million of housing debts, accumulated during the oil boom in the 70s, before agreeing to help.

Mr Medley said it was good to know that the new land was available and he would be happy to enter into discussions with SLAP once new money for building houses in Lerwick becomes available.

The purchase of the land has been in the pipeline for some time, but legal difficulties meant that the deal could not be concluded in 2009 as was initially expected.

SLAP chairman Jim Henry said: “Legal complications made this acquisition quite a slow process, but the milestone has now been achieved.

“SLAP is very excited about the prospect of new council houses being built.”

Mr Goddard added that SLAP was a commercial operation and would look to make a good return on their investment.

SLAP, which stands for Shetland Leasing and Property Developments Limited, is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Shetland Charitable Trust.

SLAP has around £17 million invested in assets throughout the isles, such as the SBS Base, Scatsta Airstrip, Shetland College and the NAFC Marine Centre.