WORK ON building 76 new houses at Hoofields, in Lerwick, will get under way this month after Shetland Islands Council’s planning board gave the go ahead for one of the largest council house building programmes in Scotland.
The local authority is investing around £8 million in the project, which will be constructed in phases over the next three years.
It also involves the removal of 32 existing chalets on the site and moving the residents into new permanent accommodation at Hoofields.
Shetland Livestock Marketing Group (SLMG), which operates the nearby Shetland Marts and is also building a new abattoir next door, voiced concern over the development, as did the North Staney Hill Community Association.
SLMG chairman Ronnie Eunson told Wednesday’s meeting that the farming group did not object to the development, but was keen to make its concerns heard to avoid potential future conflicts.
He said SLMG would lose some of its lairage facilities near the mart where lambs could be held temporarily during the sales season, but received assurances from the council that alternative land nearby would be made available.
John Bulter, of the local community association, said that while welcoming the re-development of the Hoofields area with permanent housing, he felt that the council should reconsider the proposed mix of one, two, three and four bedroom houses.
He said that in order to create a “balanced healthy community” the number of 28 one bedroom flats needed to be reduced as there was “already a disproportionally high number” of such accommodation in the area.
But planning officers said that the proportion of one bedroom flats within the scheme precisely reflected the composition of the council’s long waiting list for affordable housing.
Councillor Bill Manson said: “We are removing 32 chalets, so the increase in one bedroom accommodation is not really huge.”
The application was moved by Lerwick north councillor Caroline Miller and seconded by Cecil Smith.
The council’s housing boss Chris Medley said afterwards that the Hoofields scheme was the first large scale council house building programme in the isles for decades.
He said it would go some way to tackle the shortage of affordable housing in the isles and would also help protect jobs in the isles’ construction sector.
Tender documents for the building work will be sent out to the industry within the next few weeks.
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