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Hjaltland tries again

HJALTLAND Housing Association is to re-submit a planning application for 38 social housing properties at Veensgarth, five miles north of Lerwick.

In November last year councillors in Shetland refused the application against the recommendations of its own officials, because the development was on prime agricultural land.

When the association appealed to Scottish ministers, their reporter confirmed the refusal but on grounds that the development was too far away from local amenities such as the primary school and hall, not the loss of agricultural land.

Hjaltland’s property service manager Bryan Leask said the organisation had now decided to re-submit their proposal almost unchanged as it had complied with council policy.

He added: “It was our contention that we had complied with all the SIC policies on the proposal and as such we were disappointed when the Councillors refused our application.

“We are pleased that the reporter agreed with our reading of those policies and agreed that the loss of agricultural land was not a valid reason for refusal and that we had met all the conditions the council requires on Zone 3 land.

“We were, however, surprised when the application was refused on the basis of its distance from local amenities.

“This was never an issue that was raised with us as part of the application and we were disappointed that we never had an opportunity to explain the situation or defend our application on those points.

We fear for the future of housing development in rural areas of Shetland if that decision is not challenged as it would have dire consequences for any housing development in areas of Shetland that are over one kilometre from a school or hall.”

The only change to the previous application relates to the form of heating, changing from a biomass district heating plant to individual heat pumps for the properties. 

Mr Leask added that the association wanted to host a public meeting in Tingwall to discuss the development with interested members off the public.