PLANS to redevelop the Tingwall glasshouse into a community growing venture have been dropped.
Environment action group Transition Shetland has abandoned its efforts to convert the 2,500 square metre building into a horticultural, education and therapy cenre after more than two years.
The group said they had been unable to generate enough public support to overcome the major hurdles they faced, especially negotiating a deal with the building’s current owner Ghufar Razaq, of Home Furnishings.
Transition Shetland raised £20,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and LEADER – as well as investing member’s personal funds – for a feasibility study that demonstrated there was a viable long term future for the building in community ownership.
The study showed widespread support, with many people expressing an interest in renting plots. A public meeting in March attracted 35 people to discuss the plan.
Yet the group said this support had not resulted in sufficient new interest to take their plans forwards.
Chairman Pete Bevington said: “We have taken this decision with considerable sadness and dismay after so much work has been put into this project. “While we were able to demonstrate a huge amount of public support for what we were trying to do, we have not seen the active interest that we need to give us confidence to take this any further.
“The owner of the building is seeking more than twice as much as Shetland’s only commercial valuer has said the building is worth, a gap we feel is too great to bridge with the resources at our disposal.
“The need for such a community facility has never been greater, as more and more people look for the opportunity to grow under the protection of plastic or glass.
“In the years ahead the combination of climate change and oil price rises will see the cost of food going up, especially in Shetland where it currently has to be imported by fuel-guzzling ships.
“In community ownership the Tingwall glasshouse could have played a central role in helping people to grow more of their own food.
“We will now concentrate our efforts on other ways to help Shetland become a more resilient community in the face of the challenges ahead.”
Transition Shetland will make the information it has generated from the feasibility study available on its website www.transitionshetland.org.uk
The group thanked everyone who helped in the project, including the Big Lottery Fund, the local LEADER action group, Shetland Islands Credit Union, AB Associates, Richard Gibson Architects and everyone who has given their support and encouragement along the way.
Transition Shetland meets on Monday 19 May at 7pm at Islesburgh community centre where Jay Hawkins from Shetland Cheese will be talking about local produce and the revival of the farmers’ market.