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Library edges closer to move back to old premises

The library's current base at St Ringans Church (left) is a stone's throw away from the old premises at Lower Hillhead. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND Library has moved one step closer to returning to its old premises at Lerwick’s Lower Hillhead after a planning application was submitted to the council.

While the move was expected to take place at some point this year, Shetland Islands Council confirmed on Thursday that there is still no exact timetable in place.

In February the local authority approved plans for the library to move back into its old premises at an estimated cost of around £900,000.

The library has been located at the nearby St Ringans Church since 2002, but there have been concerns over its size.

The Lower Hillhead building has since been used in a number of ways, including for office space, storage and events.

It is also currently temporarily housing council staff from its capital programmes, asset and properties and procurement departments following the closure of the local authority’s base at North Ness over safety fears.

As part of the move, the building – which also featured a museum on its upper floor – is set to undergo an extensive renovation, with work expected to be done on roofing, interiors and curtain walling.

SIC capital programme executive manager Robert Sinclair could not put an exact timeframe on the move, but he said things are progressing well.

“The planning process and the application for change of use and related plans are obviously an essential stage for this project,” he said.

“Detailed design work for the building is well underway but the timetable for the work to be done has not yet been finalised.”

As it is not clear when work will start, the SIC could not say if its staff currently housed in the old building would need to be relocated back to North Ness before the renovation can begin.