PLANS to build a total of 300 new homes on Lerwick’s Staney Hill between now and 2030 are expected to include around 45 small private house sites available at more affordable prices.
Hjaltland Housing will develop four different schemes in different areas of the hillside over a decade, with building work on the first houses likely to start in 2021 assuming the necessary consents are secured.
The third and final consultation on a masterplan for the area was on show at the Staney Hill Hall on Wednesday evening, with architect Iain Malcolmson explaining the plans in more detail.
Bryan Leask of Hjaltland Housing said he was pleased with how the plans were taking shape, acknowledging progress had been slower than intended but putting it down to the sheer amount of information that has gone into the plans.
Around 40 per cent of the housing will be single-bedroom accommodation, while a substantial chunk will also be two-bedroom as that is what the majority of those on the housing waiting list are seeking.
Leask said a lot of folk had approached the housing association explaining they were having difficulty buying sites, with the cost of a plot in town averaging around £80,000 in recent years.
By looking at slightly smaller sites of maybe a fifth or a sixth of an acre, he hopes plots can be sold off for nearer £50,000 making it “more affordable for more folk – rather than massive big sites that folk will put massive big mansions on”.
Because of how Hjaltland receives funding, the process will be phased over around a decade. Once the masterplan is finalised, Leask said they would look to put out a tender in around April or May next year.
With many in the area having lived in the shadow of a building site while the new Anderson High School was constructed, there were one or two grumbles at the public drop-in about the prospect of more upheaval.
Leask said Hjaltland fully understood that sentiment, and explained the heavier infrastructure such as a new road and services would go in early in the process to minimise disruption. Hjaltland will also look at various techniques for excavation with that in mind.
“What we want to try and do is the bulk of the heavy work early on, so we’ve applied to the government for infrastructure funding to put in the road network and services that go with it at the beginning, to get that heavy stuff out of the way in the first couple of years,” he said.
If related infrastructure including the new road – snaking around the site from a spur in the new road leading to the AHS and ending some 80 metres higher up on the hill – are put in from 2019, it is likely to be around 2020 or 2021 before the first houses start to be built.
“Given how our funding works we’re really looking at 30-40 houses a year, 300 houses, so you’re looking at 10 years,” Leask said.
“It’s important to point out that it’s a masterplan, it’s not a final plan – that final element still has to be done, but it’s effectively a blueprint for the site.
“It sets out a set of principles that the next designer is going to have to follow, and once we’ve got this through the council process, we’ll need to advertise and tender for a design team – it might be Iain’s team, it might not be.”
Malcolmson explained that the plans feature four “character areas” that will host new housing, as well as a “green corridor” which will build on an area already planted by residents of Burgess Street by “extending that right up the east side throughout the development”.
He said the new road was “really, really difficult to get to work technically – that was just about the only place it could’ve gone”. It will be built by Hjaltland and then handed over to Shetland Islands Council, which takes responsibility for maintenance.
The first of the four areas to be developed will be the “terrace”, slotting in just above the new AHS halls of residence, followed by areas – all named by Architecture + Design Scotland (A+DS) – called the “escarpment”, “plateau” and “bowl”.
A sustainable drainage system will “take all the surface water off the site and put it into a drainage system that is a series of connected ponds”, and Malcolmson said it should have the benefit of alleviating the problem of flooding in some existing North Road gardens.
The four new clusters of housing are designed to have their own character, with providing shelter the priority. One of the more exposed areas, the “bowl”, will feature houses in sheltered gardens and walls to create additional shelter using what is known as the “planticrub principle”.
Malcolmson, who has spent two years working on the masterplan, recognises that there are likely to be challenges during the construction period.
“I mean, it’s the ‘Staney Hill’, so there’s going to be a fair amount of rock shifting and that sort of thing! We don’t know exactly, but we imagine it’s going to be similar to the school. They’ll be trying to minimise the amount of rock-breaking, but there will have to be some.”
He added: “It’s the last major site for housebuilding in Lerwick, and the most difficult one, which is why it’s been left to the end.”
- You can view all the consultation documents here.