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DVSA given more time to find new test site

Motorcycle and large good vehicle training and testing at the old Anderson High School is set to continue until the end of May. Photo: Shetland Motorbike Training

MOTORCYCLE and LGV testing will continue at the old Anderson High School in Lerwick until the end of May after the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) was given more time to find an alternative site.

The DVSA failed to find a new location for testing after it was told by Shetland Islands Council (SIC) it would have to move from the old school carpark by 31 March as plans are made to redevelop the site.

But the council has agreed to extend the deadline to 31 May to allow the DVSA to prepare an alternative site.

The site was going to be used by the SIC to house wheelie bins for its new recycling wide ahead of its isles-wide launch in July, but a spokesperson said they have been relocated to Rova Head.

The two-month extension means that testing and training for the likes of Shetland Motorbike Training and Drive Shetland shouldn’t be interrupted if a new site is sourced in time.

The companies previously admitted that they might have to sell up if no new site was found by the DVSA.

The agency has been looking at a potential new site off the old North Road near the holiday houses at the Decca.

Shetland Motorbike Training’s Steve Henry said it the extension is good news for the local training companies.

“What the council is doing is planning to put pressure on the DSA to come with timelines of when they’re going to get things done, so they’ve been given an extension just now until they all come with that,” he said.

“As long as things go ahead in the timelines that they’re saying, they’re going to try as much as possible to work together to make sure that it carries on going.”

DVSA’s director of operations Peter Hearn said the agency is continuing to source a suitable alternative to the school site.

“Shetland Islands Council has extended the lease at Anderson High School in Lerwick, ensuring that DVSA can continue to provide motorcycle module 1 and large goods vehicle tests until 31 May this year,” he said.

“DVSA continues to search for a suitable permanent site for LGV and module 1 tests in Lerwick.”

The DVSA reiterated that any changes would not affect car driving tests or motorcycle module 2 tests as these have always been scheduled to continue as usual.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael, who previously called for the DVSA chief executive to visit Shetland to look at potential sites, said there needs to be action fast.

“DVSA know what they need to do in order to continue providing a service to the people of Shetland,” he said.

“That is what the taxpayer pays them to do. We need to hear from them, and soon, about how they are going to go about doing that.”

The old Anderson site is in the process of being redeveloped after pupils moved to the new school at Lower Staney Hill in October.

Edinburgh architects 7N have been tasked with developing a masterplan, with the site expected to include housing.

Other uses which have been suggested include facilities for pre-school and nursery children, various sporting groups, hotels, a small business hub, an arts and crafts workshop and premises for classic cars.

Around 30 council staff, meanwhile, moved into one of the unused buildings recently after the local authority’s lease on its Charlotte House offices came to an end.

A retrospective change of use planning application has been submitted for the period up until 31 December.