PROPOSALS to build new houses near Clickimin Broch in Lerwick have been met with objections due to the “significant adverse impact” they could have on the setting of the historic stone monument.
Both Historic Environment Scotland and Shetland’s regional archaeologist Val Turner have voiced concerns over an idea to build four new houses next to Westerloch Drive and another one on a site 25 metres from the broch.
Applications for planning permission in principle for the two potential developments were submitted to Shetland Islands Council late last year by Raymond Slater.
The applicant’s agent Farningham Planning Ltd claimed in a supporting statement that the developments would not adversely affect the broch or the “integrity of its setting”.
One of the applications focuses on building four detached 1.5 storey homes in a corner of the grassland which sits in front of the Clickimin Broch.
The three and four bedroom houses would be located 130m southwest of the broch and the applicant is keen for them all of them to have a driveway leading onto Westerloch Drive.
The other application is for permission in principle to demolish an existing derelict agricultural building 25m southeast of the broch and build a new home in its place.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) – which maintains the broch – has objected to both applications, saying the developments would have a “significant adverse impact” on the setting of the broch.
The organisation, which has a role in the planning system to comment on proposals which might affect scheduled monuments like the broch, said the proposed developments would be “contrary to both national and local policies for protecting the historic environment”.
The land in the immediate vicinity of the broch once formed part of the shoreline of the nearby Clickimin Loch and HES said the four-home development could “significantly affect the ability to understand the broch within its landscape setting”.
In reference to the single home application, HES said the new building would be larger than the existing one and would have a “significant impact on views to and from” the broch.
“This, together with the proposed change of land use within the overall application boundary from agricultural to garden ground, would significantly affect the sense of place,” HES added.
Local archaeologist Turner, meanwhile, said in a letter recommending refusal of the applications that the “loch level has fluctuated over the years and there is a strong possibility of there being significant archaeological remains” in the area.
The council’s roads department also recommended the current plans for the single home should be refused due to limited visibility on the proposed access route.
As part of the application, Farningham Planning Ltd said there was a “strong argument” for replacing the derelict building with a “well-designed and sited” house, which the company said would “improve the visual amenity impacts on both the immediate area and the setting of the broch”.
It continued to say that the edge of the loch has been the subject of “significant change” in recent years without detriment to its setting through the building of the Clickimin Leisure Centre and the new Anderson High School.
HES said the Clickimin Broch was occupied from the Bronze Age (around 1000 BC) to the late Iron Age (around 500 AD), although current thinking locally is that there is nothing pre-Iron Age on the site.
It is regarded of national importance and as one of the “most comprehensively excavated examples of a late prehistoric defence settlement”.
The broch is said to have been “unofficially” excavated and partly restored in the 1800s before it was professionally excavated in the 1950s.