PLANS to build houses and flats on the site of Brevik House in Lerwick look to have been shelved as its developer returns to its original idea of building a hotel on the waterfront site.
It means that a 91-bedroom hotel, which already has outline planning permission, is now likely to be built on South Road.
Breiwick Bay Properties Ltd gained planning permission last year for over 30 flats and houses on the site after seemingly giving up on its original idea to build a hotel, which first surfaced back in 2014.
But the developer is now seeking approval to progress with demolishing the old Brevik House and go ahead with the construction of the hotel and associated parking.
Shetland News contacted the developer on a number of occasions for further comment but they did not respond.
The company, which has ownership of the site, is part of Aberdeen based property developers Ardent Group and it features Shetlander Martin Watt as a director.
It maintained during the process for housing application that it would keep its options open as to what the final plans would be.
In recent years Brevik House, which was previously used by the NHS and overlooks the bay, has been utilised by Shetland Solidarity with Refugees for collecting aid donations.
The latest application, which is for the approval of matters specified in conditions imposed on the original hotel planning decision in 2017, was noted by Lerwick Community Council on 1 April and its members were supportive of a development which could help tourism and employment.
Members, however, were left unsure as to whether the site was ultimately headed for housing or a hotel.
It comes at a time when the future of the Sella Ness accommodation camp, which houses workers in the oil and gas industry, is unclear, with a number of objections lodged against an application for it to stay open until 2026.
There are also a number of hotels in Shetland newly on the market, with Lerwick’s Grand and Queens – as well as Scalloway Hotel – all put up for sale in recent weeks.
The Brevik hotel’s latest application has, however, received an objection from a local couple who run the Breiwick Guest House on Lerwick’s Kantersted Road.
Christine and Dieter Glaser said the hotel would have a “detrimental effect on the other accommodation providers in Shetland in the economic downturn of the local economy”.
They said that local hotel and guesthouses have “already had a downturn in bookings, especially in the winter, with Bristows [sic] putting all the men stuck with helicopter flights to the Scatsta camp”.
“Over the last two winters one of the biggest hotels in Lerwick has had to shut all their rooms for the winter,” the Glasers added. “All the other accommodation providers we have spoken to have had their quietest winter ever”.
They also said that if the Brevik hotel is being “built for a large corporation hotel chain then they put their prices up and down depending on their availability and will drop their prices at quiet times to fill the rooms”.
“I’m afraid a lot of people might have to shut down their businesses and then can’t get them sold as nobody would want to buy them,” the Glasers remarked.
Plans for a hotel on the Brevik House site first appeared in 2014 when the isles’ oil and gas activity was enjoying a boost as the Shetland Gas Plant was being built.
The initial plans for a 125-bedroom Holiday Inn Express were then stripped back to the 91-bedroom hotel, with the developers saying in 2017 that they had “preliminary discussions with a number of national hotel brands” about the site.