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Couple hope to turn historic Unst house into self-catering accommodation

Sunita (left) and Fred outside Hamars.

PLANS are afoot to breathe new life into a disused historic listed building in Unst by turning it into a “landmark for the local community” as well as a resource for tourists.

Fred Schlomka and Sunita Staneslow have bought Hamars in Haroldswick, a two-story waterfront stone house built in the 18th century.

They have now submitted a planning application to Shetland Islands Council to strip back and restore the dilapidated building in the view of ultimately converting it into self-catering accommodation.

There are also hopes to eventually create a workshop and gallery in the outbuildings.

The application comes after the planning service put a halt on Schlomka clearing out the building earlier this year because, as a B-listed building, consent was required for any work deemed to be an alteration.

In a support statement for the renovation work, which is described as a four or five year project, the couple said the house – previously owned by Shetland Amenity Trust – had become “completely derelict”.

“The slate on the roof now needs completely replaced, and most of the interior has rotted out,” Schlomka and Staneslow wrote.

“What has saved the building from crumbling entirely, was its one-metre wide stone walls which are still perfectly plumb and appears to be sitting on solid rock. However a complete restoration is in order.

“We plan to bring back the functionality of the property as an historic landmark, a resource to the community, and to service the increasing number of tourists that visit the island.

“Due to its proximity to Victoria’s Vintage Tearooms and the Boat Haven, there is already a steady stream of tourists through the area during the season.

“At a later date, permission will be sought to allow the building to be used as self-catering accommodations, and for the existing outbuildings to be converted into workshop and gallery space for local and visiting artists and craftspeople.

“This will restore the property as a landmark for the local community, add to the existing range of activities for tourists, and provide employment for local people.”

The restoration would be of “archaeological integrity – to carefully remove the layers of history and uncover the stories that lie beneath, then use this information to create a sensitive plan for restoring the interior”.