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Health / Lerwick flats used for NHS accommodation during pandemic after Hjaltland purchase

Photo: Paul Leask

THE SCOTTISH Government has commended Hjaltland Housing Association and NHS Shetland for working together to accommodate essential health workers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The housing association purchased six one bedroom properties in Lerwick in the middle March as the country was going into lockdown.

The flats were originally built as hotel staff accommodation on the site of the former Judane knitwear factory on Lerwick’s North Road.

An agreement was quickly struck to allow five of the properties to be used as accommodation for key NHS staff.

The housing association – which also thanked Shetland Islands Council for its support in the process – received £590,000 in grant money from the Scottish Government’s affordable housing supply programme.

The Scottish minister for local government, housing and planning Kevin Stewart said: “Hjaltland Housing and NHS Shetland are to be commended for their hard work to provide temporary accommodation for essential NHS workers at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The housing association’s head of investment Paul Leask added: “The new properties were purchased in the middle of March just when the country was going into lockdown and our local NHS team were looking for suitable accommodation to house essential workers.

“We very quickly agreed to provide five of the properties to them on a temporary basis and facilitated the installation of white goods etc. so they were ready for use within a matter of days.”

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson said: “Knowing the staff were able to access high quality accommodation was instrumental in us being able to sustain staffing levels that were essential in ensuring we could meet the needs of patients with Covid-19.”

Hjaltland Housing Association, meanwhile, has confirmed that investigative work has started on the future housing site at Staney Hill in Lerwick.

The association said the investigative work is necessary to provide “critical information to help with future tenders”.

The planning application for the first phase of the housing development – which features over 120 homes – was recently submitted to Shetland Islands Council.