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Community / Church moves step closer to taking on science block at old Anderson

The science building at the old Anderson High School. Photo: Shetland News

A LOCAL church has made progress in its goal to take on the science block at the old Anderson High School in Lerwick.

New Life Shetland is keen to turn the redundant building, which is owned by Shetland Islands Council, into a community cafe with a soft play area, as well as develop dedicated youth and children’s spaces.

A “significant space” could be used for the church’s programme of events, housing its congregation – while there is also potential to provide rooms for counselling and mental health support.

Pastor John Rollo said on Tuesday that the church was told last week that it was successful in its application under asset transfer legislation.

He said that this means “we have secured the right to transfer and will be working towards this over the next six months”.

“We have got six months from now to make that a formal offer and then there’s another six months to work through that process,” Rollo added.

He said if everything is successful then the end result would be the church buying the building from the council.

The science block is one of a handful of buildings due to be kept at the old Anderson site when the area gets redeveloped with housing.

Pupils left the old school in October 2017 when the new Anderson opened near to the Clickimin.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 allows community bodies to make requests to local authorities for assets that they feel they could make better use of, and Christian church New Life Shetland pinpointed the old Anderson’s science block back in 2019.

Manager of assets, commissioning and procurement at the SIC Robert Sinclair previously said that the council is “willing to discuss asset transfer with any properly constituted community organisations who want to improve outcomes for people in their community”.

There are already some examples of asset transfer in Shetland under the legislation.

This includes the Community Development Company of Nesting’s purchase of the village’s Aald Skül, while Unst Partnership bought the unit it leased from Highlands and Islands Enterprise in Baltasound through the scheme to create a second-hand shop.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021