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Council / Housing plan ‘not a programme for centralisation’

The new Hjaltland housing development at King Harald Street, lerwick. Photo: Hjaltland Housing Association

SHETLAND Islands Council’s housing investment plan for the next five years is “not a programme for centralisation”, despite much of the accommodation being planned for Lerwick.

That was the view of the council’s housing manager Anita Jamieson at a meeting of the local authority’s development committee on Tuesday.

The council’s strategic housing investment plan looks ahead to how new housing will be supplied in the isles, and it is refreshed on an annual basis.

The latest incarnation of the plan was approved by members of the development committee.

The plan looks to deliver 316 units of accommodation over the next five years, and it seeks just under £20 million of funding from the Scottish Government.

The plan highlights that the greatest housing need and demand is in the central mainland area, with this concentrated in Lerwick, Scalloway and the surrounding areas.

There is an emphasis in the plan on housing in Lerwick at the proposed new large developments at Staney Hill and the Knab, both of which are being planned in conjunction with Hjaltland Housing Association.

Both sites could ultimately play host to host to hundreds of houses, although they will be worked on in phases over a number of years.

The next largest development in the plan is more than 30 houses at Upper Scalloway.

There are 12 units planned in Sandwick and Gulberwick each, six for Aith, four for Walls and two in Brae.

Jamieson said that the high demand for areas like Lerwick and Scalloway is reflected in the plan, “but it is not a programme of centralisation”.

The investment plan says that “having two major sites for development [Staney Hill and the Knab] in the area of highest housing pressure is a considerable advantage for long term funding and planning of our programme”.

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“Both these sites give future flexibility to the programme and the ability to re-phase as necessary,” it adds.

“This also gives scope for more small scale, windfall sites to be developed alongside these and to strengthen the shadow programme of development.”

The plan highlights that the UK and Scottish governments’ Islands Deal, which will invest £100 million across Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles, is a “rare opportunity to seek additional investment into Shetland in support of delivery of affordable housing”.

The Knab redevelopment at the former Anderson High School site, which will provide housing, has been put forward as a project in the deal.

Committee chairman Alastair Cooper said he felt the plan was a “good report”, while Shetland South member Allison Duncan said it is “vitally important that we find more affordable housing in Shetland at a low a cost as possible”.

He also said the partnership working between the council and Hjaltland Housing Association has “paid great dividends, and long may that continue”.

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