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Council / Archaeologist warns against approving plans for house near broch: ‘This location is totally inappropriate’

The plans are demolish this old building and replace with a house. The photo was taken from just outside the broch. Photo: Shetland News

THE LOCATION of a proposed house near the Clickimin Broch is “totally inappropriate” and could result in a public inquiry if it is given planning permission.

That is the view of Shetland’s regional archaeologist Dr Val Turner, who has advised the council’s planning service not to approve the application.

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Planning permission in principle is being sought to demolish a derelict building and create a four-bedroom, one storey house in its place, around 35 metres south east from the historic Clickimin Broch.

The application, from Raymond Slater, follows a similar submission which was ultimately rejected by planners last year over concerns that a house would have a negative impact on the setting of the well preserved remains of the Iron Age structure.

Historic Environment Scotland, which looks after the broch, has already objected to the latest plans, saying it would have a “significant adverse impact” on the setting of the monument.

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The building which the applicant wants to demolish is located on the left of this photo, near to the edge of the loch. Photo: The Shetland Flyer/Rory Gillies

Dr Turner also previously recommended to the council that the application be rejected.

But in a new letter to the planning service she said she would be “extremely unhappy” if the application was granted following her advice.

It comes after she was asked to provide possible conditions should the plans be approved.

Dr Turner replied: “I never ask you to refuse applications lightly but this location is totally inappropriate for a house and could end up at public inquiry should you consent it.

“In such circumstances I don’t see how I could act on behalf of the planning department in an inquiry if the issue was that you had not taken my advice.

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“What I have found once before when I thought that I was being kind to the applicant to condition a consent is that the costs – he claims that he ended up paying in the region of £120,000 and neither he or I were in any way satisfied at the end of the day. In the case of this site, the costs could be even greater.”

Whilst Dr Turner did provide possible conditions, she warned there would need to be a full archaeological excavation.

“It is possible that this might be lengthy and costly – think what we found unexpectedly around Old Scatness Broch – it is common that island brochs have associated structures on the shoreline,” she wrote.

“However, nothing will entirely mitigate for the damage which it would do to the setting of the broch and the public’s views and understanding of it.

“I strongly advise you not to open a can of worms which will run and run and which no-one (not least the applicant) will end up feeling satisfied with.”

The application remains under consideration.

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