ANYONE casting a glance over the north side of Scalloway may have noticed the colourful red, blues and greens of the large housing scheme being built in the village.
Contractor E&H already has a number of blocks of houses up on site for a development which will ultimately create 32 new homes for Hjaltland Housing Association.
Work on the development got underway in March.
When Shetland News was given a look around the Upper Scalloway project last week around 20 people on site were plugging away on what should represent a significant housing boost for the village.
The first blocks of flats are the most advanced, and work continues on erecting the semi-detached houses. Most of the homes – 26 – will be made available for social rent, while the remaining six will go up for purchase through the Scottish Government’s shared equity scheme.
The units, which nod to the association’s Stura scheme in Tingwall, will range from one-bedroom flats to four bedroom houses. The completion date is set for June 2023, although this will be looked at as the programme develops.
“For me the progress has gone well,” Hjaltland Housing Association technical officer Jason Montgomery said.
“Although there’s been delays in delivery of materials, and there was the road widening and retaining wall before we even got on site to do work, they’ve come on massively since then.”
The project was not too popular with residents of Upper Scalloway during the planning process, with the impact on traffic in the area one concern. But the developer says it will provide much-needed housing.
Around 20,000 tonnes of rock was taken from the site in preparatory work, with breaking part of the process, and it will be re-used.
With the project getting on site earlier this year, there have been two rather major things simmering in the background – the Covid pandemic and Brexit.
Montgomery believes both have had a “massive impact” – not just for the Scalloway project but across the construction industry.
“Sourcing materials with the first lockdowns – there was a huge wait,” he said.
“And I suppose with Brexit there was the increase in material cost that has steadily gone up. It’s not capped off and still seems to be rising.”
Scalloway is one of Hjaltland’s highest demand area, but Montgomery said the biggest problem is getting the projects on site.
“This particular development took a number of years before it got the go-ahead,” he said.
Hjaltland has some other housing projects on the go – such as a batch of new homes at Heathery Park in Gulberwick – but minds are drawn towards the hundreds of homes which will be built at Staney Hill in Lerwick in phases.
The team reckons contractors could get on site for the huge development in the middle of next year, with an infrastructure tender due back in January.
The hope is that it will go some way to alleviating the large waiting list for social housing in the isles.
“Once we start with Staney Hill that’s going to take up a lot of our development side of things for the next 10 to 15 years,” Montgomery said.
But he warned about the need for capacity of contractors to take on that size of project.
“That’s another thing that’s impacting on this site, is the shortage of labour,” Montgomery added.
“They’re advertising for labour but getting very little people coming looking for jobs. That’s over a lot of the sites. I don’t know whether that’s a lack of youth coming through and going into the sector.”
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