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Housing / Report on heating options for Sandveien estate to be drawn up after council motion

An artist’s impression of the eight rebuilt homes at Sandveien. Image: PJP Architects

A LERWICK councillor has succeeded in calling for further investigation into heating system options for a refurbishment of homes in Sandveien.

Dennis Leask’s motion comes amid suggestion that the town’s district heating scheme – which sees hot water made from burning waste – could be extended to the housing estate.

However warnings were made in the council chamber about the size of the job of potentially turning the all-electric estate into wet heating.

Earlier this month Shetland Islands Council announced a £2.5 million contract to rebuild eight Sandveien houses had been awarded to local firm DITT.

Leask’s motion, presented to a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, instructed the SIC’s development department present a report on heating options at the “earliest opportunity”.

Dennis Leask. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

The report should include a technical appraisal, details on what funding may be available and tenant consultation.

The motion said the report should also seek that the council make a decision on the options.

Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, a frustrated Leask – who chairs the council’s development committee – said he would have preferred to deal with the topic internally but felt he had no choice but lodge a motion after failing to get answers.

He said he became aware last year that replacement storage heaters would be used in refurbished homes, but questioned if this was the best way forward.

His motion was countered by Lerwick North and Bressay member Gary Robinson, who said there were likely to be “good reasons” why district heating had been discounted.

Robinson added that he did not feel changing the heating systems in Sandveien would make economic sense, and warned against “micromanaging” things and putting extra workload on council staff.

“Where do we go next? Do members want to decide on the taps, or the wallpaper?” he added.

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But in a vote Leask’s motion won the day, 12 votes to six.

It came after Leask suggested he was not convinced that the decision taken so far by officers on the preferred heating system was done competently. Convener Andrea Manson said it was “not appropriate” to make that remark in the chamber.

Robinson also expressed concern that the Lerwick South councillor appeared to be advocating for a company – SHEAP, which runs the district heating scheme and is owned by Shetland Charitable Trust. Leask then apologised.

Work on the £2.5 million refurbishment project is due to begin in April and it is expected to take 14 months, with the houses replaced with modern, energy efficient homes.

In addition to the new build properties, around 160 council properties in Sandveien will also see major upgrades over the next 12 to 18 months, with replacement kitchens and bathrooms fitted, and new heating systems installed.

The estimated cost will be in the region of £1.8 million and contracts are expected to be awarded soon for this work to begin in the spring of this year.

Residents of the Sandveien estate, which is now decades old, previously held public meetings about the standards of the properties in the area.

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