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Council / Church never needed planning permission to move into former science block, government rules

Reporter finds fault with advice from planners

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

THE NEW Life Shetland (NLC) church could be free to start using the former science block at the Knab after the Scottish Government ruled that there was no planning appeal to determine.

Scottish Government planning reporter Chris Norman found that the church never needed to lodge a planning application for the change of use of the building.

Change of use planning permission was denied by councillors at the tail end of last year.

It emerged that NLC had been of the view that no planning permission was needed after the property was subject to a successful community assert transfer to the church, but planners advised that in their view permission was required.

Just before Christmas last year the council’s planning committee refused change of use permission because of “insufficient detail on the traffic management plan and parking arrangement”.

Pastor John Rollo appealed the decision and has now been successful.

In his finding Norman said that the building would continue to be used as a “non-residential institution” (class 10 of uses).

He said also stated that planning permission would have been required had he found the building to be “abandoned” as the council had claimed it to be.

Norman said it was not disputed that since 2017 the school buildings at the Knab have been unoccupied.

However, because the former science block was in a good physical condition and was not earmarked for demolition like other buildings on the site, Norman concluded that it was clear that the council has “intended to retain the building” and therefore it was not abandoned.

Norman concluded: “Accordingly no planning permission is required and the application for planning permission is not valid. From this it follows that there is no appeal for me to determine.”

Pastor Rollo of New Church Shetland has been contacted for comment.

Chair of the council’s planning committee, Robbie MacGregor, said has has not had a chance to read the reporter’s determination and would comment in the morning.

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