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Housing / Could Hayfield House site be a future housing development?

The Hayfield House site in Lerwick. Photo: Jim Mullay

THE LONG-term idea of turning the Hayfield House site in Lerwick into a potential housing development has been floated by council officers.

The site includes the large, B-listed Hayfield House, which is currently used by Shetland Islands Council as its headquarters for children’s services.

But a proposed property asset management strategy for 2023 to 2028 highlights that feasibility work could start on options for alternative accommodation for children’s services – with the site kept for potential housing development.

However, assets, commissioning and procurement manager Robert Sinclair stressed the idea was in its very earliest stage.

The strategy said that Hayfield House – which was built in the 1800s and was previously a hotel – will require “significant investment” to remain fit for purpose, particularly when it comes to energy performance.

“The building has considerable constraints in terms of how it could be adapted in line with future working practices,” the report adds.

“However, the site holds significant development potential and market value, particularly in relation to future potential housing developments.”

Given the number of other housing developments planned in Lerwick Shetland Central councillor Moraig Lyall questioned if any future scheme at Hayfield could take place even in the next 20 years.

Sinclair said in response councillors have made it clear they would like to see the local authority’s property assets being “fit for purpose”.

He added that Hayfield is “very much a consideration for the future” and said there always needs to be forward planning.

The site is already surrounded by housing as well as a playpark, and it also includes newer buildings next to Hayfield House.

The now vacant site at the former Eric Gray Centre has also been earmarked for housing – but in this instance, potentially for ‘homes for life’ given how close support staff at the nearby Edward Thomason and Taing House would be.

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The strategy also suggests that council owned land in the Staney Hill area could be used to address demand for commercial property and land suitable for industrial use.

“Development of this land has so far been inhibited by the ground conditions, however officers are currently exploring innovative ways of overcoming those obstacles,” it adds.

“It is recommended that this work continues as a matter of urgency.

“There are obviously potential benefits to the local economy as a result of this work. Potential benefits to the council include revenue income and acquisition of land with further development potential.”

The meeting also heard there was no firm interest in anyone leasing the vacant Train Shetland building in Lerwick, despite an expectation there may have been “pent up demand” from the renewables sector.

But the large size of the building may have put people off, a meeting of the SIC’s policy and resources committee heard on Monday.

However, there may be an opportunity for the building to be involved in testing the creative hub pilot which is “ultimately planned” for the former Anderson Educational Institute at the Knab.

The council is also considering its options with the museum store at Staney Hill, which the local authority leases.

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Another focus of the strategy is enhanced provision and accessibility in schools.

It also mentions a proposed masterplan for part of the Lerwick Lanes, which has attracted mixed views.

The proposed property asset management strategy for 2023 to 2028 will go in front of the full council next week for final approval.

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