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Housing / Flats plan mooted for Janet Courtney Hostel

UHI Shetland says it is working with the council to maintain an element of student accommodation within the proposal

The Janet Courtney Hostel will not be demolished in the redevelopment. Photo: Shetland News

THE JANET Courtney Hostel at the former Anderson High School could be reworked into flats – with efforts ongoing from UHI Shetland to factor some student accommodation into the proposal.

According to Shetland Islands Council’s (SIC) new strategic housing investment plan (SHIP) for the next four to five years, the listed building could house up to 20 flats as part of the wider Knab redevelopment.

However, the council’s housing manager Anita Jamieson told a meeting of the local authority’s development committee on Wednesday that the proposal was at a very early stage and that more details would come to elected members in due course.

She said at this stage the view is that a mix of one and two bed flats could potentially work within the property, while key workers are also part of the thinking.

The SHIP document, which identifies potential opportunities for government funding for housing, suggested the Janet Courtney project could be put forward for potential funding worth around £1.8 million.

The hostel had provided accommodation for pupils studying at the Anderson High from further afield, before closing in 2017 when pupils moved to the new school near the Clickimin Leisure Complex.

UHI Shetland had previously pinpointed the building as a possible location for student accommodation.

While the SIC’s housing programme says the student accommodation idea is “no longer an option” for UHI Shetland, the college said it is working with the council to “maintain an element of student accommodation” within the plans for flats.

It had previously been said that a general high demand for accommodation in Shetland has resulted in some prospective students deciding against studying in the isles.

Meanwhile UHI Shetland is currently facing a financial deficit of £1.2 million – with jobs and some courses likely to go.

A third party developer previously proposed an 80-room student accommodation complex on Commercial Road a number of years ago, leading to HNP Engineers moving out of the premises.

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Developer Cityheart received planning permission for the project in 2016.

However, those plans never came to fruition, and the site is now used by the council.

Shetland Islands Council said by having up to 20 flats in the Janet Courtney, there is potential to reduce the scope of the first phase of the Knab development.

This would also give opportunity to develop housing on the site at an earlier stage.

The council said it also potentially frees up more space for parking and reduces access points.

The hostel is one of the few buildings will which remain once the old Anderson site is fully demolished.

More than 100 homes are in line to be built in phases across the site.

A full business case, which is also required for islands growth deal funding, is currently being developed for the project.

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