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Community / Parking and housing a focus for lanes architects as options presented for feedback

Photo: SIC

THREE options which juggle housing, parking and green space have been developed as possible ideas for the future development of the Lerwick Lanes area.

It comes after a survey which attracted more than 400 responses from the public.

All three options which are being presented by architect firm 7N in a series of public events today (Monday) retain most of the spaces at the old swimming pool car park.

The architects said the options “balance the three primary uses that this site can provide for the town and local community – accessible parking, town centre living and publicly accessible seating/gathering space”.

Priorities which have emerged from the first round of consultation include a “bustling” Commercial Street, parking, housing provision, a better pedestrian environment and sympathy with the lanes character.

No decisions have been made at this stage, with the public asked to provide their feedback on the options.

A primary concern from the community which was evident from the survey is around the idea of potentially losing parking space.

Craig Nicolson from SIC housing (left) and 7N Architect Harry Kirkham. Photo: Shetland News

There are 144 spaces in the area at the moment, but the three proposed options retain 132, 128 and 126 spaces each.

A key factor in the thinking behind the decision to explore options for the lanes areas is the SIC’s current temporary accommodation along Pitt Lane, which is ageing.

Option one would see new housing created where the temporary accommodation is located.

The site of the current Park Lane community garden would make way for housing, with green space instead being introduced at the very top of the site next to Quendale Lane.

Parking would be rejigged slightly to make it more accessible and to create the opportunity to intersperse more green space and electric vehicle charging points.

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Option two includes building some new homes where the temporary accommodation lies, as well as a small number of houses at the top of the site, next to Quendale Lane.

Some of the community garden space would be maintained.

Option three would see the new homes at the top too, but new housing plots spread throughout the site, with the community garden retained in the current location.

The information presented by 7N, who have been commissioned by Shetland Islands Council to create a masterplan for the lanes area, said the existing parking had been created in an “ad-hoc” manner and does not work well in certain places.

Some of the SIC accommodation in the lanes area. Photo: Shetland News

7N architect Harry Kirkham it was clear from the survey that parking was a “very important resource” within Lerwick.

“We’re trying to balance out the housing and the community garden, which does mean that there needs to be some rebalancing across the site, but retaining as much of the parking as possible and looking at how its setting can be improved,” he said.

Craig Nicolson from the SIC’s housing department added that the masterplan process gives a chance to improve the parking area.

Kirkham added that feedback from today’s events will be used in the creation of the masterplan, which should be submitted to the council at the end of March.

He said parking, housing and green space/the community garden were the key things which came out of the initial survey.

Kirkham added that housing could constitute many things from social housing to private properties, while business could be included too.

Nicolson said the council will ultimately end up with an options appraisal which will then go up for decision.

The council would decide whether it wants to take options forward “into a project, or projects, or no project”.

“It ranges from do nothing to the other end of the scale,” Nicolson said.

“If it’s decided to move into the next stage there will be more consultation on whatever option is taken forward.”

He reiterated that it is not a “done deal” for the project, which remains an evolving process.

At the day’s first event in the Islesburgh Community Centre there were a few people already in shortly after it started at midday.

One of those was Damien Ristori, who has been involved with Lerwick Community Council in recent years.

He suggested the idea of developing the site had been talked about many years ago, and said he welcomed the idea of creating housing at the very top of the site.

People can drop by the radio room at Islesburgh Community Centre in Lerwick until 4pm, before a further event at Lerwick Town Hall’s main room between 5pm and 7pm.

At 7pm the architects will give a presentation at a meeting of Lerwick Community Council at the town hall, which is open to the public.

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