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Council / A total of 145 housing units planned for ex-AHS site as SIC releases Knab update

The demolition of the old Anderson High School site almost complete. Photos: SIC

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) has released an update on the progress of the Knab redevelopment project – not long after concern was raised over why the matter was heard in private in the chamber.

An update report was presented to council meetings on Tuesday and Thursday behind closed doors, with Shetland Central member Davie Sandison questioning why it was being held in private – particularly given the importance of the project.

Following those meeting, the SIC has now released an update.

It highlights how a total of 145 housing units are planned for the site of the former Anderson High School. Detailed design work is planned for the first phase of housing, to create up to 32 new properties.

With demolition work on the Lerwick site due to be completed soon, the next phase would be for ground works to put in place necessary infrastructure.

Plans have been drawn up for access roads and utility connections to the retained and new buildings, including electricity cabling, water mains and surface and foul water drainage.

The estimated cost of this ‘infrastructure and public realm’ works is £4.7 million – with the SIC saying it is a “significantly reduced scope” compared what was proposed before.

The first phase includes plans at the north end of the site for 11 plots, with potentially two plots used for flats, to create 13 new-build housing units overall.

As part of the islands growth deal funding, these properties would be constructed to a low energy ‘Passivhaus’ design standard, which will be the benchmark for future housing on the site.

The former Janet Courtney Hostel is also set to undergo conversion work to create up to 19 flats comprising one, two or three-bedrooms.

An update report highlighted how the listed building was originally earmarked for student accommodation. It added: “Due to changes within UHI that are likely to affect their operating model in Shetland, UHI will need to reconsider options for student accommodation.

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“With this in mind, the proposal to utilise the Janet Courtney Hostel for housing provision has been identified.”

The future mix of housing tenure on the site is still to be considered – with options including a mix of social rent, mid-market rent and shared equity with apartment size dependent on demand.

A “multi-discipline design team” will be appointed to progress the project, including architects and engineers, and a specialist consultant in listed building consent, the SIC said.

The project will be supported by up to £9.6 million of Scottish Government funding as part of the islands growth deal.

Documents released by the SIC state that the project is within the “currently allocated budget” – although this is a budget that has already had to be increased in the past.

Councillor Dennis Leask, who chairs the SIC’s development committee said on Thursday: “With the demolition work almost complete, our teams working on this project will continue work on essential infrastructure to enable the first new housing on the site.

“This is a long-term project with many stages ahead, and it’s satisfying to see so much now happening on the ground.”

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