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Council / SIC could look to dispose of Bruce Hostel

However the final decision on the future of the listed building lies with councillors

An archive image of the Bruce Hostel, taken in 2016. Photo: Shetland News

COUNCIL officers are advising that the best option for the Bruce Hostel at the former Anderson High School site is disposal.

The B-listed building is one of four properties which will be kept at the Lerwick site while the rest is demolished ahead of redevelopment.

But a spokesperson for Shetland Islands Council said no decision on the Bruce Hostel has been made yet.

The final decision would lay with elected members.

Demolition of most of the properties at the site is nearly complete, with a total of 145 housing units planned in their place.

The four buildings which are remaining at the site are the Anderson Educational Institute, the former science block and the Janet Courtney and Bruce hostels.

The B-listed educational institute is set to become a creative hub, subject to a pilot project.

The science block has been given to the New Life Shetland church through a community asset transfer.

The latest proposal for the Janet Courtney hostel is for around 19 flats.

But at this stage the suggestion is that the council could get rid of the Bruce Hostel.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said although dated 1919, construction work on the Bruce Hostel had already begun in 1914 and was not completed until 1923.

It was later followed by the B-listed Janet Courtney hostel, which dates to 1939.

HES says the building is a “striking feature” on the skyline, particularly when arriving by sea, and an “important part of the history of education in Shetland”.

The building was gifted to Shetland, by Robert Bruce of Sumburgh, and it provided residential accommodation to school pupils before changing use in its latter years, such as becoming a family centre.

An architect’s report on the site’s listed buildings from 2017 said the property was in the worst condition of the listed buildings there.

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Back then it said it could cost around £1 million to bring it up to a condition where the masonry “is sound and the roof and glazing are free from defects”.

Councillors were given an update on the Knab redevelopment project in two private meetings last week.

A spokesperson for the SIC said: “The council has not made any decision on the future of the Bruce Hostel.

“The advice from officers to members in reports to policy and resources and SIC [last week] is that disposal would be the best option, but any decision to do so would need to come back to members in a later report.”

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