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Housing / Community council chairman suggests looking into demolishing Janet Courtney hostel

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

THE CHAIRMAN of Lerwick Community Council has questioned if it would be more cost effective to try to demolish the Janet Courtney hostel at the former Anderson High School and construct a new build instead of redeveloping it.

The B-listed building is one of the few properties which will remain on the site as part of a Shetland Islands Council-led redevelopment which could see the construction of around 140 new homes.

Currently it is proposed that the Janet Courtney Hostel will be turned into 19 flats.

But speaking at a meeting of Lerwick Community Council earlier this week, chairman Jim Anderson questioned if the building should be kept and suggested a new build could be a better option.

“How much would it cost to raze it to the ground and build something that’s much more suitable for the late 2020s and going on?” he asked.

Lerwick councillor Gary Robinson understood the temptation to demolish, but he noted the fact that the building is listed, which restricts what can be done with it.

The Historic Environment Scotland website says permission to demolish a listed building would not be granted unless it can be shown that there is no viable alternative.

Shetland Islands Council’s strategic investment plan for the next four to five years suggests the project to turn the Janet Courtney into residential accommodation could be put forward for government funding worth £1.8 million.

The hostel – built in 1939 – 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.

Whilst Anderson raised the idea of demolishing it, a Knab redevelopment update report presented to councillors recently said the building was “ideally suited for conversion to flats” given its previous use.

Meanwhile a new website has been launched for the Knab project.

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