Scottish Government overturns another island council planning decision 

A proposed single-story house in Lerwick has now been given the go-ahead after intervention.

Scottish Government overturns another Shetland council planning decision in Lerwick iStock

Another planning decision by Shetland councillors has been overturned by the Scottish Government – with a proposed single-storey house in Lerwick now given the go-ahead.

A planning reporter for the government said the proposed development at Clairmont Place “accords overall with the […] development plan and would not have an adverse effect on the character or appearance” of the Lerwick Lanes conservation area.

The application for a small, single-storey timber-clad two-bedroom house on land behind the church at Clairmont Place was refused by members of Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee in April, who felt concerns over parking and traffic in the area had not been fully addressed.

There was also concern raised over the health and safety of residents during construction.

The decision was appealed, with the applicant’s agent Née Gibson Architects saying it felt the decision of the council’s planning committee was “unjustified” when taking into account planning policy.

The government planning reporter said that given the enclosed nature of the garden site in which the building would be located, “the proposal would not be a visible or prominent feature of the streetscape or any public space”.

They also said that “due to the location of the site within the Lerwick Lanes Conservation Area, the proximity of available parking to the site is not a primary consideration”.

Planning in principle for a house on the site had already been granted.

But people who live in the area expressed concern to planners over the extra demand it could bring to parking in the area, such as Ronald Street and Rechabite Place.

Lerwick Community Council had also objected on similar grounds, which meant the full application for the house went in front of the planning committee for determination.

The planning service itself advised approval with conditions, with councillors deciding to go against the recommendation.

In its appeal statement, the applicant’s agent noted that the local authority and planning department “deems that parking is not a primary consideration based on that there should be sufficient parking in the general area”.

They also said that previous applications for building conversions and extensions in the last ten years within the Lerwick Lanes Conservation Area have been approved.

But in responding to the appeal Shetland Islands Council highlighted that councillors on the planning committee are entitled to take a decision against the recommendation of officers.

It also raised how the planning in principle consent came with a condition that the building would only be used for “ancillary living space” by the applicant, who stays next door.

The council said that the full proposal differed from the planning in principle because the applicant sought flexibility in the future to potentially sell or use the building as holiday accommodation if circumstances changed.

It comes after another appeal against committee refusal – for changing the use of the science block at the old Anderson High School – was lodged earlier this year.

The conclusion of that appeal was that change of use planning consent was never needed for the building.

In addition to the science block development, an application for a house near the Clickimin Broch was taken to the government last year.

Whilst the committee was happy to approve with conditions imposed, the matter was referred to the government because of an objection from Historic Environment Scotland.

The application was ultimately refused after the planning reporter shared the concerns over the proximity of the house to the broch.

Last year a refusal of planning consent to change the location of two Viking Energy concrete batching plants was overturned.

In early 2020 the government also overturned a refusal to extend the temporary permission of the Sella Ness accommodation block.

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