Construction of family home set to continue after removal of appeal planning requirements

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A LOCAL couple were successful in overturning the conditions attached to their building permit for a family home in Whiteness after their appeal gained the support of councilors.

Lisa and Gavin Emslie took their case to the Shetland Islands Council planning committee on Monday – and the decision means they can move forward with their ‘forever home’.

They had previously obtained planning permission for the four bedroom house north of Hjoglen in Whiteness, overlooking Loch of Strom.

But the Emslies appealed the road safety and visibility conditions precedent imposed by the planning department following the representation of the roads department – claiming they were obstacles to development.

In a moving statement to the committee, Lisa Emslie said the “goals had changed” during the planning process.

The conditions imposed required that an alternative access be created to meet current visibility standards, and the existing single-lane access off the A971 be removed.

With concerns over land ownership of a new crossroads and the cost of creating new access – estimated at around £ 20,000 – applicants felt the conditions were unfair.

The initial hope was that the A971 access to the property would be the existing junction opposite the junction to South Whiteness.

No accidents were reported at the crossroads, we learned at the meeting.

It emerged during the planning process that the council would expand existing access – but that work could be over five years away due to other priority work.

However, the applicants wished to continue using the existing access point in the meantime and to renovate the house.

Lisa Emslie said “safety is of the utmost importance to us” but stressed that “five years is a long time to put our life plans on hold.”

She said the couple want to build a long-term home for their family and want their daughter to grow up in the area.

“It would mean absolutely everything,” Emslie said, while also referring to the “housing crisis” currently affecting young islanders.

The couple also garnered support from Westside members Catherine Hughson and Theo Smith as they prepared their appeal.

The two councilors wrote to the planning department to say that it was “regarding that a condition may be placed on applicants that it is virtually impossible to meet” – and they urged the committee to accept the appeal.

Lerwick adviser Cecil Smith moved that the appeal be approved – saying: “I think as a council we probably need to take a step back and think about how we can help people” .

Councilor Malcolm Bell was among those supporting Smith, saying the question boiled down to whether the terms were reasonable.

He said the committee had set a precedent from previous requests involving new construction and old junctions.

“I think the junction is adequate at the moment,” added Bell.

Shetland Central member Davie Sandison also said he was “quite appalled” by the conditions imposed without all other options being considered.

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