These are all in various stages from gathering community ideas to securing funding to newly completed.

Bressay Community Woodland

We have begun a project which will recreate Shetland's once common scrub woodland. We will be planting a total of 3000 trees, all historically native to Shetland. BDL has been working with members of the community, RSPB, Shetland Amenity Trust's Woodland Team and the landowner since July 2020 to develop the plan.

This project aims to: -

  • Provide a unique opportunity to recreate Shetlands once widespread scrub habitat, allowing long-term diversity change free from sheep and rabbits.
  • Provide a new kind of year round recreation space for the community along with social, volunteering and educational opportunities.
  • Be planted only with species listed in prof. David Spence's book 'Shetland's Living Landscape, A Study Of Island Plant Ecology'.
  • Provide outdoor education and play space for bairns and nurture an interest in nature and the local environment which has been more evident during lockdown.

Project proposal - site map

We are delighted to announce that we have secured funding for this project from SUEZ Community Landfill Fund and the Woodland Trust. Work onsite began in late 2021 and the first 1000 trees were planted in March 2022.

September 2022 update. We've just had a succesful maintainance day; all the tree guards are secure in preperation for winter. We are really pleased to report that all but 4 of the trees planted this spring are growing and looking very healthy. Our site now boasts an accessable walkway to a lochside seating area, a re-built drystone crub, wooden bridges crossing the burn, an information panel as well as around 1000 trees. We were delighted to receive a tree from Volunary Action Shetland, back in June, in recognition of the work our volunteers do. We are also very pleased that our woodland has been shortlisted for two catagories in this year's RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards - the Community Initiative Award and the Forrest and Woodland Award.

Spring 2023 update. We are delidhted to receive our RSPB Nature of Scotland Award! Last year, the Bressay Community Woodland Project won the Forest and Woodland category at these prestigious awards, in recognition for supporting wildlife and bringing the community together. During March we held two planting days which enabled us to plant another 1000 trees, this time mostly towards the south end of the site. A mix of birch, willow, hazel and aspen were planted, with funding from the Woodland Trust and Shetland Amenity Trust Woodland Team providing the trees. A few honeysuckle cuttings were planted around the crub too!

July 2023 update. Our group made a site visit in July and were delighted the growth of the 2022 and 2023 trees. Around 90% of last years trees have survived their 1st year and are growing well - this is great considering the peaty site. Group members have been taking regular photos of plants, fungi and birds spotted sice the project began, these are regularlyshared on our facebook page - there are a few photos below too!

Community Led Housing

Through feedback gathered as part of community development plan consultation during 2023, residents expressed their concerns about not enough housing available on Bressay, particularly for young people. This is something that BDL is keen to further investigate.

Community-led housing is a growing movement in rural and island communities to tackle declining population. We’re aware of several community development groups in Shetland currently investigating housing, and across Scotland there are many examples of inspiring projects where local people have addressed their specific housing problems. As well as creating long-term, affordable homes, community-led housing aims to build strong, resilient communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing alone.

There are a range of approaches, including community groups, development trusts, landowners, cooperatives, co-housing, and partnership working. Housing stock could take many forms - not just new-build - for example self-build, regeneration or the use of existing buildings. A community-led approach looks more holistically at what is needed, diversifying house building types and tenure options. This aims to support people across all ages and circumstances, as well as strengthen the local economy, wellbeing, and community bond, and consider the environment. Community-led projects also importantly bring the public into the development process, with ongoing community engagement.

But it’s a long process. A crucial step would be commissioning an in-depth Housing Needs and Demand Assessment specifically for Bressay - a comprehensive survey of the housing needs of the community, businesses and of those who wish to relocate. If clear needs are proven, we can then move on to later stages, including project development and funding.

We’d really like to try and get a group together who can share knowledge and experiences about the current situation, to start establishing clear aspirations and requirements for a housing project. This will help us make the case for Bressay housing development, allowing us to seek support from key stakeholders and partners to undertake a Housing Needs and Demand Assessment for our island.

If you have a few spare hours a month and this interests you - whether you have any knowledge or skills in this area or are just keen to help the Bressay population thrive, we’d love to hear from you.

To see just some of what what can be achieved with community-led housing, please have a look at the case studies of these organisations:

Growing, Gardening and increasing access to local food.

BDL is in the early stages of investigating ways to make Bressay more resilient by increasing and supporting local food production. We want to help support members of the community to become more confident gardeners and to help ensure everyone has access to good outdoor spaces.

In early 2021 BDL sent a questionnaire to households at the Glebe, Fullaburn and Hamilton Park, and to our members, to help us understand the communities needs and wishes in relation to sustainable food production, availability of growing space, communal recreation. We highlighted specifically the SIC owned sites at Fullaburn and Hamilton Park because the SIC has a new policy to offer unused council land for food production. We have had a number of responses covering a wide range of topics. Replies so far suggest that folk would like easier access to local grown produce and that the square below Hamilton Park and the garden by the Galley Shed (in need of re-invigorating) are valued assets.

There's lots for folk to comment on: - sustainable food, increasing access to local produce, increasing access to outdoor recreation space, encouraging sustainable gardening, supporting local producers.... We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Link to Growing questionnaire and map

Check out Bressay Community Market | Facebook for producer info and Market dates.

Speldiburn Re-Design

In September 2021, BDL appointed Malcolmson Architects to provide two new plans for an improved Speldiburn.

BDL have developed Speldiburn as far as possible without any major changes but the building, designed as a school, lacks a welcoming entrance, has a layout which is confusing for visitors and contains a lot of wasted space/awkward corridors which we feel could be better used. This new project will allow us to increase studio/business start-up opportunities, ensure space is efficient and welcoming and provide a better, more spacious layout for the cafe and our multi use rooms. Malcolmson Architects have taken time to meet with our staff, tenants and main user groups to ensure that the new plans take into account their needs and future aims, alongside those of BDL.

The new plan includes: -

  • New build multi use/nursey room on the site of the external toilet block
  • Studio and business start up spaces relocated together in the wooden extension
  • External access shower, disabled toilet, washing machine and dryer
  • New build entrance area opening into communal/exhibition space which replaces current office and studio
  • Enhanced outside space, bike shelter and accessible parking
  • Relocated kitchen to provide a brighter and more attractive and convenient cafe

Timescale - Plans and costings will be complete in spring 2022. Funding will be sought in 2022 for the building stage of the project.

Initial floor plan and photos below. Feedback is welcome so please get in touch with any comments or questions.

Bressay Broadband Survey

Bressay will not be receiving fibre broadband as part of the R100 rollout, a Scottish Government project to ensure all Scottish households can access at least 30mbps. In response BDL welcomed survey responses from Bressay households to help us map Bressay's broadband coverage, and to help find a route to improved service for our households and businesses. As expected, landline broadband speeds vary considerably. Download speeds can reach up to 65 mbps at Speldiburn but only single digits in remoter areas.

Mobile 4G is an option for most Bressay households - though the ideal provider isn't the same for all locations. BDL took out a three month contract for an O2 router in early 2022 and offered it to Bressay Households to allow them a free trial of 4G broadband which we think some folk found quite helpful. Shetland Telecom plan to undertake a more extensive survey during 2022 which will give a better indication of 4G reception throughout Bressay.

Please find a link to the survey here

Speldiburn Green energy and heating project

This project, completed in April 2021, has already produced amazing results. Speldiburn is so much warmer, the heating is easy to control and we've seen 60% reduction in our energy bills and CO2 emissions.

The improvements included: -

  • Removal of all storage heaters, which have been replaced by air source heat units
  • The addition of extra loft insulation into the old part of the building (the only part with loft space)
  • 40 solar panels added to the roof of the wooden extension

You can see how much energy the solar panels are generating for us in real time by following this link - it's fascinating to watch all the free, green energy coming in, produced by the sun! Since installation of the panels and the heat pumps, we are seeing a reduction in our energy consumption of upwards of 50 per cent per month.

Link to ASHP and solar panel location plan

Funding was provided by Scottish Government funding through HIE and CARES.

Nordri installing the solar panels
Nordri installing the solar panels

Community Asset Transfer of the Former Bressay school and surrounding site to BDL

This project is complete. BDL has spent several years gathering community feedback, securing funding, discussing proposals with Shetland Islands Council, undertaking building surveys and putting together a business plan.

  • In November 2020 the Shetland Islands Council agreed the Asset Transfer of Bressay school to BDL.
  • BDL agreed purchase of the school in March 2021
  • BDL became the registered owner of on the 5th November 2021

Funding and advice for this project has been provided to BDL by HIE and the Scottish Land Fund.

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