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Compulsory sales could address vacant land issue in Scotland

Words: Laura Edgar
Vacant land / Shutterstock_18986386

A report by the Scottish Land Commission has concluded that a new Compulsory Sales Order (CSO) could address the number of abandoned buildings as well as the amount of vacant and derelict land in town centres across Scotland.

According to Scottish Government data, published in 2017, there is an estimated 11,600 hectares of vacant and or derelict land in Scotland. This was a decrease from the 12,493 hectares recorded in 2016.

The government cited the reason for the reduction as the land being brought back into use.

The commission though, believes vacant and derelict land and buildings in Scotland is an “entrenched problem”, with the headline figures not changing substantially since the late 1990s. This is on top of the Shelter Scotland saying there is more then 37,000 long-term empty homes, the commission noted.

Vacant land and abandoned buildings “often act as magnets for crime and anti-social behaviour,” Professor David Adams said, one of five commissioners at the Scotland Land Commission. It “damages quality of life for existing residents and can act as a deterrent for inward investment”.

For the commission, a CSO would give local authorities a “straightforward” mechanism to bring empty sites and buildings back into use following a period of not being used. It announced in April that it was working on the impact of a CSO and the challenges it could present.

Adams said: “CSOs could be part of a tool kit to bring unused land – especially small parcels of land that have lain unused and unloved, in our city and town centres – back in to productive use.

“We envisage it being used as a power of last resort; councils and land owners should be working together to try and find solutions first.”

Read Compulsory Sales Orders: A Proposal from the Scottish Land Commission here on the Scottish Land Commission website (pdf).

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