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23/08/2019

Report spells out how derelict and vacant land in Scotland can be reused

Words: Roger Milne
Derelict sites / Shutterstock_1144608647

The country’s Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce has set out its stall on how it plans to help bring land back into productive use and prevent future sites from being abandoned.

The taskforce, established by the Scottish Land Commission and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), has also published a report that sets out for the first time, an analysis of the different types of sites on the vacant and derelict land register and the challenges of bringing them back into use.

The report notes that the annual vacant and derelict land survey currently records 3,548 sites (11,037 hectares), of which derelict land requiring rehabilitation accounts for just over half of the sites, but 80 per cent of the land area.

“There is a concentration of sites in the former industrial areas in the west of Scotland, reflecting potentially not only loss of employment but also de-population. There is a clear correlation between de-industrialisation, legacy sites and deprivation. Some sites can persist on the register over many decades says the report.

Site ownership is split approximately half public and half private, although some private sites are former public sector assets (either sold or privatised, such as utilities). The ownership of 14 per cent of sites is unknown.

The report examines the factors behind a core of persistent, so-called "stuck sites" – usually older, larger and derelict sites – some of which have been on the register for decades. It is these “persistently problematic” sites that the taskforce most wants to tackle.  

The taskforce believes that bringing these unloved urban spaces back into productive use can play a major role in reducing social inequalities, addressing climate change, improving health and delivering inclusive growth.

For example, the sites could be used to:

  • build new homes to limit urban sprawl and reduce commuting;
  • provide new allotments and city farms for fresh food grown locally;
  • create new parks and green spaces, adding to biodiversity and wellbeing;
  • attract new investment, creating jobs and wealth in parts of the country that need it most; and
  • generate renewable energy, potentially helping to tackle fuel poverty in poorer communities.

Taskforce chairman Steve Dunlop said: “We are excited about the opportunity to join community voices and ensure particular policies are at the heart of this. We want to unlock the opportunity for current vacant and derelict sites and stem the flow of new sites being abandoned. Communities must be at the heart of land reuse, through community-led regeneration.”

Hamish Trench, chief executive at the Scottish Land Commission, said: “Transforming vacant and derelict sites opens up opportunities to promote inclusive growth and greater wellbeing, while tackling climate change. What’s clear is that this needs a national co-ordination to create the focus and changes needed.”

Image credit | Shutterstock

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