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Scottish councils could take over empty buildings under new proposals

Words: Laura Edgar
Derelict building / Shutterstock_94476877

The Scottish Land Commission has announced it is working on proposals for a new Compulsory Sale Order (CSO) power.

Work began earlier this week (16 April) to explore the opportunities and challenges such a power could present.

CSOs would give local authorities the legal right to require abandoned buildings or small plots of land that have been derelict for long periods of time to be sold by public auction to the highest bidder.

A statement from the Scottish Land Commission notes that in 2016 there were 12,435 hectares of derelict and urban vacant land in the country. The commission plans to make more of the country’s land, including looking at a range of ways to address the issue of vacant and derelict land, bringing them back into productive use.

Hamish Trench, chief executive of the Scottish Land Commission, said: “If we want Scotland’s land to become more productive, efficient and equitable we must consider tools and mechanisms such as CSOs to address the problem of vacant and derelict land. It is envisaged that CSOs would be used to tackle abandoned buildings and small plots of vacant and derelict land in town centres and communities.

“We are working with the Scottish Government to develop proposals for a new CSO power that can then be used as the basis for consultation.

“The proposals will provide a clear description of the purpose of powers, how they might operate, the conditions under which they could be triggered and fully comply with the European Convention of Human Rights.”

RTPI Scotland policy and practice office Kate Houghton told The Planner: “RTPI Scotland looks forward to seeing the outcomes from the Scottish Land Commission’s research into Compulsory Sale Orders. As we debate a Planning Bill that looks to improve the rate of delivery of high quality development, it is impossible not to consider the context in which planning aims to deliver. In particular, how a number of issues apart from planning impact on the availability of land for development. If designed well Compulsory Sale Orders could play a role in helping local authorities to deliver on their local development plans.”

Image credit | Shutterstock