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Scotland must ‘unlock’ vacant and derelict land, taskforce says

Sectors across Scotland should act to bring derelict land back into productive use and prevent future sites from being abandoned, a new taskforce has said.

The Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce said in a new statement of intent that Scotland should co-ordinate its priorities for action on unused land, making use of its data on these sites to better promote opportunities to re-use them.

The task force, set up last year by the Scottish Land Commission and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said Scotland should also change its regulatory, policy and finance systems to make the most out of vacant land, and embed a ‘socially responsible’ corporate culture to prevent future sites from being abandoned.

Steve Dunlop, chairman of the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce, said: ‘The Taskforce was created to tackle the persistent challenge of derelict land in Scotland and by focusing on these four key actions we can work together to unlock this opportunity.

‘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 the land re-use, through community-led regeneration.’

The taskforce’s proposals come following the publication of a new Land Commission report, which outlines the challenges Scotland faces in bringing its various types of vacant and derelict land back into use.

While some local authorities and public authorities have managed to bring vacant land back into public use, the report highlights a persistent problem of ‘stuck sites’ – old, large, often urban derelict sites which have gone unused for decades.

Using these sites productively again could help reduce social inequality, address climate change and improve health across the country, the report found.

Examples of how vacant and derelict sites could be used include building new homes or community allotments, creating new parks and green space, or attracting new investment to help ailing local economies, it said.

Hamish Trench, chief executive of the Scottish Land Commission, said: ‘Scotland has a legacy of “stuck sites” with a majority in either current or former public sector ownership. We need to work together to put procedures in place to ensure that this legacy doesn’t continue.

‘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.’

The Scottish government welcomed the publication of the report, as it admitted that too much land in Scotland is currently unused.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham commented: ‘The Scottish government recognises the huge opportunity that [vacant and derelict land] represents, and it’s our priority to ensure that as much of that land as possible is unlocked – acting as a catalyst for community and environmental regeneration.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

Chris Ogden
Digital News Reporter

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