National focus needed to realise the opportunities of transforming derelict land, Taskforce says
The Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce is challenging all sectors in Scotland to help bring land back into productive use and prevent future sites from being abandoned.
Set up last year by the Scottish Land Commission and SEPA, the taskforce has today published a Statement of Intent with actions required to make this happen, at a national level. These are:
- Coordinate priorities for action and align finance and support
- Use the rich data Scotland has about vacant and derelict sites to promote opportunities for re-use of land
- Learn through demonstration what changes are needed in regulatory, policy and finance systems
- Embed a socially responsible corporate culture to prevent future sites being abandoned
The proposals are informed by a new report published by the Commission 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 highlights some recent – inspiring – examples and shows how local authorities and other public agencies have helped drive these projects forward. The report also seeks to understand 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 Task Force most wants to tackle. 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
- Generate renewable energy, potentially helping to tackle fuel poverty in poorer communities
The report also highlights the risks of further sites being abandoned. A key aim of the Taskforce going forward will be to embed a responsible approach to land reuse in corporate culture, to prevent sites being abandoned and left in future.
Taskforce chairman, Steve Dunlop 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.”
Hamish Trench, Scottish Land Commission chief executive, 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 Statement of Intent sets out the actions that both Government and other partners can take as a co-ordinated national effort.”
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said:
“Too much land in Scotland is currently unused. The Scottish Government recognises the huge opportunity that 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.
“The Taskforce was created to help realise that ambition and I welcome their report, which sets out in clear detail what must be done in order to make long term, sustainable change.”
Part of the Land Commission’s ongoing work is to establish ways to measure the additional public value that re-use of derelict land can deliver, beyond simple monetary gain, along with the adverse effects that continued derelict sites have on communities – often those in greatest need. The Commission is also developing a thematic approach to land re-use which can be used as a springboard for projects, whether it is a large site needing a multi-agency approach or a smaller site that could provide a boost to local community aspirations.