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Transforming Vacant and Derelict Land

The Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce is working to transform the existing approach to bringing vacant and derelict land back into productive use. Scotland has far too much unused, unproductive vacant and derelict land.

Astonishingly, the country currently has around 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land across 3,700 sites. This is roughly the equivalent to twice the size of Dundee or over 9,000 football pitches. A register of disused property was set up 30 years ago and many great projects have re-used land productively, but the total area has barely changed.

Vacant and derelict land, whatever the size, affects our communities and their potential. Over time it can damage an area, resulting in social, economic and environmental harm.

However, these sites also present opportunities for long term regeneration and renewal – unlocking growth, reviving communities and reducing inequalities.

One of the Scottish Land Commission’s long term aims is a substantial reduction in Scotland’s long term vacant and derelict land. We are working with partners to transform the existing approach to bringing vacant and derelict land back into productive use.

Currently, no single public body has overall strategic responsibility for vacant and derelict land. To help address this, our Taskforce, comprised of senior decision-makers from relevant regulatory agencies, private companies and third sector organisations, has been established. The Taskforce will act as a catalyst for addressing long term land vacancy and dereliction across Scotland.

Underpinning the work of the Taskforce is a programme of research and analysis to help better understand the nature of the challenge, identify potential changes to policy and practice and share experience of successful projects. This includes research 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.

Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce - Statement of Intent

The taskforce’s Statement of Intent details the 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

This is no small task. Much of Scotland’s vacant and derelict land has been in that condition for many years – in some cases decades.

We have published a research report on the Impact of Vacant and Derelict Land on Communities, which finds that derelict sites can affect a community’s health, environment, economy and social cohesion.  The report includes a toolkit which can be used by decision makers and communities to properly assess the impacts of vacant and derelict sites on communities.

There is a wide variety of funding options available to communities and local authorities to help bring the land back into use and benefit those living around vacant and derelict sites. We have produced a table that provides a brief description of different funding sources available, highlighting the main limitations of each and indicating what type of activity the funding is most suitable for.

Case Studies

Shettleston Growing Project

Shettleston Growing Project have used reclaimed contaminated land to provide an urban garden for the community