Tag: community

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.

Scottish Land Commission seeks community views

The Scottish Land Commission has launched a new survey seeking views of communities across Scotland about community engagement in decisions relating to land.

The Commission wants to make sure that all people in Scotland have the opportunity to be involved in decisions about land that significantly affect them.  The Commission is supporting communities, land owners and land managers to work together to make better – and fairer – decisions about land use with the publication of its first Protocol on Community Engagement in Decisions Relating to Land.

The Commission’s Protocol supports the Guidance on engaging communities in decisions relating to land, which was published by the Scottish Government in April last year.  Over the next couple of years, the Commission will review the effectiveness of the guidance, and recommend improvements if needed. The survey will establish a baseline against which progress can be measured and identify where further support needs to be developed by the Commission or other organisations.

Individual residents and community organisations in both urban and rural Scotland are being asked to complete the survey. The Commission hopes to:

  • learn more about how the way land or buildings are managed impacts communities
  • know what opportunities people have to influence decisions made when land use changes
  • hear what type of support is needed to make engagement more effective.

Clear and open communication is increasingly a key part of public life, with organisations creating mechanisms for ordinary people to be involved in decisions that affect them. A key area where people want to have their say is about local land use and management.

Helen Barton, Community Engagement Advisor at the Scottish Land Commission said:

“We want to hear from communities in both urban and rural Scotland, to find out what level of community engagement is taking place around decisions related to land.

Individuals can respond but also anyone who is involved with community organisations such a community councils, tenants’ or residents’ groups or local government.

“The information provided will not include any personal identifying information and we will collate and analyse the responses to see where there are trends.

“It is important to get an idea of what community engagement is happening now to not only use as a baseline measure but also to see if there are any lessons we can learn from current practices.”

In the survey, the Commission will also be looking to find out how many respondents are aware of the Scottish Government’s guidance as well as the Commission’s own Protocol for Community Engagement, which sets out general and specific expectations for owners and managers of land.

The survey will be open for responses until the end of September 2019 and can be found here: www.landcommission.gov.scot/communityengagement  

More dates added to Land Commission’s series of events

The Scottish Land Commission has added more dates to its series of Meet & Greet events which are taking place across Scotland over the coming months.

Due to the success of the first Meet & Greet events held in April and May the Commission has announced the addition of three new dates to the series, with meetings to take place in Inverness, Islay and Oban.

Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, said:

“We are really encouraged by the response to the Meet & Greets so far. We have had varied audiences at the public meetings from those interested in community land ownership to tenant farming and with representation from both urban and rural communities.

“The discussions at the meetings have been really insightful and are helping the Commission to form our priorities for our three year strategic plan.

“We are keen to keep the momentum going with the additional meetings in Inverness, Islay and Oban and we hope to have even more over the coming months. This is a rolling programme of events and we would like to engage with as many people as possible.  I would urge everyone to attend a Meet & Greet in their area to find out more about who we are, what we do and importantly; how land reform can directly impact their community.”

The next Meet & Greet event is taking place at Leith Community Centre, Leith, Edinburgh on Thursday 22 June from 7pm and will be followed by:

  • NEW Tuesday 27 June, 7pm — Inverness

Scottish Land Commission, Longman House, 28 Longman Road, Inverness

  • NEW Thursday 13 July, 7pm – Islay

Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle (the Columba Centre Islay), Bowmore

  • Thursday 27 July, 7pm — Biggar

Gillespie Centre, Biggar

  • NEW Thursday 17 August, 7pm – Oban

Corran Halls, Oban

  • Thursday 21 September, 7pm — Clydebank

Clydebank Town Hall, Clydebank

  • Thursday 26 October, 7pm — Dumfries

Georgetown Community Centre, Dumfries

  • Thursday 23 November, 7pm — Perthshire

Comrie Community Centre, Comrie

  • Thursday 22 February 2018, 7pm – Skye

The Fingal Centre, Portree

  • Thursday 22 March 2018, 7pm – Isle of Lewis

Bridge Community Centre, Stornoway

 

The events are free and tea and coffee will be provided. For more information visit www.landcommission.gov.scot, call 0300 244 4452 or email info@landcommission.gov.scot.