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Taskforce wants to see more new homes built on derelict land in Scotland

All sectors in Scotland are being urged to help bring land back into productive use and prevent future sites from being abandoned, with many able to support new home building.

The Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce, set up last year by the Scottish Land Commission and SEPA, has published a report on the action it believes is needed to make this happen.

Meanwhile, the Commission has also published a report 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 examples it describes as inspiring that 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. It says that 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.

It suggests that many of these sited could be used to build new homes to limit urban sprawl and reduce commuting, provide new allotments and city farms for fresh grown local food, create new parks and green spaces and attract new investment.

‘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,’ said Taskforce chairman, Steve Dunlop.

‘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,’ he added.

According to Hamish Trench, Scottish Land Commission chief executive, 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,’ he pointed out.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, said that 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,’ she explained.