Task force to develop derelict land in Scotland launched
A task force to develop some of Scotland's 12,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land is being launched.
A register of disused property was set up 30 years ago but the total area - around twice the size of Dundee - has barely changed since.
The project aims to find ways of bringing derelict land back into productive use.
The target of the task force is to halve the amount of land on the register by 2025.
The group - set up by the Scottish Land Commission and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) - will examine the impact on vacant land of planning policy and legislation.
It will also look at practical ways for the land to be utilised.
'Inspiring local pride'
Steve Dunlop, chairman of the new task force, said: "In disadvantaged areas of Scotland it is estimated that three in every five people live within 500m of a vacant or derelict site.
"The task force will help drive practical action and look for innovative ways to make productive use of vacant and derelict land for housing, commercial and green space uses.
"Rejuvenating vacant and derelict land brings about long-term regeneration and renewal - unlocking growth, reviving communities, increasing community empowerment, reducing inequalities and inspiring local pride and activities."
The task force aims to "challenge and reshape" the approach to bringing vacant land back into use.
The 3.7 hectare former textiles works at Broadford in Aberdeen is one of the areas which has stood derelict for more than a decade.
After several incidents of fire-raising, Prince Charles lent his voice to calls for it to be regenerated several years ago.
Although the total amount of derelict land has remained broadly unchanged, significant parcels of land have been brought back into use.
'Catalyst for change'
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "Scotland has far too much unused, unproductive land.
"The unlocking of vacant and derelict land touches on a number of important strands of work, including planning and regeneration.
"It is also another key strand of our ambitious land reform agenda, which includes a recent commitment to continue our £10m annual funding of the Scottish Land Fund, the creation of a register of controlling interests in land, and we're exploring the expansion of existing Community Right to Buy mechanisms."
Hamish Trench, chief executive of the Scottish Land Commission, said: "The partnership with Sepa and the creation of the task force is a catalyst for change from across the sectors in our approach to vacant and derelict land.
"We want to identify what can be done with policy, legislation and action to release this land to benefit the communities living in and around it, making more of Scotland's land do more for Scotland's people.
"As part of that we, along with the task force, are looking at tools and mechanisms to address the problem of vacant and derelict land with scope for far more innovation in finding ways to bring the land back into productive use.
"There are already some inspiring - recent - examples of what can be achieved in our cities and we want to encourage more of these approaches."