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Public sector urged to lead the way in land reuse

Land Reuse Month throws spotlight on redeveloping vacant sites

A month-long campaign will drive forward the message that the public sector has a key role to play in transforming vacant and derelict land across Scotland.

Land Reuse Month, hosted by the Scottish Land Commission, will support local authorities in addressing the ‘how to’ of tackling the legacy of derelict land and preventing further sites and buildings from falling into long-term disrepair.

Scotland has almost 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict urban land – an area roughly twice the size of the city of Dundee – and almost one-third of its 5.4 million population lives within 500 metres of a derelict site. These disused sites can cause significant harm to communities, ranging from negative impacts on mental and physical health to anti-social behaviour and safety concerns. The public sector can lead the way in identifying the potential of these sites to be transformed into assets that provide real benefit to local communities, including much-needed greenspace for health and wellbeing, growing spaces, community facilities, and housing and business use.

Local authority and other public sector employees are invited to take part in four online seminars attended by Scottish Government Ministers, civil servants, environmental groups, community ownership specialists, land and planning experts, housing advisors and academics.

The sessions will be held virtually on the first four Thursdays in March and will encourage delegates to understand the opportunities in transforming derelict land, to collaborate with communities and other cross-sector organisations involved, develop relevant strategies, and how to help stem the flow of abandoned and derelict land.

The first session on Thurs 3 March will be hosted by Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, with an address by Minister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan, while Tom Arthur, the Minister for Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, will open and chair the fourth seminar focusing on the role of land in delivering national and local ambitions – including community wealth building – on 24 March.

Minister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan said:

“Land Reuse Month will provide valuable support to local authorities to unlock the potential in areas of unused land, and I greatly encourage all those with an interest to sign up to the online seminars.

“The Scottish Government is determined to transform vacant and derelict land across the country to create new green infrastructure and provide environmental, social and economic opportunities for local communities.”

“Through our £50 million low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme, launched last year, we are already breathing new life into some of Scotland’s most long standing derelict sites.

“The programme is now underway and will help the delivery of regeneration and inclusive growth, and the promotion of wellbeing and community resilience.”

The campaign builds on the recommendations of the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce, jointly created by the Scottish Land Commission and SEPA, to transform Scotland’s approach to vacant and derelict land.

Andrew Thin said: “We don’t underestimate the scale of the task in bringing back into use the countless derelict sites which are a remnant of our industrial past, but they have the potential to be a huge national asset.

“By bringing together prominent stakeholders including local authorities, decision-makers, policy influencers, land and planning experts, and other enthusiastic parties during Land Reuse Month, we can drive real change to the way we approach land using it as an asset that can contribute to community wellbeing and net zero carbon objectives.

“We want participants to be inspired and to better understand the ingredients needed for successful land reuse. We are delighted at the calibre of speakers attending highlighting the importance of innovation and collaboration in tackling Scotland’s legacy of unloved spaces.”

The seminars will examine proactive estate management, managing fragmented land ownership, the role of land in community wealth building, leveraging finance and investment, explore best practice and inspiring examples from local authorities across Scotland, and raise awareness of the Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme.

The Economic Development Association Scotland (EDAS) will be partnering with the Commission to host week three, with the theme of ‘Activate your estate’ on Thurs 17 March.

Other Land Reuse Month participants include the Scottish Futures Trust, Green Action Trust, Development Trusts Association Scotland, and a wide selection of local authorities and NHS Trusts from across Scotland.

To register for any of the Land Reuse Month events please visit: https://www.landcommission.gov.scot/events

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