New law could give council power to tackle ‘crime magnet’ derelict sites

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A bid to give councils a new Compulsory Sales Order (CSO) power could end the blight of urban sites that lie derelict for years while attracting criminals and drug abusers.

That’s the key conclusion of a new report by the Scottish Land Commission (SLC), which says the amount of vacant or derelict land in Scotland covers an are almost twice the size of Dundee - and that there’s been little or no progress for around 30 years.

Meanwhile Shelter Scotland claims there are more than 37,000 long term empty homes in the country.

SLC Commissioner Professor David Adams said: “Such sites often act as magnets for crime and anti-social behaviour.

“This damages quality of life for existing residents and can act as a deterrent for inward investment, making it more difficult to bring about long-term regeneration and renewal.”

Communities and local authorities already have a number of policy instruments – including compulsory purchase orders – that can be used to help regeneration.

But the SLC says In many cases, public authorities and communities do not have a specific end use in mind for problem sites and simply wish to see them used for some productive purpose.

Mr Adams said: “CSOs could be part of a tool kit to bring unused land – especially small parcels of land that have lain unused and unloved, in our city and town centres – back in to productive use.

“We envisage it being used as a power of last resort- councils and land owners should be working together to try and find solutions first.”

The Land Commission worked with interested parties across Scotland, including councils, the RICS, Shelter and experts in urban renewal and regeneration to develop the proposed new power.