Land Reuse Month 2022

Kathie Pollard, Policy and Practice Lead at the Scottish Land Commission recaps public sector action on vacant and derelict land.

In March, the Scottish Land Commission hosted Land Reuse Month, a month-long campaign to highlight the role of the public sector in bringing vacant and derelict land back into use. Local authority and other public sector employees were invited to take part in four online seminars held virtually on the first four Thursdays in March. Over the course of 12 sessions over four days, we heard from more than thirty speakers about what the public sector is currently doing to tackle the legacy of derelict land. We were keen to know what is being done to help prevent sites from falling into long-term disrepair, and sharing experiences across Scotland is key to building the confidence and skills needed to take on the challenge of vacant and derelict land.

Missed it? You can catch up on all of the sessions on the Scottish Land Commission YouTube channel.

We started the month setting out the national ambitions linked to land reuse with Minister for the Environment and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan MSP, and members of the Commission’s team. Representatives from the Scottish Government ran through the low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme and requirements for applications, while two successful recipients – the City of Edinburgh Council and East Renfrewshire Council – highlighted their approach and lessons from the process. Scottish Futures Trust and the Green Action Trust followed this session by demonstrating the multiple and tangible benefits that public sector-led reuse can deliver.

Community Led Action

Week 2 focused on community participation as integral to ensuring land reuse is place-based. Euan Leitch from SURF – Scotland’s Regeneration Forum, led a panel discussion that included Linda Gillespie, Development Trust Association Scotland, planning consultant Nick Wright, and Rachel Cowper, Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland. Key messages about the value of genuine co-production and importantly how local authorities and communities can work together to bring derelict land back emerged. This was amplified in the next session with reflections from the Development Trust Association Scotland, New Cumnock Development Trust and Glasgow City Council highlighting themes such as temporary uses and building community capacity. The Commission published a community-led action guide and highlighted other resources to support this.

Putting Proactive Land Reuse Into Practice

© Scottish Land Commission

Charlie Woods from the Economic Development Association Scotland chaired Week 3 and invited the Commission, Architecture and Design Scotland, and Scottish Futures Trust to discuss about what proactive, public-sector led approach to land reuse looks like in practice. Collaboration emerged as a key ingredient for delivering this approach. A masterclass with Irene Beautyman (Improvement Service) and Kevin Murray Associates gave participants the opportunity to move beyond the idea of collaboration to actually doing it via an engaging role play exercise. Drawing this to a close, Clyde Mission and Aberdeenshire Council highlighted their unique approach to proactive land reuse – partnership being integral to this.

Finally, we discussed how to develop a strategy in Week 4 with Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth Building, Tom Arthur MSP, who launched the Commission’s community wealth building guidance on land and assets. The guidance was brought to life via a conversation with Gemma Campbell, Scottish Land Commission, Rachel Bentley, Centre for Local Economic Strategies, and Carey Doyle from Community Land Scotland. Community wealth building presents a mechanism for public authorities to ensure that citizens directly benefit from land reuse. Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, and North Lanarkshire Councils illustrated the enormous potential of aligning vacant and derelict land aims with wider retail, commerce and housing strategies to meet local and national objectives. To support this, Ryden presented its review of the funding sources available for vacant and derelict land and reflected on the changing funding landscape, while Historic Environment Scotland and Crown Estate Scotland outlined their funds.

The Commission brought the events to a close with an offer of a one-stop shop page of resources and an invitation to work with public sector landowners on how best to make the most of their estate by using the land rights and responsibilities as guiding principles.

Get Involved with Land Reuse in Scotland

In 2020, the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce recommended that a national vacant and derelict land coordination role is needed to oversee delivery of the changes to policy and practice, to make links between delivery agencies and share the lessons learned and implications for future policy change. The activities, and feedback, of Land Reuse Month demonstrated that there is an appetite for a dedicated space to focus on solutions to vacant and derelict land amongst public sector practitioners. The events may be a model for coordinating future conversations about land reuse across Scotland. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit our website or get in touch on or call us on 01463 423 300.