Last week in parliament (Wednesday 9 March) the MSP welcomed a positive response to her questions around what actions the Scottish Government are taking in relation to derelict land and abandoned buildings which, Ms Harper said, can impact negatively upon local communities.
The Scottish Government confirmed that from this April a new fund will open for Stage One applications from local authorities. The Low Carbon Vacant and Derelict Land InvestmentProgramme, which is built around progressing four key actions and includes; urban green spaces, community led regeneration, low carbon housing and renewable energy will go live.
Ms Harper also welcomed the Scottish Government’s confirmation that the draft National Planning Framework Number 4 proposes a stronger policy position on tackling vacant and derelict sites which the MSP said would help improve the situation across her South Scotland region.
Emma Harper SNP MSP, commented;
“Since my re-election to the Scottish Parliament in May last year, I have been pursuing greater action on vacant, derelict and abandoned buildings and sites.
“Given that this is the Scottish Land Commission’s Land Reuse Month, I was pleased to be able to raise the issue of vacant, derelict and abandoned sites directly with the Scottish Government in chamber. Scotland has almost 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict sites – equivalent to 20,556 football pitches – and people, on average, live within 500 meters of a derelict site. These sites – such as the Interfloor Factor in Dumfries, George Hotel in Stranraer, Central Hotel in Annan and N Peal Building in Hawick – can have a negative impact on the wellbeing of local communities.
“I asked the Scottish Government what steps it can take to help communities better deal with vacant, derelict and abandoned land and was pleased to hear that from April a new fund will open for Stage One applications from local authorities. The Low Carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme was launched last year and is available for projects developing urban green spaces, community led regeneration, low carbon housing and renewable energy. I will be encouraging Dumfries & Galloway Council and the Scottish Borders Council to apply.
“I am also pleased to hear that the draft National Planning Framework Number 4 proposes a stronger policy position on tackling vacant and derelict sites which will help play an important role in supporting, improving the wellbeing for local communities”.
“I will continue to pursue this issue and I will continue to push for urgent action to deal with the many derelict sites across our region as the evidence shows that these sites can have a negatives impact on the community health and wellbeing.