On a recent holiday to Seattle, I spotted a number of creative examples of how former industrial and derelict sites have been transformed into new spaces, including a gas works converted into a popular public park and a petrol station into an outdoor cafe with space for food trucks.
Back home in Scotland, in 2017, The Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey identified 3,731 vacant and derelict sites, totalling 11,980 hectares, of which 52% were classed as derelict, 42% vacant and 6% vacant with land.
But what can be done about this?
A recent report by Ryden LLP, appointed by the Scottish Law Commission and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), analysed 60 of these sites and has put forward a number of recommendations for decreasing the amount of long-term vacant and derelict land in Scotland.
These include —
- Commercial potential
- Employment potential
- Green infrastructure
- Passive open space
The report was only the first phase in the project and identified a number of barriers which will need to be overcome such as funding, site sizes, infrastructure and planning. It will nonetheless be interesting to see how these recommendations are applied in the future and whether they can, as hoped, help breathe new life into vacant and derelict sites across Scotland.
The overall aim is to achieve a substantial reduction in the amount of long term vacant and derelict land in Scotland, through removing systemic barriers and realising productive opportunities.