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New Scottish Government figures show that about 1 in 3 people, approximately 1.25 million people, in the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area live within 500m of vacant and derelict land.

This proportion rises to 55% for the most disadvantaged communities.

As Scotland’s leading environmental regeneration charity, the Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) has long recognised that unlocking the potential of vacant and derelict land (VDL) sites can bring positive change to communities and individuals.

Almost 80% of Scotland’s VDL is found in the CSGN area, and though many of these sites may be awaiting redevelopment and some may even be greening naturally, the majority continue to blight communities.

They attract antisocial behaviour and provide little benefit to those who live nearby. The Scottish Land Commission research report ‘Vacant and Derelict Land in Scotland: Assessing the Impact of Vacant and Derelict Land on Communities’ found that derelict sites can affect a community’s health, environment, economy and social cohesion.

The current lockdown has highlighted the importance of people living in towns and cities having easily accessible, safe and attractive public spaces close to where they live. Spaces like this are lacking in many of the communities most affected by VDL. As we all seek out places to explore and enjoy while spending more time closer to home, what could VDL sites become and what benefits could these unused and underused spaces offer? 

In 2019, our annual conference sought inspiration from across the globe, with guest speakers sharing their experiences on how VDL sites can be repurposed. The event showcased projects that, for example, transformed vacant neighbourhood sites into raingardens that help to control stormwater flooding, and a reservoir which had been closed for almost 200 years being turned into an urban wetland nature reserve.

As a member of the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce, CSGNT is working to transform the existing approach to bringing vacant and derelict land back into productive use. We are also supporting partners to prioritise tackling VDL, especially in Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas.

Working with local groups and organisations to deliver permanent or temporary greening projects, we are reducing the negative impacts of VDL and creating new positive uses for sites. From pocket parks and community allotments to world-class bike tracks and large scale masterplanning our work continues to bring about change in communities. Whether it is a major regeneration project, or something simple and temporary such as a wildflower meadow, we are helping to breathe life back into these spaces and transform them into real assets that work well for local people.

Find out more about what we can do to support you on our website.


The Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey 2019 is a National Statistics publication. It uses data sourced by Scottish Government from local authorities and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority. The full report can be found here.


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