Community organisations and groups should be given the opportunity to give derelict buildings or public spaces a new lease of life.
At an event with the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations in Edinburgh SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon will discuss SNP proposals to support communities in purchasing under and un-used public sector assets and bring them back into use. Purchasing run down or unused land and buildings for a community can not only deal with the problem of derelict and dormant land or buildings but act as a catalyst for social enterprise
Ms Sturgeon will say:
“At the heart of the SNP’s campaign for Holyrood is our belief that together we can make Scotland better. People and politicians have a role to play in ensuring that as Scotland works through the tough times ahead we protect Scotland’s social values and support all those in our communities who need our help.
“Meeting the challenges ahead will mean doing things differently, preventing problems in society as well as picking up the pieces. That is why the Scottish Government has announced a £5 million fund in next year’s budget to help the voluntary sector support our youngest children where they need it and why in our consultation ahead of next year’s election we want to support some of the grassroots projects that will make Scotland better.
“Supporting communities in making their own areas and Scotland as a whole better is a theme that will resonate through the SNP’s programme for a second term in government as part of our belief in a culture of independence.
“Too often people with great ideas to reclaim derelict land and buildings for their community face real problems in purchasing the building or persuading public sector owners not to sell to commercial developers.
“Across Scotland there are people with ideas to bring derelict land and buildings back into use for social enterprises, small businesses, community centres and environmental projects. There are hundreds of derelict sites across Scotland and public buildings that are not being put to use. When people have good ideas to improve their area we should do our best to help them. That is the job and responsibility of Government and is one the SNP take seriously.
“We have seen through innovative schemes like the SNP’s Climate Challenge Fund and through Scotland’s land buy outs that when communities and voluntary organisations across Scotland get together they can be real catalysts for change and economic growth in an area.
“Projects like that run by the Comrie Development Trust who have turned old army huts on land outside the village into business premises with plans to generate renewable energy show what can be achieved, while the problems facing community efforts to bring North Kelvin Meadow in Glasgow back to life show the difficulties that are too often faced.
“Community ownership for community benefit should be more practical. When publicly-owned assets do lie empty, organised and motivated community groups who try to take them over should receive help rather than hindrance from the legislation. The interests of private developers looking at public assets must be balanced against the community benefit that can come from grassroots plans.
“As part of our invitation to people across Scotland to be part of better we want to hear whether this kind of action to improve communities and create opportunities would deliver what people need to put their ideas into practice.”
John Downie, Director of Public Affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations welcomed Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks:
“In these difficult times, it’s more important than ever for government to do things differently, especially with communities. That’s why Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of SNP proposals to give communities the right to buy under-used public sector assets is so important.
“We welcome the emphasis not just on derelict land but on buildings that may close as budget cuts bite. These assets are wanted, needed and can be used effectively by communities throughout Scotland.
“At SCVO we know that communities with the resources to sustain themselves are stronger and more cohesive. So over the coming months, we will be asking all the parties at Holyrood to commit to extending the community right to buy to urban areas. We hope that tonight’s policy forum provides the chance to discuss these ideas in more detail.”