South Scotland MSP Emma Harper is continuing her work to see timely action taken on Dumfries and Galloway’s derelict, vacant and abandoned buildings and land.
In the latest action in Ms Harper’s campaign – which so far has involved meeting with the Chair and staff of the Scottish Land commission, meeting with representatives from Dumfries and Galloway Council and raising the matter directly with the Scottish Government by written and chamber parliamentary questions – the South Scotland MSP has written directly to the owners of the region’s derelict, vacant and abandoned buildings and land to seek immediate action.
In her letter to the owners of these sites – including the Treasure Cave shop on English street, Interfloor Factory, 101 club, and George Street Art School in Dumfries, The Arches and Repeater Station in Stranraer, the Central Hotel in Annan, the Royal Hotel in Kirkcudbright to name a few – Ms Harper sets out the concerns from constituents and local businesses over the impact of these buildings on the town and how evidence has shown that they can also have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of those living close to them and persons seeing them on a daily basis.
The South Scotland MSP also highlights that a number of support options are available to the owners of these sites, such as the Scottish Land Commission’s £50m fund to transform vacant and derelict buildings, along with a number of powers which are available to Scottish local authorities.
In the letter, which includes pictures of the various buildings, Ms Harper asks:
- If the owners have any plans to improve their buildings
- Whether the owners have engaged with Dumfries and Galloway Council or the Scottish Land Commission, with a view to transforming these buildings from their current derelict state to useful community assets
- Whether the owners would be willing to allow a process of either a Community Asset Transfer or sale of their buildings, if either of these became an option
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“Since my re-election to the Scottish Parliament in May last year, I have been pursuing timely action to see a number of Dumfries and Galloway’s derelict, vacant and abandoned land and buildings transformed into useful community assets, housing, retail units, or outdoor green spaces. The region has a number of these derelict, vacant and abandoned sites – from Stranraer to Gretna – and I have heard from local constituents and businesses how they are a blight on the local community. Indeed, just last week I raised the impact of vacant and derelict sites on health and wellbeing at the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee as the evidence shows that these buildings and sites can have a negative and detrimental impact on local residents and visitors to the town.
“Previously, I met with the Chair and staff from the Scottish Land Commission who are tasked with transforming these sites. One of the valuable pieces of advice they gave me was to continue to raise awareness of the derelict, vacant and abandoned sites we have across the region and to keep the pressure on for immediate action to be taken to see them transformed. In addition to raising these sites with the Scottish Government’s Environment Minister and local authority, I have now written directly to the owners of the sites across Dumfries and Galloway to ask whether they have any plans to improve their buildings, whether they have engaged with the Scottish Land Commission and whether they would consider a community asset transfer for their building, or its sale, should this be an option. I am sending these letters out, along with an update from me, to people and businesses who are located around each site. Indeed, last Friday 4 February, I delivered these to residents and businesses on English Street in Dumfries regarding the dilapidated Treasure Cave building.
“I will continue to keep the pressure on the owners of these buildings, the Scottish Government and Dumfries & Galloway Council to see timely action taken to transform them from blights on our community into useful community assets. I will keep all updated on my work and on any responses I receive.”