Slapping a tax on vacant land in East Dunbartonshire could bring in £1m, say Greens

John Devlin 29/05/17. GLASGOW. Stock shot of Scottish Green Party MSP for West of Scotland, Ross Greer.
John Devlin 29/05/17. GLASGOW. Stock shot of Scottish Green Party MSP for West of Scotland, Ross Greer.

A new report by the Scottish Greens claims giving East Dunbartonshire Council the power to tax the 70 football pitches worth of vacant and derelict land in the area could generate nearly £1 million a year to build affordable homes and tackle the housing crisis.

According to the report, “This Could Be Home: making use of Scotland’s vacant and derelict land”, there are 29 derelict and vacant sites, making up a total of 77.5 hectares of vacant land in the area, of which 42 per cent is classed as developable.

The report follows attempts by the Green MSPs in January 2016 to amend the Land Reform Bill so that the near 13,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land in communities across Scotland would be brought into the non-domestic rates system.

A spokesperson for the Greens said this was rejected by the Scottish Government who at the time said they would consult on the proposal but have not yet done so.

He added the report shows that of those 13,000 hectares, almost 9,000 are classed as developable and could bring in £200 million a year for public services such as housing.

There are almost 4,000 derelict sites in Scotland, including 782 in Glasgow, 487 in North Lanarkshire, 281 in North Ayrshire, 235 in South Lanarkshire and 223 in Fife.

It is believed over half of Scotland’s most deprived communities are within 500 metres of vacant and derelict land.

The Greens said Ireland recently created a Vacant Site Levy, with local councils due to levy charges next year.

Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland, said: “I’m well aware there’s a big need for more good quality affordable housing at the moment, but constant attempts to build on precious greenfield land around East Dunbartonshire is not the answer.

“At the same time, the equivalent of thousands of football pitches lie vacant in the West of Scotland and landowners profit from keeping the land in their own hands.

“Taxing derelict land would help address the need for housing in a way that saves loved and valued Green spaces. It would bring land into use and create income that could be used for council housing.”