Hamish Trench, Chief Executive, Scottish Land Commission
The Scottish Land Commission’s recent conference on ‘Scotland’s Land and Economy’ underscored why the way we own and use land is central to big public policy challenges including climate action, productivity, and a fair economy. Land is a national and a local asset. It is central to Scotland’s economies, communities, and identity. It would be odd if we didn’t think of land as being core to our ambitions for inclusive growth.
The Scottish Land Commission’s role is to stimulate fresh thinking in the ways we own and use land, and the conference brought together a wide range of people across sectors looking at opportunities to make more of our land – both urban and rural.
Land reform is about unlocking opportunities – for growth, regeneration, community development, and for more people to benefit from land. It is about tackling derelict sites, unlocking land for housing and development, releasing opportunities for rural communities, ensuring people can influence what happens to the land, buildings, and places around them.
Over the last year the Land Commission has worked with SEPA, Scottish Enterprise, and the Scottish Futures Trust to establish a major focus on bringing vacant and derelict sites back into productive use. A cross-sector taskforce is examining what systemic changes are needed to tackle the legacy of ‘stuck’ sites and how to help turn these into opportunities delivering community, economic, and environmental benefit.
We also have a major focus on modernising land ownership. This includes work to normalise community ownership as a driver of regeneration, looking at the potential of new governance models to derive more benefit from Common Good Land, and work to address the issues associated with Scotland’s concentrated pattern of land ownership.
And we are reviewing options to improve housing land supply. Land value and availability is fundamental, and so are ideas on more proactive land assembly and public interest-led development.
Now more than ever it is clear that our big public policy challenges demand a fresh look at how we own and use land to unlock inclusive growth and public value. We want to continue to engage widely to ensure our work connects to the practical challenges and opportunities in Scotland’s economies and communities.