Land Reform (Scotland) Bill (Urban Community Assets)

Portfolio Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament am ar 8 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Llafur

To ask the Scottish Government how it plans to incorporate the ownership and management of community assets in urban areas into its Land Reform (Scotland) Bill. (S6O-03388)

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill sets out ambitious proposals that will change for the better how land is owned and managed in our rural and island communities. I appreciate that one size and, indeed, one bill most definitely does not fit all. The Government recognises the need to continue to develop policies and programmes for land in urban areas that reflect local needs and priorities. That is why, in March, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands announced a review of the community rights to buy to look at how effective our current powers are in urban and rural areas.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Llafur

In 2020, after the Heart of Newhaven primary school was closed, a community asset transfer brought the building into public ownership, allowing it to serve its area as a community hub. Local engagement is so important, yet the provisions on community engagement in the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill apply only to holdings that are thousands of hectares. Can the minister advise how the Scottish Government will ensure good use of areas of land that are smaller than those that are mentioned in the bill?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I absolutely take on board the point that Foysol Choudhury raises. The regeneration investment programme is supporting communities to develop and take ownership of land and assets across Scotland. To date, over £265 million has been invested through the regeneration capital grant fund, supporting nearly 230 community-led projects, and almost £27 million has been invested through the vacant and derelict land investment programme. That programme has brought back into use just over 112 hectares of persistent vacant and derelict land.

We will continue to deliver the vacant and derelict land fund. Five eligible councils are currently receiving a share of £7.65 million in 2023-24, and a figure of £5 million is planned for 2024-25.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Ceidwadwyr

Although we want communities to benefit from land ownership, it must be done in a way that is fair and proportionate. How will the Scottish Government determine when the lotting of land is in the public interest? What steps will the minister take to ensure that the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill complies with existing property rights?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary is taking through the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, and I am answering on her behalf, so I apologise if I do not give a full answer.

My understanding at this stage is that the Government was looking at a figure of over 1,000 hectares—it might be 3,000. I cannot honestly give the right numbers for that, but I know that the cabinet secretary has been looking at the issue, so we can get a fuller answer to the member in writing.