Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey 2011

Survey of vacant and derelict land in Scotland.

10 Annex: Considerations when interpreting the data

A.1 Data Quality. Local authorities may not update all historic site information every survey, consequently some site information may not be current. For example, a site may be sold and change ownership type. A change like this could happen without a local authority's knowledge. When up-to date information is reported by local authorities it is included in the historical datasets to allow improved time series analysis.

A.2 Removal and Addition of Sites. The means by which new sites are detected are largely centred on the expert knowledge of local authority planning officers. It is very important to note that Table 16, which shows new sites added since the previous survey, shows only entirely new sites that are identified as falling out of use since the previous survey (in this case 2010). Sites that have increased in size since the previous survey or those newly identified in 2011 but highlighted as being out of use prior to 2010 are not shown. Similarly, when part of a site is brought back into use, that part is detailed in the 'B' data set, and the part not brought back into use remains in the survey 'A' data set.

A.3 Changes in Site Details. Changes in site details can also cause other difficulties in interpreting the data. The most notable are when two separate sites become joined by the inclusion of a further piece of vacant or derelict land, and alternatively when a single site has a central area brought back into use, such that the remaining disused area does not form a single contiguous site. The first of these scenarios is the most awkward from a statistical viewpoint, as data regarding previous use etc. for both sites are unlikely to be compatible. Where this happens, details from the largest contributing site are used to describe the new, compound site.

A.4 Changes in Historic Data, 2005-2010. As each local authority returned their 2011 surveys, work was also undertaken to improve the quality of the data supplied in the previous 2005 to 2010 returns. This process was done to allow for improved time series analysis. The key aspects of this work included the removal (back to 2005) of any sites identified by the local authority as being 'removed for definitional reasons' (and hence not suitable to have been included in the survey in the first place) as well as correcting historically any other revisions reported in 2011, in the main where the site size has changed, or where the site should have been included earlier than it was. Historical site-type changes are not included unless there is a specific requirement and explicit agreement is obtained for these changes to be made. The outcome of this work produced a notional national SVDLS data set for the years from 2005-2010. The results of these datasets are given throughout the tables and time series analysis of this bulletin. The SVDLS itself has been running continuously since 1993. Historical data on the amount of derelict and urban vacant land in Scotland, for the years 1996 to 2004, is shown in Annex Table A overleaf. This data has remained completely unaltered since the 2005 survey publication. Thus care should be taken when comparing 1996-2004 data in Annex Table A to 2005-2011 data shown in this bulletin. The 1996-2004 data has not been revised to correct for any revisions received after this period in data recording.

Annex Table A: Total Derelict and Urban Vacant land by local authority area, 1996-20041,2,3

Local Authority Total Derelict and Urban Vacant Land Area (ha)
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Aberdeen City 190 184 184 139 129 152 152 105 139
Aberdeenshire 190 191 152 152 145 143 122 118 118
Angus 387 373 379 254 213 215 216 156 155
Argyll & Bute 64 55 46 46 45 45 46 46 46
Clackmannanshire 71 57 64 63 57 55 76 78 71
Dumfries & Galloway 365 371 372 364 361 364 360 358 358
Dundee City 282 279 288 254 254 259 247 224 237
East Ayrshire 564 564 568 477 441 426 355 330 319
East Dunbartonshire 109 113 109 100 86 86 135 123 121
East Lothian 261 250 236 106 139 134 127 122 86
East Renfrewshire 50 54 42 37 33 32 40 46 56
Edinburgh, City of 154 145 143 122 162 167 167 123 117
Eilean Siar 16 13 13 11 11 11 11 11 12
Falkirk 395 372 226 196 196 248 279 255 247
Fife 767 754 948 975 767 665 667 750 804
Glasgow City 1,617 1,580 1,581 1,558 1,476 1,392 1,383 1,345 1,315
Highland 813 813 813 813 813 813 1,181 1,154 1,147
Inverclyde 131 122 124 123 126 132 127 142 142
Midlothian 458 424 392 394 382 294 295 289 318
Moray 41 41 41 41 41 41 41 39 36
North Ayrshire 366 387 378 409 391 418 428 555 542
North Lanarkshire 2,757 2,366 1,957 2,021 2,021 1,938 1,603 1,509 1,321
Orkney Islands 25 25 23 38 26 22 22 18 18
Perth & Kinross 94 98 132 149 139 106 111 109 114
Renfrewshire 347 259 421 413 400 428 989 1,007 1,025
Scottish Borders 76 90 87 79 79 69 69 65 65
Shetland Islands - - - - - - 2 2 2
South Ayrshire 111 133 152 152 164 156 152 144 144
South Lanarkshire 747 684 662 689 702 686 651 635 604
Stirling 173 173 161 219 210 200 203 210 203
West Dunbartonshire 214 230 243 230 225 216 224 222 220
West Lothian 1,100 1,100 1,100 809 809 496 573 556 560
Scotland 12,933 12,296 12,037 11,432 11,044 10,411 11,053 10,847 10,661

1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.
2. See Annex Table E for details of council participation in different years.
3. Care should be taken when comparing this data to that published for the years 2005-2011 in the main part of this bulletin. The data above has not been amended to take account of land removed for definitional reasons or other previous reporting errors.

A.5 Land area eligible. Although local authorities are asked to note all derelict land for the survey (see Annex section A.11 regarding Highland Council), the recording of vacant land is restricted to all land located within any settlement as defined by the local authority in the latest council approved local plan. Consequently, the actual land area surveyed for vacant land is often considerably smaller than the total land area of each local authority, especially in the case of the more rural areas.

A.6 Settlements of population 2,000 and over cut-off. Local authorities were asked to survey for vacant land within all settlements defined in their latest council approved local plans. However, due to resource constraints on some local authorities (particularly those covering large rural areas), some were unable to do a full survey of every settlement for vacant land. All did however survey every settlement within their boundaries that had a population of 2,000 or more. Therefore, to ensure consistency in data presentation, the statistics presented on vacant land throughout this bulletin refer only to land located within settlements that have a population of at least 2,000 (according to the local plan).

Some local authorities did carry out either a full or partial survey for vacant land in settlements of under 2,000 in population. All vacant sites located within settlements of under 2,000 in population are shown separately from the rest of the bulletin in Annex Table B below.

Annex Table B: Vacant Land within Settlements of under 2,000 in population, 20111,2

Local Authority Area (ha) No. of Sites
Aberdeenshire 206 6
Angus 2 1
East Ayrshire 19 8
Edinburgh, City of 19 8
Falkirk 1 2
Fife 8 7
Glasgow City * 2
Highland * 1
Moray 2 3
North Ayrshire 18 17
North Lanarkshire 3 5
Perth & Kinross 2 2
Scottish Borders 5 3
South Ayrshire 4 5
South Lanarkshire 8 11
Scotland 297 81

1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.
2. Authorities included in this table are the only ones with any surveyed vacant land in small settlements.

All the local authorities shown in the above table have conducted either a full or partial survey for vacant land within settlements of under 2,000 in population. Any local authorities not shown in the above table have either not surveyed any settlement under 2,000 in population for vacant land, or do not contain any settlements of under 2,000 in population according to local plans (i.e. Aberdeen City).

It is estimated that approximately 14,400 hectares of land within settlements of under 2,000 in population were surveyed for vacant land in Scotland during 2011. From this area, local authorities reported a total of 297 hectares of vacant land across 81 sites. Aberdeenshire had the highest amount of reported land within settlements of under 2,000 in population, with 206 hectares across 6 sites - this includes a site at the former Edzell air base (200 hectares).

Of the 80 sites (318 hectares) of vacant land in settlements of under 2,000 in population reported in 2010, 6 sites (21 hectares) were brought back into productive use and 1 site (2 hectares) was re-classified as derelict.

Annex Table C: Derelict Land as a percentage of total area by local authority area, 20111,2

Local Authority Total Derelict Land (ha) Total Area (ha)3 % of Local Authority Derelict
Aberdeen City 20 18,576 0.1
Aberdeenshire 35 631,259 0.0
Angus 116 218,178 0.1
Argyll & Bute4 9 690,899 0.0
Clackmannanshire 14 15,864 0.1
Dumfries & Galloway 200 642,601 0.0
Dundee City 14 5,983 0.2
East Ayrshire 280 126,216 0.2
East Dunbartonshire 48 17,461 0.3
East Lothian 54 67,918 0.1
East Renfrewshire 38 17,379 0.2
Edinburgh, City of 123 26,373 0.5
Eilean Siar 1 307,094 0.0
Falkirk 79 29,737 0.3
Fife 776 132,486 0.6
Glasgow City 668 17,549 3.8
Highland 1,017 2,565,934 0.0
Inverclyde 25 16,046 0.2
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs4,5 23 186,340 0.0
Midlothian 255 35,369 0.7
Moray 2 223,756 0.0
North Ayrshire 1,102 88,539 1.2
North Lanarkshire 1,147 46,981 2.4
Orkney Islands 44 98,990 0.0
Perth & Kinross4 41 528,581 0.0
Renfrewshire 766 26,109 2.9
Scottish Borders 66 473,176 0.0
Shetland Islands 7 146,648 0.0
South Ayrshire 70 122,199 0.1
South Lanarkshire 380 177,193 0.2
Stirling4 136 218,735 0.1
West Dunbartonshire4 181 15,890 1.1
West Lothian 559 42,733 1.3
Scotland5 8,297 7,792,452 0.1

1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.
2. A partial survey was completed for Highland - See Annex A.11.
3. Land areas used to calculate the amount of councils that are derelict were Standard Area Measurements as supplied by Ordnance Survey. This is the area to Mean High Water less inland water. The area measurements are a definitive set derived from boundaries maintained by Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland. The current measurements may differ from those published previously in tables, publications, or other statistical outputs, even allowing for boundary changes or changes to the physical structure of the land because of improvements in the source of data. Figures presented for area are for census day, 29th April, 2001.
4. In 2011 LLTNP took responsibility for surveying vacant and derelict land within the park boundaries. These sites are no longer recorded in Argyll & Bute, Perth & Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire local authority boundaries, and are separately identifiable as LLTNP in 2011. In previous years, these sites were classified within the relevant local authority boundary
5. Although the land area for LLTNP is separately identified it is also included within the land area for the relevant local authorities that overlap the park. Therefore the total land area for Scotland does not include this separately identified land area for LLTNP.

A.7 Estimate of the proportion of local authority population living within a defined distance of a Derelict Site. Tables 7 and 8 in the main publication show estimates by local authority of the percentage of their population living within various distances of derelict land. For table 7 (using 2011 SVDLS data) a buffer zone based on the area of each derelict site was drawn around the grid co-ordinate points supplied for that site. This gives an estimated boundary for each site. Data should be treated with care as it is not the 'actual' site boundaries that are being used. Table 8 followed the same procedure with regard to 'estimating' site boundaries. The second part of table 8 estimates the proportion of local authority population living in close proximity to land that has been derelict prior to 1991 (i.e. derelict for at least 18 years). In this instance, only derelict sites which were either identified by local authorities as being derelict prior to 1991 or, (where length of time derelict is unknown) where the first site inspection occurred prior to 1991, are included.

To measure the proportion of each local authority that lives within a certain distance of derelict land, a national data set was constructed that estimated the population of each property identified as likely to be residential in Ordnance Survey's 2010 Address-Point data set. Average household size figures were calculated by dividing National Records of Scotland's (NRS) census population by census household counts at the Census Output Area (COA) level. All records in Address-Point 2010 that were identified as likely to be residential were assigned an estimated household size figure based on the average household size of the COA they fall within (their unit-postcodes being used to link with a COA from NRS's geographic index dataset by way of Royal Mail's 2010 Postcode Index File).

To ensure consistency with previously published population estimates, the latest available small-area estimates of population by NRS (in this case datazones for 2010) were used as a control factor on the calculated household size figures. For each property in the Address-Point based dataset, the distance to the nearest estimated derelict site boundary was calculated, to highlight those properties within the defined distance of derelict land. Those properties' estimated populations were then aggregated up by datazone to give a proportion of each datazone's population (and hence each local authority's population) estimated to live within the defined distance of derelict land.

Overall it is estimated that 30.1% of the population of Scotland live within 500m of a derelict site in 2011. All the data published in Tables 7 and 8 on proximity will also be available at the datazone level on the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website at The website will be updated with these results at the next data update, following the publication of this bulletin.

A.8 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD 2009, Version 2) and Derelict/Urban Vacant land. Table 9 shows the amount of derelict and urban vacant land located within Scotland's 15% most deprived datazones. Those datazones are identified by way of the 2009 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Project (the results of which were published in October 2009 with a version 2 revision in July 2010). The SIMD 2009 project identifies small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across all of Scotland. It contains 38 indicators in seven domains: Current Income, Employment, Health, Education, Skills and Training, Geographic Access to Services, Housing and Crime. Sites in the SVDLS are identified as being located within Scotland's most deprived areas if their grid co-ordinate point (i.e. the centre of the site) falls within a 15% most deprived datazone. Care should be taken with this data as there could be instances of some sites (especially the larger ones) crossing datazone boundaries, hence part of the site may be in a 15% most deprived datazone, whilst the other part could be outwith. Further information on the SIMD 2009 project can be found on the Scottish Government's web page at:

A.9 Sites reused with the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund. Table 23 provides an estimate of the number of properties within 500m of a site reclaimed using the Scottish Government's Vacant and Derelict Land Fund (VDLF). To calculate this data, each of the 140 sites reclaimed to date had a buffer zone based on the area of those sites plus 500m drawn around the grid co-ordinate points supplied for that site. Using GIS and the Address-Point based dataset (described in Annex Section A.7) every property (both residential and communal) that falls within the overall buffer zone of a reclaimed site was identified. These properties were then aggregated up to give a total figure for each of the VDLF local authorities. Further analysis was then run to determine whether properties were located within a datazone that SIMD 2009 (Version 2) identified as being in the 15% most deprived in Scotland .

A.10 Definitions/Interpretations. The SVDLS guidelines clearly state the definitions for the recording of derelict and urban vacant land. Where difficulties are encountered, the guidelines have been modified to assist in the provision of uniform returns, but ultimately the survey relies on the consistent application of definitions between local authorities and through subsequent years. The data revision work for 2005-2010 (described in Annex Section A.4) was carried out to improve uniformity between local authority returns for those years. Some of the changes reported in Annex Table D (sites removed for 'definitional' reasons) come about following a reappraisal of the survey guidelines (which themselves were reviewed and revised prior to the 2006 survey). The introduction of GIS systems has also allowed planning officers to improve data quality, hence also leading to some of the changes in Annex Table D. Since the last survey, 128 hectares of land were removed from the survey for definitional reasons. SVDLS guidance documents can be found at:

Annex Table D: Sites removed for definitional reasons, by local authority area, 20111,2

Local Authority Derelict Land Urban Vacant Land Total Derelict and Urban Vacant Land
Area (ha) No. of Sites Area (ha) No. of Sites Area (ha) No. of Sites
Aberdeen City - - 2 2 2 2
Clackmannanshire 19 3 24 8 43 11
East Lothian 2 2 - - 2 2
East Renfrewshire - - 1 1 1 1
Falkirk 7 4 4 2 11 6
Fife * 1 * 1 1 2
Glasgow City 6 7 6 8 12 15
Inverclyde - - 6 3 6 3
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs 2 2 1 1 3 3
Moray - - 1 1 1 1
North Lanarkshire 30 17 10 10 40 27
Perth & Kinross - - * 1 * 1
South Lanarkshire - - 2 2 2 2
Stirling 3 6 * 1 3 7
West Dunbartonshire 2 4 1 1 3 5
Scotland 71 46 58 42 128 88

1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.
2. As well as sites removed for definitional reasons, this table includes sites split/amalgamated and naturalised.

A.11 Land surveyed by Highland Council. Due to the large area of land covered by Highland council, a partial survey was carried out in each year between 2002 and 2005 (inclusive). Only derelict and urban vacant sites within settlements containing a population of 2,000 or over and derelict sites within the Inner Moray Firth area were surveyed. In 2006, the (then) Scottish Executive let a contract to consultants to survey derelict sites in outlying parts of Highland council area. This was the first time since 1993 that derelict sites were surveyed in the outlying areas of Highland council. Overall it meant that a complete survey was carried out in Highland during 2006 (in terms of what was presented in the main part of the 2006 bulletin on derelict and urban vacant land). Highland council surveyed all settlements of over 2,000 in population for derelict and urban vacant land and the Inner Moray Firth area for derelict land, the consultants surveyed the remaining outer rural areas for derelict land. In 2007 the previous practice was resumed with Highland council surveying for land within settlements containing a population of 2,000 or over and derelict sites within the Inner Moray Firth area. The 2006 results of the consultants' work in most of the outer rural parts of Highland council were brought forward as the best possible estimate for 2011.

A.12 Database of Sites. A database of existing sites detailing their name, site code, type (vacant or derelict), size (in hectares) and location (by grid reference, local authority and whether or not the site is within a settlement or the countryside) is available on the Scottish Government's Planning Statistics web page at

Copies can also be sent out by contacting Communities Analytical Services Division on 0131 244 0439.

A.13 Land surveyed by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority. In 2010 it was decided that Loch Lomond would take responsibility for surveying vacant and derelict land within the park's boundaries - this task had previously fallen to the local authorities that overlap the park. The authority was unable to complete a full survey of the park area for 2010, so the figures were included as part of the relevant local authorities as before. However, summary figures were published in the 2010 SVDLS bulletin (Annex E). In 2011 LLTNP's figures have been presented in their own right in the main body of the bulletin.

Local authority participation

A.14 Participation of Local Authorities. It is important to remember throughout the interpretation of the figures reported in this bulletin that not all local authorities participate in the survey every year. There are two main impacts arising from this:

1. Comparisons between years must be made with care and only for individual local authorities where suitable data exist.
2. Where a local authority has not provided data every year, the recorded change will be since the last survey, and will thus reflect several years' worth of change.

Non-participating councils are identified for each year since 1996 in Annex Table E.

Annex Table E: Local Authorities NOT participating in the survey, 1996-2011

Local Authority 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Aberdeen City     x       x                  
Aberdeenshire                 x       x      
Argyll & Bute       x       x x              
Dumfries & Galloway x                              
Dundee City   x     x                      
East Ayrshire x x 1                   x      
East Dunbartonshire                                
East Lothian                                
East Renfrewshire                                
Edinburgh, City of             x                  
Eilean Siar                                
Falkirk         x                      
Glasgow City                                
Highland x x x x x x 2 2 2 2   2 2 2 2 2
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs4 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x 3  
Midlothian x                              
Moray   x x x   x   x         x      
North Ayrshire             x                  
North Lanarkshire                                
Orkney Islands                                
Perth & Kinross                                
Scottish Borders         x     x x x            
Shetland Islands               x                
South Ayrshire       x         x   x          
South Lanarkshire                                
Stirling   x                            
West Dunbartonshire                                
West Lothian x x x   x                      

1. Only the SVDLS-A data file was provided.
2. See Annex Section A.11.
3. In the 2010 SVDLS bulletin (Annex E) summary figures were published for LLTNP.
4. In 2011 LLTNP took responsibility for surveying vacant and derelict land within the park boundaries. These sites are no longer recorded in Argyll & Bute, Perth & Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire local authority boundaries, and are separately identifiable as LLTNP in 2011. In previous years, these sites were classified within the relevant local authority boundary.

A.15 Revisions policy. This policy has been developed in accordance with the UK Statistics Authority Code of practice for Official Statistics ( and the Scottish Government Revisions Policy ( There are two types of revisions that this policy covers.

1. Scheduled Revisions:

Changes to the component data sources used in the statistical release will be incorporated in the next scheduled release. All figures which are expected to be revised will be clearly marked as provisional and an indication given of when revisions are expected to be published. If possible an indication of the possible scale and nature of likely revisions will be given. On publication of revisions, all relevant releases will clearly indicate where a revision has occurred and the reasons why.

In order to enable up to date information to be included, each annual return can be updated at any time after the initial publication of the figures for that year. Every year, as well as releasing figures for the latest year, we revise the previous years back to 2005 to incorporate any data that came in shortly after the previous data collection period. Data prior to 2005 will not be revised.

Local authorities return an annual snap shot of vacant and derelict sites. These are used to compile a consistent time series. The main reasons for revisions are:

  • Local authorities may not update all historic site information every survey, consequently some site information may not be current. Changes to site details will be revised back to the time the change occurred (rather than when it was reported);
  • Removal and addition of sites - the means by which new sites are detected are largely centred on the expert knowledge of local authority planning officers. Sites may not be known to a local authority in the year they become vacant or derelict and will be reported when the local authority becomes aware of them.
  • Sites may be removed for definitional reasons, as work is undertaken to improve the quality of the data supplied. In this case the site is removed from the entire time series.

All other revisions to historic data (all data older than that currently due for revision) should only be made where there is a substantial revision, such as a change in methodology or definition.

2. Non-scheduled Revisions

If an error occurred as a result of the compilation, imputation or dissemination process, consideration will be given to:

  • The importance of the statistic e.g. is it a headline figure or being used in significant ways?
  • The size of the mistake particularly relative to any stated levels of accuracy
  • The recipients of the mistake
  • The consequences of the mistake - does it alter the main message of the statistics or any likely use?

Minor errors will be corrected in the next edition of the publication. The correction will be made clear and reasons explained.

For substantial errors we will:

  • Correct the material on the website, making clear that this has been done.
  • Notify users of any substantial errors or errors which could affect their own work.
  • Where errors have been identified that will take time to correct advance notice should be given if possible with the expected release date and an indication of possible scale.

In the case of major corrections we will also issue a formal Statistical News Release subject to the normal procedures for such releases.

A.16 Uses of the data: The main purpose of the statistics is to provide a national data source to inform the programming of rehabilitation, planning and reuse of urban vacant and derelict sites. The statistics are used to inform development and evaluation of rehabilitation and reuse of vacant and derelict land policy by central and local government. Main uses are:

  1. Provide the evidence base for monitoring the extent and state of urban vacant and derelict land, the remediation of vacant and derelict land and progress in bringing it into re-use. The statistics are also used by the Scottish Government to allocate and monitor the impact of the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund. The VDLF is one of three elements of the Capital Investment Fund which provides support for physical development such as land remediation, enabling infrastructure, and support for town centres.
  2. Informing Statutory Documents - the statistics provide evidence for developing the Local Development Plan, Local Housing Strategy and Strategic Housing Investment Plan. The SVDLS provides evidence for identifying the provision of land for the housing component of the development plan.
  3. Land Remediation relief - the Scottish Government feed into the UK Government's land remediation relief, which looks at providing incentives for the remediation of brownfield land.
  4. Regeneration - the site register is used by the Urban Regeneration Companies to identify sites for regeneration. In addition it has been used in research papers, such as "Recession And Regeneration: The Impact Of The Economic Downturn On The Delivery Of Physical Regeneration" (an internal discussion document).
  5. Non-domestic rates - evidence to feed into the discussion on potential income generated from vacant and derelict land becoming subject to non-domestic business rates.
  6. National Brownfield Forum - this is a UK forum (jointly chaired between DCLG and DeFRA), looking at the remediation of brownfield land with a focus on high level policy issues.
  7. Environmental Industries Commission - the Minister presents a range of information annually to this Commission, including statistics on vacant and derelict land and progress towards bringing this into re-use.
  8. The statistics provide evidence to respond to questions from Ministers, local authorities, and the external stakeholders, developers and the media.


Email: Dorothy Watson

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