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Scottish Vacant And Derelict Land Survey 2021

The Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey (SVDLS) is a data collection undertaken to establish the extent and state of vacant and derelict land in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection


7. Derelict Land: Levels, Location and Characteristics

7.1 Derelict land is land which has been so damaged by development, that it is unsuitable for development for beneficial use without rehabilitation. The land must currently not be used for the purpose for which it is held or a use acceptable in the local plan. Land also qualifies as derelict if it has an un-remedied previous use which could constrain future development. Particular care should be taken when interpreting the data for 2020 as eight authorities were unable to complete a survey return mainly due to COVID-19 Pandemic related restrictions and results have been rolled over from 2019. This will affect the figures for each of these authorities, the Scotland total and any comparison with other years. More detailed information on this is presented in section 4 of the publication and in the notes accompanying tables, chart and annexes.

7.2 There has been a decrease in derelict land of 28% since 2015. The biggest fall has been in 2021 with a decrease of 1,719 hectares (Table 6). Most of the decrease in 2021 has been due to the restoration and naturalisation of 11 coal mining sites in East Ayrshire (Table1) accounting for 909 hectares. Also two large airfields in Highland have been reclaimed for agriculture and together account for 599 hectares.

7.3 Some councils have seen large decreases in derelict land since 2015, Renfrewshire had a decrease of 83%. Clackmannanshire has seen a large percentage increase since 2015, but this is due to the small amount of derelict land in the base year of 2015.

7.4 The five councils with the largest amount of derelict land in 2021 are North Lanarkshire (1,204 ha), North Ayrshire (1,021 ha), East Ayrshire (825 ha), Dumfries and Galloway (731 ha) and Fife (598 ha). Together these councils account for more than half (58%) of all derelict land recorded in 2021.

7.5 The largest derelict sites recorded in the 2021 survey include:

  • Eastriggs former Ministry of Defence depot in Dumfries and Galloway (432 hectares)
  • A former explosives factory in Ardeer, North Ayrshire (332 hectares)
  • The Port of Arderseir in Highland (302 hectares)
Table 6 - Total Derelict Land by Planning Authority, 2015-2021 [Note 4] [Note 5] [Note 20] [Note 22] [Note 23] [Note 24]
Planning Authority 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Percentage Change 2015-2021
Aberdeen City 21 16 13 13 13 13 13 -41%
Aberdeenshire 34 38 45 43 42 41 48 40%
Angus 112 100 94 229 223 219 220 97%
Argyll and Bute 37 37 37 38 38 36 36 -3%
Clackmannanshire 12 54 48 46 41 41 41 235%
Dumfries and Galloway 475 477 321 321 314 740 731 54%
Dundee City 16 16 14 17 14 14 14 -12%
East Ayrshire 2,480 2,386 2,324 1,736 1,736 1,736 825 -67%
East Dunbartonshire 61 67 69 43 43 43 43 -30%
East Lothian 76 76 79 78 79 76 76 1%
East Renfrewshire 36 36 34 34 34 32 32 -12%
City of Edinburgh 96 96 91 88 87 86 80 -17%
Falkirk 108 163 210 208 194 185 190 76%
Fife 612 615 614 611 600 605 598 -2%
Glasgow City 641 640 621 580 530 541 515 -20%
Highland 1,276 1,276 1,276 1,276 1,276 1,276 588 -54%
Inverclyde 28 82 81 83 59 55 54 95%
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park 25 25 25 6 6 6 6 -76%
Midlothian 189 183 110 110 102 100 86 -55%
Moray 8 7 7 7 7 7 7 -16%
Na h-Eileanan Siar 1 1 1 * * - - -100%
North Ayrshire 1,129 1,127 1,147 1,098 1,011 1,027 1,021 -10%
North Lanarkshire 1,120 1,086 1,141 1,204 1,218 1,211 1,204 8%
Orkney Islands 39 39 39 32 32 32 32 -18%
Perth and Kinross 32 27 21 22 24 24 24 -25%
Renfrewshire 748 708 173 160 149 138 128 -83%
Scottish Borders 49 49 46 45 46 37 31 -36%
Shetland Islands 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 29%
South Ayrshire 75 81 81 96 110 109 93 24%
South Lanarkshire 340 296 306 296 291 282 273 -20%
Stirling 122 108 108 108 110 109 108 -12%
West Dunbartonshire 167 157 149 152 148 148 134 -20%
West Lothian 346 346 346 304 304 304 304 -12%
Scotland 10,516 10,420 9,676 9,091 8,887 9,280 7,561 -28%

General notes - at sections 3 and 4 apply.

Specific note 4 - during 2021, historical data for the years 2015-2020 were updated as a result of improved information. This included removing sites that should not have been included in previous years, adding sites that should have been included earlier and making any required changes to site size. Further information on this process is available in the Annex along with un-amended historical data for the survey years 2000-2014.

Specific note 5 - previous SVDLS bulletins have used different base years for percentage change and so these percentages should not be compared with those in previous bulletins.

Specific note 20 - Glasgow conducted a partial survey in 2021 and some sites were recorded as re-used but no new sites were added due to difficulty with resource for the survey. Dundee City and West Lothian have not updated their survey since 2019 so no new data is available on new site in 2021. Details of survey return rates back to 2015 are shown at Annex D.

Specific note 22 - most of the decrease in derelict land in 2021 has been due to the restoration and naturalisation of 11 former coal mining sites in East Ayrshire accounting for 909 hectares. Also two large airfields in Highland have been reclaimed for agriculture and together account for 599 hectares.

Specific note 23 - For the 2020 survey eight authorities (Aberdeen City, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, Highland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Ornkey Islands, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian) were unable to complete a survey mainly due to COVID-19 Pandemic related restrictions but also staffing issues and results have been rolled over from 2019. These return rates should be borne in mind when using and interpreting the figures for these authorities in the year 2020, when interpreting the Scotland total in 2020 and when comparing the 2020 figures to other years.

Specific note 24 - six authorities reported various impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on their survey return in 2021. More details are provided at sections 3 and 4. These impacts should be borne in mind when using and interpreting the figures for these authorities in the year 2021, when comparing the 2021 figure to other years and when interpreting the Scotland total for 2021.

7.6 Just over three quarters of all Scotland’s derelict sites are found within a settlement; the remaining quarter is within the countryside (Table 7). While the majority of derelict sites are located within settlements a larger area of derelict land is found outside of settlements with 54% of the area in the countryside.

7.7 North Lanarkshire has the largest number of settlement-based derelict sites with 313 recorded in 2021 and the largest amount of derelict land recorded within settlements in 2021 (816 hectares).

7.8 North Lanarkshire also has the largest number of countryside-based derelict sites with 85 (388 hectares) recorded in 2021. However, the largest area of derelict land in the countryside is in Dumfries and Galloway (776 hectares).

7.9 The average size of a derelict site in Scotland is 4 hectares. The average size of a countryside site is 10 hectares, while the average size of a settlement-based derelict site is 3 hectares.

7.10 Across Scotland as a whole 0.1% of all land is derelict. Glasgow City has the largest amount of derelict land in relation to the size of its administrative area (Chart 1). The figures for all councils can be found in Annex Table 3.

Chart 1 - Planning Authorities with the largest area of Derelict Land as a percentage of Local Authority administrative area, 2021 [Note 20] [Note 24]
A bar chart showing the top five local authorities with the largest area of derelict land as a percentage of the local authority administrative area. In order, largest first, they are Glasgow City, North Lanarkshire, North Ayrshire, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.

General notes - at sections 3 and 4 apply.

Specific note 20 - Glasgow conducted a partial survey in 2021 and some sites were recorded as re-used but no new sites were added due to difficulty with resource for the survey. Dundee City and West Lothian have not updated their survey since 2019 so no new data is available on new site in 2021. Details of survey return rates back to 2015 are shown at Annex D.

Specific note 24 - some authorities reported various impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on their survey return in 2021. More details are provided at sections 3 and 4. These impacts should be borne in mind when using and interpreting the figures for these authorities in the year 2021, when comparing the 2021 figure to other years and when interpreting the Scotland total for 2021.

Land areas were derived from the latest local authority boundaries produced by Ordnance Survey.

© Crown copyright and database right (2020). Ordnance Survey (OS Licence number 100024655).

Table 7 - Location and average size of Derelict Sites by Planning Authority, 2021 [Note 20] [Note 24]
In Settlement In Countryside Total
Planning Authority Area Percentage of authority's Derelict Land in settlements Sites Average Site Size Percentage of Scottish derelict land in settlements Area Percentage of authority's Derelict Land in countryside Sites Average Site Size Percentage of Scottish Derelict Land in countryside Area Sites Average Site Size
Aberdeen City 13 100 15 1 * - - - - - 13 15 1
Aberdeenshire 33 70 25 1 1 14 30 3 5 * 48 28 2
Angus 10 4 12 1 * 210 96 12 17 5 220 24 9
Argyll and Bute 8 22 6 1 * 28 78 2 14 1 36 8 4
Clackmannanshire 5 13 9 1 * 36 87 3 12 1 41 12 3
Dumfries and Galloway 504 69 46 11 14 226 31 13 17 6 731 59 12
Dundee City 14 100 17 1 * - - - - - 14 17 1
East Ayrshire 49 6 30 2 1 776 94 35 22 19 825 65 13
East Dunbartonshire 2 4 2 1 * 41 96 6 7 1 43 8 5
East Lothian 21 27 10 2 1 56 73 18 3 1 76 28 3
East Renfrewshire 30 95 20 1 1 2 5 1 2 * 32 21 2
City of Edinburgh 78 98 18 4 2 2 2 1 2 * 80 19 4
Falkirk 142 75 32 4 4 48 25 13 4 1 190 45 4
Fife 209 35 102 2 6 389 65 54 7 10 598 156 4
Glasgow City 479 93 234 2 14 36 7 5 7 1 515 239 2
Highland 133 23 58 2 4 454 77 30 15 11 588 88 7
Inverclyde 54 100 41 1 2 - - - - - 54 41 1
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park 3 41 5 1 * 4 59 1 4 * 6 6 1
Midlothian 55 64 20 3 2 30 36 11 3 1 86 31 3
Moray 7 100 6 1 * - - - - - 7 6 1
Na h-Eileanan Siar - - - - - - - - - - - - -
North Ayrshire 335 33 78 4 10 687 67 23 30 17 1,021 101 10
North Lanarkshire 816 68 313 3 23 388 32 85 5 10 1,204 398 3
Orkney Islands - - - - - 32 100 1 32 1 32 1 32
Perth and Kinross 11 44 17 1 * 14 56 29 * * 24 46 1
Renfrewshire 41 32 21 2 1 87 68 2 44 2 128 23 6
Scottish Borders 26 83 40 1 1 5 17 2 3 * 31 42 1
Shetland Islands 1 14 1 1 * 6 86 5 1 * 6 6 1
South Ayrshire 74 79 49 2 2 19 21 7 3 * 93 56 2
South Lanarkshire 126 46 70 2 4 147 54 23 6 4 273 93 3
Stirling 5 5 4 1 * 103 95 9 11 3 108 13 8
West Dunbartonshire 133 100 54 2 4 * * 1 * * 134 55 2
West Lothian 67 22 15 4 2 237 78 28 8 6 304 43 7
Scotland 3,483 46 1,370 3 100 4,078 54 423 10 100 7,561 1,793 4

General notes - at sections 3 and 4 apply.

Specific note 20 - Glasgow conducted a partial survey in 2021 and some sites were recorded as re-used but no new sites were added due to difficulty with resource for the survey. Dundee City and West Lothian have not updated their survey since 2019 so no new data is available on new site in 2021. Details of survey return rates back to 2015 are shown at Annex D.

Specific note 24 - six authorities reported various impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on their survey return in 2021. More details are provided at sections 3 and 4. These impacts should be borne in mind when using and interpreting the figures for these authorities in the year 2021, when comparing the 2021 figure to other years and when interpreting the Scotland total for 2021.

7.11 There were 617 sites listed with building remains as the single issue needing action before any new development. The category with the largest area is listed as having both building remains and possible left over chemicals/substances – 1,578 hectares (25% of total area) across 210 sites.

Table 8 - Derelict Land Characteristics, 2021 [Note 20] [Note 24]
Derelict Characteristics Area Percentage of Derelict Land with known characteristics Sites
Building remains 714 11% 617
Possible left over chemicals/substances 685 11% 225
Abandoned physical material (stone deposits, rubble etc.) 521 8% 150
Building remains and possible left over chemicals/substances 1,578 25% 210
Building remains and abandoned physical material (stone deposits, rubble etc.) 432 7% 135
Possible left over chemicals/substances and rubble, stone deposits and other material 1,166 18% 109
Building remains, possible left over chemicals/substances and abandoned physical material (stone deposits, rubble etc.) 1,314 21% 73
Total Derelict Land with known characteristics 6,411 100 1,519
Unknown 1,150 Not applicable 274
Total Derelict Land 7,561 Not applicable 1,793

General notes - at sections 3 and 4 apply.

Specific note 20 - Glasgow conducted a partial survey in 2021 and some sites were recorded as re-used but no new sites were added due to difficulty with resource for the survey. Dundee City and West Lothian have not updated their survey since 2019 so no new data is available on new site in 2021. Details of survey return rates back to 2015 are shown at Annex D.

Specific note 24 - six authorities reported various impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on their survey return in 2021. More details are provided at sections 3 and 4. These impacts should be borne in mind when using and interpreting the figures for these authorities in the year 2021, when comparing the 2021 figure to other years and when interpreting the Scotland total for 2021.

Contact

Email: planstats@gov.uk

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