Hopes new law will prompt waste land clean-up

Residents in front of the Corn Exchange plot. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Residents in front of the Corn Exchange plot. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
2
Have your say

RESIDENTS fed up with an overgrown, rubbish-strewn piece of ground in the heart of their community hope a new law will help them force the landowner to clean up the site.

Residents of Chesser have reached the end of their tether, with the 1.5-acre plot in front of the Corn Exchange on Chesser Avenue lying neglected for years.

Now they hope moves to give communities power to compulsorily purchase land in certain circumstances will put pressure on owners, auctioneering company John Swan Ltd.

Mike Sutherland, of the Chesser Green residents’ association, said everyone in the area was fed up with the sight of the plot.

He said: “It’s an eyesore. It’s always full of rubbish and the weeds grow as high as the railings. Some people with young children are scared about their kids going on to the land because you don’t know what’s in there.

“If the owners aren’t going to use the land, they could at least keep it properly.”

The area is designated as open space in the local plan and proposals to build an Aldi supermarket on the site were turned down in October 2007.

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said there were currently no effective powers for the council to intervene unless there were health and safety issues. However, new legislation proposed by the Scottish Government includes compulsory powers for communities to acquire neglected or abandoned buildings or land.

Cllr Corbett said: “This land is in a fantastic site setting in the heart of Hutchison-Chesser.

“In the past, it’s been a real asset to the community and local businesses, used for everything from sheep-grazing to Highland games.

“But for years now, it has been neglected, weed-choked and litter-strewn.

“It is now a real eyesore, with the private owners doing little to respond to residents’ complaints, apart from the occasional cursory clear-up, when pushed into doing so.

“The community right to buy has worked in rural Scotland and the current Bill would extend it to urban Scotland.

“If a community right to compulsory purchase for neglected land did come into law I believe that the Corn Exchange is one of dozens of blighted sites across the city where the owners would have to think very hard about putting in place some decent maintenance and care.”

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill would extend existing community rights to buy from rural areas to urban communities.

It includes a community right to request to buy or use property, which would allow underused or unused public sector assets to be taken over by community bodies; a compulsory right for communities to buy land for community use; compulsory powers for communities to acquire neglected or abandoned buildings or land more generally; and community rights in relation to allotments provision.

The city council has given its backing to the principles of the bill.