Friday, 20 June 2014

Council to tackle gap sites

North Ayrshire Council has indicated it will use legal powers, where necessary, to bring back into use vacant sites around local towns.

Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston have a number of ‘gap sites’ where buildings have been demolished but owners have then failed to proceed with development projects, leaving the areas as derelict eyesores. the3towns understands that a number of such sites are in the ownership of one Irvine-based construction firm.

North Ayrshire as a whole has amongst the highest levels of vacant and derelict land in Scotland, including the sites of former major employers such as ICI at Ardeer and Shell in Ardrossan. Now, the local Council’s SNP administration has agreed a new approach to address the issue.

Meeting last week, the Council’s SNP Cabinet set-out plans to focus investment in vacant and derelict sites, support development by the private sector and consider the best use of legal powers to allow enforcement action where discussions with landowners have stalled and other avenues have been exhausted.

In addition, the Cabinet agreed to seek support from the Scottish Government’s Vacant and Derelict Land Fund to have North Ayrshire included in the area for which financial support is available.

Cllr Marie Burns, SNP Cabinet Member for Economy and Employment, said, “Many of the challenges we face are a result of the decline in traditional industries. The loss of companies such as ICI and Shell led to a legacy of vacant land. These empty sites are not simply an unpleasant reminder of lost jobs, they continue to exercise a negative effect to this day – affecting residents, businesses and potential investors and encouraging fly-tipping, overgrown vegetation and vandalism.”

Cllr Burns explained, “In the first instance we will make investment in vacant and derelict land a real priority, while supporting the private sector where we can.” However, the SNP councillor made clear that where every route to bring a site back into use had been tried but had failed, the Council will now “consider the legal powers available to us”.

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