Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Two stories and the problem of derelicts – no easy answer

I noticed the proposal to introduce CSOs (Compulsory Sales Orders) a while ago…

Proposed Compulsory Sales Order seems less than helpful

Compulsory Sales Orders – Solving a problem, or just moving it along?

And had that little pair of rambles, hoping to gain a better understanding of the idea, but don’t really think it helped a lot.

I keep having the same reservation – if the places described are so good that either a compulsory sale (or maybe even purchase) was the easy answer, then the current owner would have taken advantage of what they had.

In reality, I suspect many of the properties concerned are money pits, either from the point of view of just owning them (with crippling maintenance, or cost of ownership), or would cost so much to restore or convert to repurpose that the whole thing is just uneconomic.

There is probably another option, where they could be successful or profitably repurposed, but the owner doesn’t have, or can’t raise, the capital needed to carry out the work.

Compulsory Sales Orders

Radical new powers allowing councils to order the sale of “eyesore” derelict sites and vacant land across Scotland are to be introduced, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Empty homes, abandoned shops, derelict hotels and gap sites could be among those targeted by the introduction of compulsory sale orders (CSOs) after planning minister Kevin Stewart said they would be introduced in the course of this Parliament.

The move to bring in CSOs by 2021 would allow councils to force owners to sell such sites at auction instead of allowing them to lie empty where they are seen to be causing “harm” to local communities by attracting problems such as anti-social behaviour.

However, there are concerns about whether councils will have the funding or expertise to bring forward such measures.

The CSO proposal was a key recommendation of the 2014 Land Reform Review Group.

Stewart has confirmed in a parliamentary answer the Scottish Government will introduce the orders by 2021 after proposals drawn up by the Land Commission.

Councils already have powers to buy land through CPOs, but this would involve the authority making the purchase itself, which it may not always have the funds to do. There is also a community “right to buy” for sustainable development, but it may not be appropriate for the smaller scale development envisioned for CSOs.

New powers will allow councils to order sale of Scotland’s derelict sites

It will be interesting to see how this works in reality.

I wonder if it would be appropriate for the following case?

I’m not suggesting a CSO would/should be applied, merely placing the two stories together here.

Historic house is a ‘rotten tooth waiting to be pulled’

Fears have been raised over the future of one of Aberdeen’s historic buildings.

Westburn House, an A-listed building designed by renowned architect Archibald Simpson, was built in 1839 but has lain empty for nearly two decades.

During that time it has fallen into a state of disrepair and is repeatedly attacked by vandals.

Local councillor Bill Cormie branded it a “rotten tooth waiting to be pulled”.

He told STV News: “Westburn House is in a dreadful state, it’s almost in a state of collapse.

“There has been nothing really done to this building for over the last 20 years now.

“I managed to get into it four years ago and it was pretty horrific at that time.

“I think last winter, when we had a hard snow, really killed the roof off with the snow lying on top of it and I believe most of the back end of it now has collapsed into the building itself.”

The building, in Westburn Park, has seen many uses over the years, serving as a home, a clinic, tearoom and a nursery.

In 2016, councillors approved plans by Elgin-based company Liberty Kids to turn it into a modern nursery, where youngsters would enjoy plenty of space to roam around outdoors. However, the project failed to move forward.

Historic house is a ‘rotten tooth waiting to be pulled’

I don’t really know enough of the details to suggest anything as regards this building.

But what does make me wonder is how the ability to impose any sort of compulsory order on it would help.

If owners/developers are skint, then forcing something to be done with no cash behind it seems unproductive.

It might make some work for somebody, but doesn’t do much for the building(s).

Maybe I’m just being too ‘simple’.

Westburn House, Westburn Park, Aberdeen

Westburn House, Westburn Park, Aberdeen

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09/01/2019 - Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , ,

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