MSP highlights existing powers to deal with derelict buildings

The dangers of derelict buildings was underlined in Lossiemouth last year.
The dangers of derelict buildings was underlined in Lossiemouth last year.

HOT ON THE HEELS of Moray Council’s decision to consider taking direct action against owners of derelict buildings and sites in Moray a move is being made to strengthen their position at the Scottish Parliament.

Highlands and Moray Labour MSP David Stewart has highlighted a Member’s Bill he introduced to the Parliament in 2014, seeking to provide additional powers for local authorities to recover their losses when dealing with such properties.

The extra powers were provided for in the Buildings (Recovery of Expenses)(Scotland) Bill – which became law in 2014.

Mr Stewart told insideMoray: “Too many buildings have been allowed to drift into disrepair and need urgent remedy.

“It is of course the owners’ responsibility to repair buildings. My Bill aims to enable councils to carry out desperately needed repairs whilst shifting the financial burden back to the owners themselves.

“I am optimistic that that Local Authorities will proactively use this new power to ensure they will not be out of pocket when stepping in to deal with building standards issues. This will mean they will feel more confident in carrying out repairs, hopefully leading to less repairs being delayed, scaled back or even cancelled due to concerns over cost recovery.

“Indirectly, it will hopefully also stimulate the repair and maintenance sector of the construction industry as more repairs will be carried out.”

The MSP said that he was well aware of local buildings that are defective or dangerous – several of these he saw personally when visiting every corner of his constituency.

He added: “In Moray for example, the local Authority could resort to the compulsory purchase of vacant or derelict buildings which have an adverse impact on their surroundings.

“Members of the council’s planning and regulatory services committee were told this week that 18 properties and areas of land had been identified as having an impact on the amenity of their neighbourhoods. I understand that these included dwellings, factory premises and industrial and commercial properties across Moray.

“Safety within the community is the priority, but we also have to remember the knock-on effects and the impact derelict and dangerous buildings can have on the tourist. If you want to leave a negative impression with the tourist of a location across the Highlands & Islands or Moray, then leaving a building in a poor state of repair is one way.

“I plan to write to the Chief Executives of our Local Authorities within the Highlands & Islands region, which includes Moray, just reminding them that they have the ‘Buildings (Recovery of Expenses) (Scotland) Bill’ to fall back on when dealing with this issue.”

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