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April 10, 2013

Unlocking underused land

In recent years there’s been an explosion in demand from communities for land to cultivate for growing food or just gardening for pleasure. But while there’s no shortage of underused land that could be put to such use, landowners – both public and private – have generally been reluctant to cooperate. Many concerns they cite are perfectly reasonable but not necessarily insurmountable. An excellent new resource from CLAS might just be the answer.


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A new Guide aiming to encourage Scotland’s landowners to make more land available for community growing was welcomed by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, at an event at the Scottish Parliament on March 7, 2013.

The Guide For Landowners, produced by the Community Land Advisory Service in Scotland, provides comprehensive information and advice to help landowners play their part in the surge in community gardening and food growing across Scotland.

The publication is a response to recent evidence, including research conducted by Scotland’s Grow Your Own Working Group (GYOWG), which shows community groups can struggle to find land in order to expand and strengthen the capacity of their local community. Meanwhile, many landowners are keen to support such projects, but lack the knowledge of how to go about it, are worried about statutory responsibilities or find the process of lease negotiations too daunting.

The Guide has been created to provide key information on issues such as site suitability, leases, planning and land use and the law. It was written by the Community Land Advisory Service in conjunction with the Grow Your Own Working Group, Scottish Land & Estates and The Scottish Government.

Helen Pank, who manages CLAS in Scotland, said: “The demand for land for community use has grown enormously in Scotland over recent years. There are many innovative schemes which make use of even the most unlikely space. But there is still a need to make more land available. We wanted to create a guide which would give landowners the information they need to make a clear, informed choice, to debunk some of the myths about community land users and to demonstrate the benefits of allowing community use of their land.”

Paul Wheelhouse said: “I very much welcome the publication of the Guide For Landowners.  It is particularly apt during Climate Week, which inspires action for a sustainable future.  I hope the Guide will also serve as inspiration and encouragement for landowners, both private and public, to consider use of their land for food-growing purposes within their communities. Giving people the opportunity to grow food creates many potential rewards for landowners, a more sustainable future for Scotland and a better quality of life for its people.  This publication will be a key element in unlocking that potential.”

Sarah-Jane Laing, Director of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates added: “Private landowners have an excellent track record for providing land for allotments and a practical guide has been eagerly sought, especially given the current public demand for community growing spaces. This guide assists landowners to consider the different options available and points landowners in the best direction for professional advice. The guide should alleviate any misconceptions or fears about letting for community growing and give landowners reassurance about the processes involved.”