Every Little Counts: Why Scotland’s Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme Adds Up

The Scottish Government launched the Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme (VDLIP) in 2019, providing £50 million to help bring small derelict sites back into use.

Round three of the five-year programme was launched in May. Applicants now have until 24th June to apply.  The fund is open to all Scottish local authorities and this year £10 million is up for grabs.

With the costs of land remediation often running into £millions, you might think a bid is not worth the effort.  Here are a few reasons to think again…

Small things can lead to bigger things.  The VDLIP is relatively small for a regeneration fund, but it could help you leverage other funding from elsewhere. With most funders now requiring at least some match funding, an award from the VDLIP could be just what you need to leverage the funds you need to make something big happen.

It can help demonstrate commitment to a net-zero approach to land-reuse. Reduce, reuse and recycle is a well-established policy mantra but until recently land was not really part of the equation. Now things seem to be changing.

The draft National Planning Framework places much more emphasis on land reuse than previous iterations. “Repurposing” is the third tier of the National Infrastructure Investment Plan’s investment hierarchy – and if the figures in the latest Vacant and Derelict Land Survey are to be believed, this policy shift is starting to feed through to the real world.

Funding tends to follow policy (in theory!) – so a net-zero approach to land-reuse could pay real dividends in the future.  A successful application to the VDLIP is a good way of demonstrating commitment to the approach.

It can be a catalyst for community action. The VDLIP is designed to support community-led action. While such projects can be tough to get off the ground, their returns, in terms of social value, can be huge. 

With pressures on local government finances unlikely to disappear any time soon, the ability to create value out of very little is increasingly important. By creating opportunities to co-create value with local communities, the VDLIP can help you to do this.

It can enable you to do something different.  One of the reasons some sites remain unused for so long is that they just don’t stack up financially. Unlike many larger funds, the VDLIP doesn’t require applicants to quantify financial returns or calculate cost/benefit ratios. Instead a holistic approach is taken to assessing a project’s contribution to place-making and wellbeing. 

This enlightened approach could open the door to all sorts of projects that deliver real value for communities but that might not perform well against traditional financial performance metrics.

Every little counts. So far the average award through the VDLIP has been around £500,000. Not much as far as regeneration projects go – but in the current climate who can afford to ignore £500,000?

Details of how to apply for the VDLIP can be found at the link below – and if you need any help or advice putting together an application then please give us a call.

Posted 07.06.22