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The Scottish Executive is taking forward a range of measures designed to strengthen and enhance public and community involvement at all stages of the planning system. Planning policy encourages the redevelopment of vacant sites and premises. The ability of local communities to develop vacant property or land depends on a number of factors, in particular ownership.
Does the minister agree that more should be done to give urban and rural communities the ability and powers to access vacant land and properties that can be used to benefit the community? We all have examples in our constituencies of local communities that have spent years jumping through hoops to access such sites. Is that not now an important issue that the minister must address urgently? Will the minister use this opportunity to put my mind at ease, given that a local government source has told me that, as part of the current planning review, a change in compulsory purchase powers has been ruled out from behind the scenes?
On Mr Lochhead's final point, he will be aware that we are considering proposals for a planning bill to be introduced later in this parliamentary session, so several discussions are going on at the moment.
Over the next two years, the Executive will make available £20 million to local authorities to try to deal with the issues that surround vacant and derelict land, so that it can be brought back into purposeful use by local communities. We will continue to monitor the operation to ensure that it is successful, but we acknowledge that where communities make proposals for derelict land, they will have to be considered.