Saturday, 11 August 2012

Real action required on Dundee's derelict buildings

The deteriorating condition of Queen Victoria Works
As reported in The Courier today, I have welcomed the City Council’s announcement that it is resurrecting the working party to look at derelict buildings in the city, but have said it requires more input from outside the City Council itself.

Many months ago, I raised the need to resurrect a group to tackle empty and derelict buildings in the city with the Chief Executive of Dundee City Council, and was pleased that he agreed to my request.   However, we need to see real action on this issue and I do feel that any working group to tackle this issue should have greater representation – not just from elected members of the City Council but also from those that can bring real expertise to the issue such as the Tayside Building Preservation Trust.    

We need to see this properly tackled because the last time the council had a working group on this issue, its outcomes were limited and little was achieved.

I have already given the Chief Executive and Director of City Development a list of properties in the West End Ward that require to be tackled in terms of getting them back into productive use and brought up to standard and, if replicated in numbers in other wards across the city, would mean in excess of seventy properties across Dundee that require to be urgently addressed.    

Properties in the West End Ward include the former Queen Victoria Works building that is in a very poor state of repair.

Getting some momentum behind this process is vital and I will be keeping a close eye on the progress the working group makes in the coming months.   Derelict and neglected buildings – particularly those of historical significance – are an issue very regularly raised by constituents and it is vital that Dundee City Council now takes a proactive approach to tackling them.

I was on Radio Tay News regarding this issue this morning - click 'play' below to listen:
E-mail to councillors from the City Council's Director of City Development on this subject, from earlier this week:

Sent: 09 August 2012 10:15

Dear Councillor

The issue of derelict properties within the city is one which is causing increasing public concern.  There are a variety of legal powers available to the Council under the Planning, Housing, Environmental Protection and Civic Government Acts and Building and Listed Building Regulations which may be appropriate to address some of these issues, but a corporate approach is needed to ensure coordinated action.  

Previously, the Council had established a working group of officers from different Departments to examine properties falling into this category and suggest action through the various different areas of legislation that may be appropriate.  It is proposed, therefore, to re-establish such a group to examine the issues.

The group will seek to use formal powers and other means to encourage owners to improve their properties, the Group will be chaired by myself.  Where any action requires formal approval, a report will come before the relevant Committee for consideration.

Property or issues for consideration by the Group can be suggested via a number of routes (eg by the public, by Departments themselves or through the LCPPs); if any Elected Members wishes to advise of a derelict property they would wish to be investigated, they should do so via myself.  The scale of the derelict property issue is such that our efforts will require to be focused on priority sites and one of the first tasks of the Group will be to determine the basis on which priorities are agreed.

Director of City Development
Dundee City Council