Speaking at a Scottish Parliament debate on the Budget (Scotland) Bill yesterday afternoon, Cabinet Secretary John Swinney announced planned increases to Scottish Government budgets for 2013/14.

As well as a £48m package of additional funding for housing and the college sector, he confirmed a special £2m fund to bring vacant town centre properties back into use for residential purposes.

This £2m investment will support the emerging work of the Scottish Government’s National Town Centre Review. The Review is led by an External Advisory Group (EAG) chaired by the architect Malcolm Fraser. The EAG comprises a diverse group of town centre regeneration stakeholders, including SURF Chief Executive Andy Milne, Diarmaid Lawlor of Architecture + Design Scotland and Fiona Moriarty of the Scottish Business Consortium.

The £2m fund will support the EAG’s recommendations relating to a “living in town centres” investigation strand. SURF understands that the Scottish Government’s regeneration budget for 2013/14 will support the other strands currently under development.

Speaking after the announcement, Malcolm Fraser said: “What a nice start to the Review’s work. Assisting young couples, and single people, into vacant properties in the hearts of their communities brings life, love and money to the High Street. We expect the Government’s initiative to lever more investment into this critical area and look forward to working out details with them.”