HM Insights

Taking Solace in the fact that community ownership is coming

The theme for the Solace Scotland conference in Glasgow this week is Reimagining Leadership for the 21st Century: People, Place and Power.

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The role of local authorities in empowering our places and those who live in them is high on the agenda. One strand of this is empowering communities to develop their own places through community-led initiatives, making use of the community asset transfer rights under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and the Community Right to Buy under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (as amended).

Proposals on expanding community ownership

Here we take a look at some of the recommendations of the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) in a report published at the tail end of last year on expanding community ownership and community rights to buy.

The report follows on from the SLC's review of right to buy mechanisms and recommends that community ownership should become a normal and realistic option for communities in both urban and rural locations. The SLC suggest several measures to help achieve that, including:

  • Community ownership should be a designed part of community planning processes, rather than a reaction to changes in circumstances. Local Place Plans could be used as a mechanism to achieve this.
  • New indicators should be developed to replace the "million acres" target and better measure the progress of community ownership in Scotland.
  • Support equivalent to that provided to Highlands & Islands Enterprise should be made available across the whole of Scotland.
  • Case advice and support should be extended to landowners to facilitate negotiated transfers.
  • Communications designed to educate and raise awareness of community ownership should be issued to communities across Scotland.
  • A more proactive and strategic approach should be taken to the asset transfer obligations under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. Additional guidance on this is required for local authorities.
  • Consideration should be given to long term sourcing of funds and structure of public finance, as well as supporting private funding initiatives such as crowd funding, peer-to-peer lending and private finance, to meet the capital costs of acquisition and post-acquisition development.
  • The impact of tax and fiscal policy on the expansion of community land ownership should be reviewed.
  • Statutory rights to buy and asset transfer routes should be simplified and consolidated.

The SLC is continuing to undertake research into the international experience and other aspects affecting community land ownership to inform this vision and has begun to publish some of its findings, including on financing community ownership.

Our view – get in touch

In our experience, community ownership is increasing and our team has been at the heart of some of the most exciting community group developments and projects in recent years.

With offices in Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Elgin, Lerwick and Thurso, we are ideally positioned to work with communities and local authorities across Scotland so please get in touch to discuss any community ownership issues.