Community ownership should be “realistic option” to acquire land and assets

Written by Michelle Rodger

Community ownership should become a normal and realistic option for communities to acquire land and assets, according to recommendations on community ownership in a recent report.

The report, prepared by the Scottish Land Commission, follows a review of existing community right to buy mechanisms and community ownership in Scotland.

Report authors make a number of recommendations to Scottish Ministers for the future of community right to buy; in particular, that community ownership should become a routine option for communities, so it is planned and proactive rather than reactive.

The report recommends that there needs to be a:

  • clear vision for how community ownership can become a mainstream way to deliver development and regeneration in urban and rural communities
  • recognition that community ownership is not an end in itself but a means to delivering wider outcomes
  • shift from community acquisition being driven either by specific problems or a reaction to land coming onto the market, to being planned and proactive.

Using research carried out by a team led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the report considered the experience of community ownership in Scotland over the last 25 years, since the first buy out in Assynt.

The Commission will now work with Scottish Government to bring interested stakeholders together to shape the policy tools and specific interventions needed to deliver the recommendations in the report that include:

• embedding community land and asset ownership into local place planning

• ensuring that targets for community ownership reflect the outcomes sought in both rural and urban communities

• ensuring support for community ownership transfers is provided across the whole geography of Scotland

• considering longer-term sources of financial support for both capital costs and post-acquisition development

• supporting negotiated transfer of land as the norm, whilst streamlining right to buy processes

Speaking about the report Lorne Macleod, Scottish Land Commissioner, said that community ownership and right to buy has developed significantly over the last 20 years.

“Community ownership is now seen as integral to regeneration and sustainable development in both rural and urban contexts in Scotland.

“It should be seen as normal and routine, as it is internationally, for a community to acquire and own land that could provide local housing, business development, community facilities, recreation facilities, greenspace, as a fundamental way to create more vibrant communities and regional economies.”

The Scottish Land Commission is now undertaking work looking at international experience of community land ownership to inform the long-term vision and delivery.

About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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