Community Asset Transfer
In 2009 the Scottish Government and COSLA published a Community Empowerment Action Plan. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 moves this forward.
The voluntary approach by the public sector has been replaced with the introduction of a right for Community Transfer Bodies to make requests to all local authorities, Scottish Ministers and a wide-ranging list of public bodies, for any land or buildings they feel they could make better use of. Community Transfer Bodies can request ownership, lease or other rights, as they wish. The Act requires those public authorities to assess requests transparently.
Ownership or control of land and buildings is a powerful tool for communities to drive change and achieve their own goals. It provides a base for activities and services that might not otherwise be accessible to members of an area. It can provide stability and sustainability for the community organisations, allowing them to develop new initiatives and support other developing groups, and it can create a stronger sense of community identify, cohesion and involvement.
Part 5 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 sets out the key rights and duties and provides a framework for the asset transfer process.
There is no legal requirement for all sales, leases and other arrangements with community bodies to go through the system provided by the Act. Where both parties are happy to make arrangements by negotiation, then they can continue to do so. For example, facilities that have routinely been made available for short term use by communities will continue to be made available through existing arrangements. Before you make an asset transfer request you are strongly advised to contact the Council's Community Asset Transfer team, who will advise you on any alternative options available to you.
To help Community Transfer Bodies identify assets that may be available through asset transfer, section 94 of Part 5 of the act requires each relevant authority to establish, maintain and make available a register of land which it owns or leases, “to the best of its knowledge and belief”.
Community Transfer Bodies are encouraged to start thinking about what they want their project to achieve. Then they can consider whether they need an asset to deliver their aims, and look for somewhere that will be suitable. This is highlighted in advice from the Community Ownership Support Services.
Community Asset Transfer Team