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Community ownership should be mainstream across Scotland

Words: Laura Edgar
Community ownership / Shutterstock: 144653342

A ‘clear vision’ for how community ownership can become a mainstream way to deliver development and regeneration in Scottish communities should be established, the Scottish Land Commission has said.

Community ownership should also be a realistic option for urban and rural communities to acquire land and assets, and it is a means to delivering wider social and economic outcomes.

The recommendation features in Community Ownership and Community Right to Buy, a report prepared by the Scottish Land Commission for the Scottish Government. It follows a review of existing community right to buy mechanisms and community ownership available in Scotland, and aims to make community ownership planned and proactive, rather than reactive.

The report was informed by research led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), and considered the experience of community ownership over the last 25 years since the first buy out in Assynt in north west Scotland.

The commission said it will now work with the Scottish Government to bring interested stakeholders together to shape the policy tools and specific interventions needed to deliver the recommendations in the report. These 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 Scotland
  • considering longer-term sources of financial support for both capital costs and post-acquisition development
  • cupporting negotiated transfer of land as the norm, whilst streamlining right to buy processes.

Lorne Macleod, Scottish Land Commissioner, commented 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, green space, as a fundamental way to create more vibrant communities and regional economies.”

Roseanna Cunningham MSO, Scotland's cabinet secretary for land reform, added: “Community ownership, when done properly, has been shown time and again to deliver real benefits to communities, providing a long-term sustainable future for the land and assets acquired. I hope to see many more communities getting involved in the years ahead.”

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

Community Ownership and Community Right to Buy can be found on the Scottish Land Commission website (pdf).

Image credit | Shutterstock