Community Asset Transfers
With the advent of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the opportunities for clubs and community organisations to undertake long-term leases and acquire facilities through ‘Community Asset Transfer’ will continue to increase over the coming years. This process will present many clubs and community based organisations with great opportunities to put down permanent roots and further develop their football plans with the comfort of security of tenure of their site. However, the process of acquiring long-term access to sites is often complex and demanding.
The purpose of this guidance is to provide advice and practical examples to clubs that are considering this approach and help you consider the ‘why’ and ‘are we ready’? Those clubs which are best placed to deliver a sustainable project will consider the type of asset they need, the type of tenure, and how to best to engage with their local community. If you feel that you can complement this with good governance, a clear business and club development plan, this may be an ideal time to develop your club, your home and your community.
What is a Community Asset Transfer?
A Community Asset Transfer occurs when a public sector body, usually a local authority, passes on the management and/or ownership of a facility to a community group.
Over recent years the legislative and national policy in Scotland has recognised the importance of, and been developed to support, strong, independent and resilient communities.
Community ownership and management of assets has been identified as having a role to play in this through inspiring people, creating opportunities and potentially transforming communities by helping them take even greater control of the land and buildings where they live.
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 gives appropriately constituted community groups the right to request the purchase, lease or use of land and buildings that belong to local authorities or another public body such as the NHS, Police and Fire Services or Forest Enterprise. There is a presumption of agreement to requests unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal.
Where an asset transfer request is made for below market value, the community group will be required to demonstrate the social, economic or environmental benefits that community ownership or management will bring.
The relevant authorities are required to create and maintain a public register of land that they own. This enables community groups to explore the options available to them.
Benefits of CATs
The transfer of assets to well-run community organisations can lead to a wide-range of benefits for everyone. These include:
More robust community organisations
Creating more confident and robust community organisations. Ownership of an asset can enable community organisations to develop diverse and long-term revenue streams under their own control, and thereby become more sustainable
Opening up alternative funding streams
Opening up access to alternative funding streams open to communities but not local authorities or the wider public sector
Increasing community cohesion
Assisting in increasing community cohesion and capacity through the involvement of local people in shaping and regenerating their communities
Creating new partnerships
Creating new partnership and collaborations at a local level. Where control of an asset lies closer to the local community, their group can become strong partners in local service delivery and be more likely to initiate collaboration in the future.
Ten steps to a successful Community Asset Transfer
Is there a clear sporting need?
What are the needs of your sports club? How will your club meet the needs of the transferring body?
What options have been considered?
Is a Community Asset Transfer the most effective way of realising the sites potential whilst protecting and safeguarding sporting and the community interest on the site?
Seek legal advice (FREE where possible)
Early professional advice will help protect the club’s interests.
Agree outline objectives between all parties
Set out in broad terms the expectations of each organisation and speak to potential funders about the suitability of the site in terms of their funding criteria.
Set realistic time scales
Ensure that your club are afforded the time to work up realistic and deliverable proposals.
Develop a business plan and feasibility study
You need to demonstrate a sustainable solution for the club and the site.
Openly consult stakeholders
Jointly assess the strategic need for the facility and proposed use with relevant stakeholders (this helps to align the political, policy and community support). It may be appropriate to seek support from other clubs or the relevant league.
Manage the risk
Protect the club by not executing the legal terms until a sustainable solution is agreed and achieved in light of independent legal and financial advice.
Protect the asset
The site should remain open and current levels of operation/subsidy maintained whilst negotiating an alternative solution.
Adopt a partnership approach
Can the local authority support you by providing access to specialist support (project managers, grant funding officers) small grants for feasibility and professional fees, high quality historical site information, maintenance contributions, low rent, procure any capital works and capital investment as a lever for external investment?