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November 28, 2018

Driving forward land reform

Prior to the establishment of the Scottish Land Commission, there had been concerns that the momentum behind land reform might drift despite the best efforts of campaigners and community land owners. After all, it had happened in the years following the first legislation in 2003. But since the Land Commissioners were appointed last year, a huge amount of work has been undertaken and land reform now seems firmly embedded in the policy landscape. Latest publication is a set of seven recommendations to Ministers which if implemented would make community ownership of land the new normal.


Scottish Land Commission

Community ownership should become routine option for communities across Scotland, says new report

Community ownership should become a normal and realistic option for communities to acquire land and assets, according to recommendations on community ownership published today Friday 23 November, 2018.

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

The report makes 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.

Informed by research 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, commented that community ownership and right to buy has developed significantly over the last 20 years and said, “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.”

Land Reform Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“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.  

“It has been great to see such an increase in community ownership in recent years, thanks to the success of some amazing local groups working with the Scottish Government. This is unlocking potential in our urban, rural and island communities and giving local people a say in their future, and I hope to see many more communities getting involved in the years ahead.”

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