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Dave Chapman
Community-owned
Places and Spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to
Dave Chapman
Dave has worked across the private, public and voluntary sectors
over the last 25 years. He is an experienced...
Community-owned
Places and Spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to
Dave Chapman
3
Forty years ago most towns, villages and neighbourhoods had a
collection of local shops and services that the community co...
Introduction						6
What are community-owned assets?		 12
Why acquire a community asset?			 24
How do you get or create a ...
6
Community-owned
Places and Spaces
It’s been said that the majority of the land in the UK
is owned by just 0.36% of the pop...
Community assets are the places where local people meet, work,
run errands, shop, access support and socialise. They inclu...
We all know the places that are of particular value to our
communities; the old town hall, the local park or the library. ...
Shanklin Theatre and Community Trust
When the unitary authority on the Isle of
Wight proposed demolishing Shanklin
Theatre...
Photo © Shanklin Theatre and Community Trust
12
What are
community-owned
assets?
This section looks at the characteristics of
community-owned assets and should help
you i...
ShopTheatre
Hall
What do they
have in common?
Ownership
They are owned and managed by a
community-based organisation.
Sust...
Photo © Handmade Bakery.
Handmade Bakery,
Slaithwaite, Yorkshire,
a pioneering
community bakery.
Community-based
organisations
Ownership
Management
Many community-based organisations opt for a common ownership.
In this ...
Most community-based organisations also describe both the
community they are seeking to benefit and how they are trying
to...
Isle of Eigg
Tired of being bought and sold by successive absentee
landlords, in 1997 the inhabitants of the Isle of Eigg ...
Photo © Philipp Clarin
Choosing the right legal entity is important and can have
long-term implications for your organisation and the asset it
cr...
Industrial and Provident Society
	– incorporated with a set of rules as the governing document,
with a board or management...
There are lots of good sources of information about
choosing the right legal structure and organisation
type for what you ...
Photo © Itteringham Village Shop
Itteringham Village Shop, set up as
an Industrial and Provident Society
for the benefit o...
COMMUNITY
SHOP
24
Why acquire a
community asset?
This section looks at the main reasons why people
get together to try to acquire an asset, ...
Reasons to acquire
a community asset
Sometimes people want to work together to ensure that a significant
building or an im...
In other cases communities seek to develop their own assets
(community housing, employment space, play areas etc.) through...
It’s all about the benefits!
Volunteering on a regular basis leads to a greater understanding
of your community and how it...
there is often an improvement in the local environment, particularly
when the building or land gets refurbished etc.
Most ...
Carn Brea Leisure centre
Opened in 1974, Carn Brea Leisure centre was an important
facility for local people in Redruth, C...
Photo © Carn Brea Leisure Centre
FINISH!
START!
32
How do you
get or create a
community asset?
There are many different routes to securing and
developing a community-owned a...
Gather information
Whatever you are trying to do – save a building, find a building
or develop new buildings - the first t...
You’ll already have identified the need your project is responding to,
but you’ll still need to know:
• Who owns the build...
Work together
The importance of collaboration cannot be understated. Whilst
it’s possible to be bloody-minded and do it on...
Go legal – develop
the organisation
At some point you will need to set up a legal entity to reduce
your liability. You wil...
Create a network
Acquiring, and developing, community-owned assets is not
something that you can do on your own. It almost...
Hulme Community Garden Centre,
Manchester has 150 regular volunteers
and 5000 people have been involved
in the project sin...
Photo © Phil Gammon
Ivy House Pub
In April 2012, drinkers at the Ivy House pub in Nunhead, south
London, were told that last orders in five da...
Developing your plan
There are many resources that can be used to help you develop
your plan – those listed at the end of ...
Feasibility and viability:
test your plan
At some point it will be necessary to build a case for acquiring
an asset. In sh...
Finance - raise money
Whilst there are some community asset transfers that have
secured the freehold of a new asset, fit f...
Whilst it may be hard to come by, there are people in many
communities who may be willing to offer funds to get you starte...
Negotiate
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate and then negotiate some more!
It’s easy to take ‘No’ for an answer and give up. ...
Having faced closure, the King’s Arms
Shouldham is now a community-owned
pub (and cafe), thanks to a share offer
that allo...
Valleys Kids
The Rhondda Valley has the highest rate of teenage
pregnancy in the UK, 12,000 of its young people
are not in...
Photo © Valleys Kids
50
Using the right
mechanism
There are a number of legal rights
and mechanisms that can help your
community acquire building,...
Communities have a number of rights and mechanisms they can
use to acquire assets, land, or bid to run services. Which rig...
the water and determine whether the business or service generates
sufficient surpluses to cover the costs associated with ...
There are a number of community rights in England which, while
they don’t necessarily lead to the acquisition of assets, m...
The Community Right to Challenge allows community-based
organisations (and a range of other groups and organisations) the
...
The Right to Contest allows communities, businesses and local
authorities the right to challenge Government to sell land i...
Community Right to Reclaim Land - www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving-
people-more-power-over-what-happens-in-their-neig...
Photo © Doreen Wood
Braemar Castles
Braemar Community Ltd was founded in 2004, and until 2007 its
focus was mainly on impr...
60
Community-led
Development
Community ownership of assets includes
acquiring existing buildings or land but many
communities...
Getting started
For communities wishing to build new houses,
workspaces or community facilities, the process
they follow i...
63
It’s impossible to cover all of the elements of work that you
may need to complete during this phase but the following
com...
Undertaking feasibility work and assessing the viability of your
scheme are going to be key elements of the pre-developmen...
During the pre-development phase you will also need to develop the
business plan. This includes both a plan for finances t...
A key element in many community-led developments is planning.
If you need a planning consent to undertake your project, it...
Although following the conventional route (submitting a planning
application to the local planning authority) will still b...
• Submitting a Community Right to Build Order: after the
Community Right to Build Order has been drawn up, it must be
appr...
Whilst not an immediately obvious route to follow, both
Neighbourhood Development Plans and Neighbourhood
Development Orde...
Neighbourhood Development Orders
	A Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) sets out the kind
of developments permitted in a...
Limavady Community Development Initiative
One of the largest community groups in Northern Ireland, the
Limavady Community ...
How might Neighbourhood Development Plans and Neighbourhood
Development Orders help groups seeking to build new facilities...
Creative community engagement.
Photo © Eden Project community engagement
Land acquisition by community-based organisations is not easy (the
same goes for acquiring redundant and derelict building...
the acquisition of the land, they set out the route to be followed and
offer the possibility of acquiring it. The types of...
78
How to make
community-owned
assets sustainable
Sustainability should be one of the key attributes
of any community-based o...
Clearly, to be an asset (rather than a liability!) a community-
owned business or service should contribute towards the
lo...
A community that owns assets can anticipate and adapt quickly to
change. It can also shape its own future. Community-owned...
The risks
Getting involved in the community ownership of assets is not
without its risks.
The key risk is that your organi...
Westmill Solar, the UK’s first and the
world’s largest cooperatively run,
community-owned solar farm.
Photo © Westmill Sol...
Ashley Vale Action Group
It wasn’t the prospect of more houses, but the
question of who was going to build them that
spurr...
86
Conclusion
87
Teacher (F)
To sum up...
88
Many communities have found community asset ownership
to be a game changer because it allows communities to
develop in a w...
Notes
How do ordinary people get access
to land or buildings to run businesses,
offer services, generate energy or
build houses?...
An Eden Project Field Guide to community-owned places and spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to community-owned places and spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to community-owned places and spaces
An Eden Project Field Guide to community-owned places and spaces
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An Eden Project Field Guide to community-owned places and spaces

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How do ordinary people get access to land or buildings to run businesses, offer services, generate energy or build houses? Community-owned assets can help make a community socially, environmentally and above all, economically viable. This guide offers an introduction to acquiring a community asset – a building or a piece of land – as the first major step towards creating the community you want to live in.
This field guide was published by the Eden Project as part of its Big Lunch Extras programme. Find out more at www.biglunchextras.com

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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An Eden Project Field Guide to community-owned places and spaces

  1. 1. Dave Chapman Community-owned Places and Spaces An Eden Project Field Guide to
  2. 2. Dave Chapman Dave has worked across the private, public and voluntary sectors over the last 25 years. He is an experienced practitioner and supporter of community enterprises with specific skills in community-led development, brokerage and negotiation around property deals, strategic planning, business planning and organisational development as well as programme and project management. Dave now fully pursues his passion for supporting community-led development through Triformis Limited. Triformis believe that people, passion and a plan are the three key things to get things done in neighbourhoods, communities and organisations. Often all three elements exist but are not in balance. Supporting and facilitating the balance is what we are about. dave@triformis.co.uk About the author Eden Project Publications Published by Eden Project Publications © 2015. Designed by Judy Caley and Paul Barrett. Edited by Robert Lowe, Juliet Rose and Mike Petty. This book has been produced for the Big Lunch Extras programme — the Eden Project’s way of supporting and enabling people to become more active within their communities and deliver the social change they want to see. 2
  3. 3. Community-owned Places and Spaces An Eden Project Field Guide to Dave Chapman 3
  4. 4. Forty years ago most towns, villages and neighbourhoods had a collection of local shops and services that the community could rely on – a few still have. But the current economic climate means that many communities now face a stark choice between losing a shop, business or service or delivering it themselves. As councils divest themselves of libraries and other assets in order to balance the books, communities are being asked to fill the gaps. It’s a big ask – but some communities have already begun to do this, some have been doing it for years. There are now legal rights and mechanisms to help make it easier for more communities to do the same. Community businesses are at the heart of their communities. They exist because their communities want and need the services they provide, not because there is a profit to be had, or a resource to be exploited. Their close proximity to the communities they serve means that they can learn and adapt quickly to change. But to offer a service, run a business, generate energy, or build houses you usually need buildings or land. Community-owned assets can help make a community socially, environmentally and above all, economically viable. This guide offers an introduction to acquiring a community asset – a building or a piece of land – as the first major step towards creating the community you want to live in. We asked Dave Chapman to write this guide because he is a passionate advocate for community regeneration and he understands better than most just how transformative community assets can be. With over 25 years experience of working with and for communities Dave knows the landscape from grassroots to government and back again. He has been a volunteer, a trustee and more recently worked for Locality. He now has his own consultancy Triformis. The Eden Team Foreword 4
  5. 5. Introduction 6 What are community-owned assets? 12 Why acquire a community asset? 24 How do you get or create a community asset? 32 Using the right mechanism 50 Community-led development 60 How to make community-owned assets sustainable 78 Conclusion 86 Contents 5
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. Community-owned Places and Spaces It’s been said that the majority of the land in the UK is owned by just 0.36% of the population. So, how do ordinary people get access to land and/or buildings to create community, to call home, to grow food, to generate energy, and to play in? Thanks to changes in legislation, communities can now get to grips with some of these problems and find ways to provide homes at affordable prices (both to buy and to rent), create new jobs that enable our communities to sustain themselves, and provide vital community services and facilities without relying on dwindling public funding. In short, local people are answering the challenge of how we can make our communities sustainable and resilient places to live, work and play. The aim of this guide is to explore, in a very broad way, what community ownership of assets is about and give you an idea of what is required and provide some examples of communities that have led the way. 7
  8. 8. Community assets are the places where local people meet, work, run errands, shop, access support and socialise. They include pubs, launderettes, post offices, child-care centres, play areas and parks, offices – the list is almost endless. These businesses and services are important for a healthy community because they provide places where people can meet, make use of a service or engage in meaningful activity, and in so doing help create a sense of community. Without them, it’s hard to see how a community can thrive. In the majority of cases these assets are run as profit-making businesses or provided through public services. Some of them are free to use whilst others are clearly not. Over the course of the past few years many of these spaces and services have been threatened with closure as a result of the downturn in the economy, because they are commercial businesses that are unable to make a profit or lack public funds to keep them running. Why are community assets important? 8
  9. 9. We all know the places that are of particular value to our communities; the old town hall, the local park or the library. There may also be places with great potential too, for example a redundant cinema that could become a community space, a derelict area of land that could be used for homes or a vacant shop unit that could become a community art gallery (even if for just a few months). For them to become community-owned assets, they need to owned or managed by the community itself. But communities are not just about the businesses and services that are on offer. People need places to live as well. People are starting to realise that housing is a community asset. Rising house prices mean that first-time buyers and people on low incomes cannot afford to buy or rent near where they work. Rather than wait for the market to respond, people are stepping up to ensure that they can support the housing needs of their communities. What can communities do? 9
  10. 10. Shanklin Theatre and Community Trust When the unitary authority on the Isle of Wight proposed demolishing Shanklin Theatre and selling the land in 2008, local residents began a campaign to save it. Shanklin Theatre Action Group (STAGE) managed to get English Heritage to list the building which meant it couldn’t be demolished. Then, with the help of the town council the ownership of the theatre was transferred to a community trust in 2013. The theatre is run by a separate company owned by the trust and the town council, without any public subsidies and with the help of local volunteers. The trust has also been able to acquire other assets including the local library. It’s not the first time the community has had a stake in the site; the land was originally a gift to the community from the Lord of the Manor, and the first building on the site – now the theatre’s box office – was a reading room paid for by public subscription. www.shanklintheatreandcommunitytrust.co.uk
  11. 11. Photo © Shanklin Theatre and Community Trust
  12. 12. 12
  13. 13. What are community-owned assets? This section looks at the characteristics of community-owned assets and should help you identify whether you want to develop a community-owned asset. 13
  14. 14. ShopTheatre Hall What do they have in common? Ownership They are owned and managed by a community-based organisation. Sustainability Purpose They are sustainable or trying to be (this may relate more to the community-based organisation than the community asset, but the relationship between them is so strong it’s often one and the same thing). It is not about the building or land, it’s about what they offer. Services and activities that respond to local need, and are open to all, are what makes a building or piece of land a real asset to its community. Despite the many different types of community-owned assets, there are three things they tend to have in common. Every community is different, so it stands to reason that there is an equally wide range of community-owned assets. These include houses, pubs, shops, swimming pools, offices, piers, cinemas, community halls, car parks, and many other examples. Deeds 14
  15. 15. Photo © Handmade Bakery. Handmade Bakery, Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, a pioneering community bakery.
  16. 16. Community-based organisations Ownership Management Many community-based organisations opt for a common ownership. In this case the organisation has a membership, where the members of the organisation (those people who subscribe to the governing documents) cannot personally have access to the assets and resources of the organisation (i.e. they can’t profit personally from the buildings and money the organisation owns, although some people do have paid jobs). They are held indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members. The two main forms of management structure are collective and representational. In a collective management structure all the members serve on the governing body, whilst in a representational management structure there is a larger membership who elect a smaller group of members to serve on a governing body. If a community wants to own and/or operate a community asset, then it must form a community-based organisation first. A community-based organisation is any organisation which is not for personal profit, and which seeks to involve a defined community in its strategic development, policy making, management and activities. A community-based organisation can take a number of different forms and must be a legally- recognised entity. Whilst there are a number of different types of legal structure available to community-based organisations, the type chosen is generally determined by how it will be owned and how it will be managed. 16
  17. 17. Most community-based organisations also describe both the community they are seeking to benefit and how they are trying to benefit that community. Commonly a community is defined around a place such as a neighbourhood, an estate or a town. However, there are also ‘communities of interest’. These are communities that share the same characteristic, for example age, gender, an issue people feel strongly about (e.g. climate change), or a common need (e.g. housing). Participation – more than just being a member Organisational forms By empowering people to get involved in the day-to-day activities of the organisation, as users and/or volunteers, community-based organisations can help local people to discover the connections between each other and their community. The connections between people reveal the common ground in a community, allowing them to be clear what that community is about, what being involved in the community can offer and recognise the importance of involving local people. It builds trust between the members of a community and helps them find common and collective ways to make the most of the opportunities and meet the challenges their community faces. Community-based organisations include charities, community enterprises, co-operatives, development trusts, and tenants and residents associations. The form an organisation takes describes and defines the underlying purpose of the business activity it undertakes (for example charities work for the benefit of their beneficiaries, whilst a co-operative does business for the benefit of its members), how it goes about its business (its values) and what sector it operates in (for example community enterprise or food co-operative). Each of these different forms has advantages and disadvantages and you will need to choose a legal form that is compatible with the aims of your organisation and its ambitions for the asset it intends to create or acquire. 17
  18. 18. Isle of Eigg Tired of being bought and sold by successive absentee landlords, in 1997 the inhabitants of the Isle of Eigg decided to become their own landlords and effected the first community buy-out of an island. With the support of both the local community and people with a connection to the island, Eigg formed a Heritage Trust. Now in charge of its own destiny, the island is investing in its future, setting up the first fully renewable grid in the world using solar, wind and hydro power in place of the diesel it used to rely on. It’s not a limitless supply so islanders voluntarily limit their consumption at any one time. But it’s not just renewable energy that is helping the island make progress, its population is on the increase for the first time in years, as more housing and job opportunities become available. www.isleofeigg.net
  19. 19. Photo © Philipp Clarin
  20. 20. Choosing the right legal entity is important and can have long-term implications for your organisation and the asset it creates or acquires to run its services. Below is a brief outline of some of the key features of community organisations – be aware it is not legal advice! Talk to a solicitor and explore the options before you make a decision. It is necessary to choose a legal structure for a community-based organisation in order to define who is responsible for the organisation, as well as who does the practical things like set up a bank account. The legal form of an organisation covers issues such as personal liability (how much you might be personally liable for the organisation’s debts if it goes bankrupt), who owns it, how it is funded (and the kind of funding it can get), governance (how it is run) and what it can do with its profits. Most community-based organisations choose a legal form that means they are ‘incorporated’. This means they form an entity which has its own separate legal personality. The organisation can then do business and enter into contracts in its own name. There are a number of different legal forms that a community- based organisation can take – they include: Legal forms Association – unincorporated and normally governed by a constitution with a governing body accountable to a wider membership and it may be a registered charity. Company Limited by Guarantee – incorporated with memorandum and articles of association as the governing documents, with a Board of Directors accountable to a wider membership; may be a registered charity if it meets the criteria. Registered with Companies House. Community Interest Company - incorporated with a memorandum and articles of association as the governing documents. Registered with Companies House. Cannot be a charity. 20
  21. 21. Industrial and Provident Society – incorporated with a set of rules as the governing document, with a board or management committee accountable to a wider membership. There are two types of IPS, a co-operative and a society for the benefit of the community. Registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Trust - unincorporated with a deed of trust (or trust deed) as the governing document, the trustees are the governing body and the membership. May be registered as a charity if the criteria are met. A social enterprise isn’t a type of legal entity and the term ‘social enterprise’ doesn’t describe how it’s run or whose benefit it is run for. A social enterprise can take any number of different forms including a charity, a co-operative and even a sole-trader, along with many others. “Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. And so when they profit, society profits.” Social Enterprise UK www.socialenterprise.org.uk A word on social enterprises 21
  22. 22. There are lots of good sources of information about choosing the right legal structure and organisation type for what you want to do. GOV UK advice on legal forms for businesses - www.gov.uk/government/publications/legal-forms-for-business-a-guide Advice on legal forms for nonprofits - knowhownonprofit.org/basics/setting-up-a-charity/legal-forms-for- nonprofits-1 Cooperative UK legal structure selection tool - www.uk.coop/our-work/select-structure-tool UnLtd legal structures for social enterprises - unltd.org.uk/portfolio/3-7- determining-the-right-legal-structure-for-yoursocial-enterprise GOV UK advice on Community Interest Companies - www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-regulator- of-communityinterest-companies Or why not make a trip to your local Council for Voluntary Services? Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations – www.scvo.org.uk Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action – www.nicva.org Wales Council for Voluntary Action – www.wcva.org.uk National Association for Voluntary and Community Action – www.navca.org.uk History of community-owned assets There’s a long history of communities owning their own assets. To find out more and get ideas see: locality.org.uk/resources/history-community-asset-ownership Further reading and resources 22
  23. 23. Photo © Itteringham Village Shop Itteringham Village Shop, set up as an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community.
  24. 24. COMMUNITY SHOP 24
  25. 25. Why acquire a community asset? This section looks at the main reasons why people get together to try to acquire an asset, and describes a few of the more obvious benefits. 25
  26. 26. Reasons to acquire a community asset Sometimes people want to work together to ensure that a significant building or an important piece of land is not lost to the community. Often these buildings have a place in the local ‘psyche’ of the community and come with a strong emotional attachment. This can be a good thing, because it motivates people to do something, but it’s also important not to be blinded by emotion. At some stage you will need to be critical and dispassionate in order to assess the feasibility and viability of saving or looking after the building (see the next chapter for more on this). In many cases saving a building starts with a campaign of some form, and ends up with a formal legal group (either an existing group or one being developed especially for the purpose) taking on ownership of the asset. Whilst some of the community assets acquired through this campaigning route house services and activities that are managed and run by the organisation that develops as a result of the campaign, many are simply let to others to use. Communities can provide many of the services they require, but they usually need land or buildings to operate these services from. There are generally three main reasons for acquiring or creating a community asset: • to save a building or look after a building that is at risk. • to have a space from which to run a service. • to develop new spaces to live, work and play. To save or look after a building Space to run a service from 26
  27. 27. In other cases communities seek to develop their own assets (community housing, employment space, play areas etc.) through some form of community-led development. This is often a response to a need for affordable housing for local people, for business spaces that local businesses can afford, and for better community facilities. The aim of these groups is to bring land or buildings forward for development or redevelopment. Although the initial emphasis is on buildings or land, in the majority of cases, what the building or land is used for becomes as important as the building or land itself. The service and the asset become integral to each other, which means is that both the service and the asset have a chance to be financially sustainable; the service needs the asset as a place to run from, while the service provides an income to help sustain the asset. Of course, the truth is that buildings and land cost money even if they are empty or unused - and when they are used those costs increase. So, community assets only really work if they have uses that generate enough to pay for and sustain themselves. For this reason what the building or land is used for is often more important than the building or the land itself. To develop new spaces for a community 27
  28. 28. It’s all about the benefits! Volunteering on a regular basis leads to a greater understanding of your community and how it works. It can also lead to enhanced skills, greater capacity and employment. Practically this means a better understanding of the opportunities and threats the community faces. Sometimes you find out things about your community you didn’t know or understand. Often these things can be really helpful when trying to work with others on the things we want to change in the community. They give you a base position to work from, and can mean you don’t end up reinventing the wheel. This means you can focus your time on working out what wonderful new things you can do with the wheel you’ve already got! There are also social benefits. Getting more involved in community activities can help people feel less isolated and lead to lasting friendships, new skills and interests. Groups are able to develop their capacity, but also through their work they can: • provide improved access to services and activities • create jobs • offer training (to name but a few of the benefits). What all of these benefits bring to an area is clear; there is an increased confidence among local people to get involved, and this often leads to a better sense of identity and pride in their communities, and of course through management of the assets But it’s not just about the benefits to the community. There are benefits that relate to the individuals involved and the group as well as the area in which the group and asset are based. For the individual… For the group… 28
  29. 29. there is often an improvement in the local environment, particularly when the building or land gets refurbished etc. Most of the agencies and organisations that support local people who are considering community ownership of assets, and running local services, would say that both assets and services are likely to be more sustainable if local people are engaged and involved. When local people are encouraged to engage meaningfully in local decision-making this can lead to strong, independent, sustainable community-based organisations. These organisations are rooted in their communities through the ownership of income-generating assets, and they have the power not only to shape, but to take the lead by establishing community enterprises that deliver local services and create prosperity. The benefit to the community or neighbourhood can be considerable, and if you put all of this together, then community- owned assets (or more correctly those who own and run them) can help to stop decline in an area and, more often than not, help to regenerate that area. For your community … 29
  30. 30. Carn Brea Leisure centre Opened in 1974, Carn Brea Leisure centre was an important facility for local people in Redruth, Cornwall, but 25 years later it closed following a difficult relationship with the external contractor appointed to run the centre. The staff and users rallied, forming a charitable company and acquired a 99-year lease on the premises. They opened with just £250 in the till and gym equipment bought with a loan. After a fraught fortnight in which the staff didn’t know if they’d get paid or not, the centre carried on, and within 18 months they knew they could survive. Sixteen years later, the centre is still going strong, and puts much of its success down to the fact that their independence means they can make quick decisions. www.carnbrealeisurecentre.co.uk
  31. 31. Photo © Carn Brea Leisure Centre
  32. 32. FINISH! START! 32
  33. 33. How do you get or create a community asset? There are many different routes to securing and developing a community-owned assets. The route you follow will depend on your community, the asset and the context in which the acquisition or development is taking place. Don’t be put off by the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all here – that’s the joy of living in your community, it’s both the same and yet different from every other community. 33
  34. 34. Gather information Whatever you are trying to do – save a building, find a building or develop new buildings - the first thing to do is gather some basic information. There is no need to go overboard at this stage and undertake a large research project but getting the basic information together is critical if you are going to be able to understand the size of the task ahead. 34
  35. 35. You’ll already have identified the need your project is responding to, but you’ll still need to know: • Who owns the building or land you want to develop? • How much do they want for it? • Who else might be interested in working with you? • Who else might support this idea? • Are there people that would use the building you develop? If so, how? Developing new buildings Things you need to know: • Who owns the building or land? You could use the Land Registry search for this - www.gov.uk/land-registry • What they want to do with it? • How much do they want for it? • What are their timescales? • Who else might be interested in working with you? • Who else might support this idea? Discussions start when local people come together to express a perceived need in their community. You will already know what you want to do so you’ll need to ask questions like: • How are these sorts of businesses run? • Are there people that would use it? • Are there people that would be interested in running it? • Can we find space to run it from? Saving a building Space to run a service from 35
  36. 36. Work together The importance of collaboration cannot be understated. Whilst it’s possible to be bloody-minded and do it on your own, working in an exclusive way doesn’t chime with the idea of collective and common ownership and working inclusively; the characteristics of community-based organisations. Establishing the common ground is critical. Whether you like it or not you need to establish trust with others within your community and you need to try to find time and space to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the aims and objectives of the project. If you do this then the next steps are less likely to be so challenging. Find the common ground to start with and the likelihood of success is greater. You can start on your own, but for a project like this you’ll need more people involved as momentum gathers. Start talking to people over coffee, picking the kids up from school, in the pub, over dinner, anywhere people meet and talk, and consider calling a meeting of your local community. If you do decide to call a meeting then make sure you are ready and are clear about its purpose. Is the meeting to ask people to help or is it just to gauge other people’s views and to make sure that they are happy with what you are suggesting? As a minimum you’ll need to be able describe your plans, why you’re planning to do it and how you think it will work – so knowing the answers to some of the questions above should help. You will also need to be clear about what you want people to help with, as they will ask. 36
  37. 37. Go legal – develop the organisation At some point you will need to set up a legal entity to reduce your liability. You will need to think about the legal structure and the form of the organisation as discussed earlier. At this stage, it’s a good idea to take advice. This could be legal advice (remember a local solicitor may be happy to offer pro-bono support - see about pro-bono support below) or advice from a national support agency (for example Co-operatives UK - www.uk.coop). Once you’ve decided on the legal structure and organisational form you will need to register it with the appropriate body, for example Companies House, the Charity Commission, and/or the Financial Conduct Authority. The forms you’ll need to complete and the body you will register with depend on the legal structure you chose. Pro bono work is any professional work undertaken for free. It is short for pro bono publico, which translates as ‘for the public good’. Many lawyers, architects, planners, surveyors and other professionals are willing to offer pro bono support to good causes. Pro bono support can really kick-start your project and can help to start to develop your plan. The key is the old adage ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. For further information have a look at the following: Locality Brokers - www.localitybrokers.org.uk Law Works - www.lawworks.org.uk A word on pro bono support 37
  38. 38. Create a network Acquiring, and developing, community-owned assets is not something that you can do on your own. It almost always ends up as a collaborative process with people or organisations that have a stake of some kind in the outcome or the community. The sooner you start to develop the relationships and build the partnerships you will need, the better. So, at a relatively early stage it’s good to carry out a stakeholder analysis. In other words work out: • Who do you need to work with? Develop the list of the people and organisations who should be involved. • Think about why they need to be involved, and what your ideas can do for them and what they can bring to the party. Don’t underestimate the power of networking as a way of starting to enlist the support of those you will need on your side. So if you are struggling to have a sensible discussion with your local authority, or you can’t get the landowner to answer your calls, talk to other members of your group and work out if they know anyone who can get you the introductions you need. Some tips that might help: • Build on existing networks and relationships. • Encourage people to make a commitment to the project. • Quick wins are important and lead to more substantive work. • There needs to be a critical mass of organisations or people with the capacity to commit time to the project. KnowHow Nonprofit - www.knowhownonprofit.org Further reading and resources 38
  39. 39. Hulme Community Garden Centre, Manchester has 150 regular volunteers and 5000 people have been involved in the project since it began. Photo © Helene Rudlin - Hulme community garden
  40. 40. Photo © Phil Gammon
  41. 41. Ivy House Pub In April 2012, drinkers at the Ivy House pub in Nunhead, south London, were told that last orders in five days’ time would be the pub’s last ever. A farewell drink that night turned into a campaign to buy the pub for the community, as a group of local people decided that the doors of the Ivy House had to stay open. Six months and a lot of work later the Ivy House reopened. In that time, they had raised almost £1m in loans and finance and a further £142,000 in community shares and achieved a series of firsts – the Ivy House was the first pub listed as a community asset, the first building bought using new legislation in the Localism Act, and it was London’s first co-operatively owned pub. It wasn’t easy and the group admit that they were lucky to have town-planners, architects and finance experts amongst their community able to assist, but the Ivy House has just achieved another first – its first- ever beer festival, three years after it was meant to be closed. www.ivyhousenunhead.com
  42. 42. Developing your plan There are many resources that can be used to help you develop your plan – those listed at the end of this section are all good places to start. The key to any plan though is the three Cs: Is it easy to understand? What you are asking for and why? It forms a unified whole: it should set out: • Who is implementing the plan and their background • The need you are trying to meet • How your plan will generate money • How the plan works financially – what’s the mix of funding and how the idea will be financially viable over the long term • What the community benefit is. The first draft of your plan should be one page. If you cannot state your case in a single page others may struggle to understand it. The final plan will be as long as it needs to be, but it must be clear and coherent. Place support documentation in an appendix. Clear Coherent Concise 42
  43. 43. Feasibility and viability: test your plan At some point it will be necessary to build a case for acquiring an asset. In short, a feasibility study and an assessment of viability will be required. Feasibility is the evaluation of the potential of the proposed project (can it be accomplished or brought about), while an assessment of viability will reveal if it stacks up or not financially. One of the things that must be done is to check that the land and buildings the group is seeking to acquire really are assets and not liabilities. If they cannot generate enough income to fund repairs, maintenance and ongoing operational costs, then they are probably liabilities and other options should be considered. There will be a need to gather evidence, and test any assumptions made, in order to show: • That the idea is a good one, and has the support of the local community • How the local community and local people will benefit • That the business plan (every project needs to develop a business plan) demonstrates that the plans stack up financially (that the ideas are viable). 43
  44. 44. Finance - raise money Whilst there are some community asset transfers that have secured the freehold of a new asset, fit for purpose and with funding to support the running costs for two or three years, such occurrences are rare! It is safe to assume that finance will be needed. Crowdfunding works by asking a large number of people to donate a small amount of money each. It offers the opportunity to get lots of people involved both locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to raising money it can also help to raise profile and get people involved. Have a look at the UK Crowd Funding Association website. A community share is a form of share capital issued by co-operative societies, community benefit societies and charitable community benefit societies. They can be used to help fund all sorts of community businesses and services. Buying community shares makes you a member of the business, though you still only have one vote irrespective of how many shares you own. So, community share issues are a good way of raising finance and developing a community membership organisation. There are many potential sources of income and it’s worth trying a wide range of different sources. So, include grants and donations (if your organisation qualifies) and don’t exclude the use of loans or mortgages if your business plan is robust enough. It’s worth exploring other sources of finance that could be compatible with the concept of community ownership including crowdfunding, the use of community shares, and philanthropic giving. Crowdfunding Community shares 44
  45. 45. Whilst it may be hard to come by, there are people in many communities who may be willing to offer funds to get you started. Don’t underestimate the power of putting your case to your community. It can open up opportunities (and release the potential) in ways that you may never have imagined, including donations. All too often we are afraid to ask: don’t be. The worst that can happen is you’ll get a no, the best, well... These three means of raising finance are important because they involve more active participation by your community than many of the other methods of raising finance (grants, loans etc.). They’re also a good way to mobilise people to support what you and your organisation are trying to achieve because they are more participatory and democratic. Philanthropic giving The following are just a selection of places where you might look for funding: Big Lottery - Asset transfer and capital programmes - www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/research/communities-and-places/ community-assets Heritage Lottery Fund - www.hlf.org.uk Sport England - www.sportengland.org/funding Social Investment Business - www.sibgroup.org.uk Charity Bank www.charitybank.org Charities Aid Foundation - www.cafonline.org Community Development Finance Institution www.cdfa.org.uk Government Funding Database govfundingpublic.nics.gov.uk Association of Charitable Foundations - www.acf.org.uk – see Links to ACF Member Trusts and Foundations New Philanthropy Capital - www.thinknpc.org Community Shares - www.communityshares.org.uk UK Crowdfunding Association - www.ukcfa.org.uk In additionyourlocalvoluntaryand communitysectorsupport organisation maywell have access to databases with lists offunders. Further reading and resources 45
  46. 46. Negotiate Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate and then negotiate some more! It’s easy to take ‘No’ for an answer and give up. Most asset acquisition involves being told ‘No’ a number of times before you get a ‘Yes’. Having a clear, coherent and concise plan in place and enlisting the support of the relevant professionals will help in all the negotiations – with local authority, with the planners, with the bank, with the landowner etc. Below are some useful websites to pick up information on developing your organisation, developing your plan and securing funding and finance. Community Matters - www.communitymatters.org.uk Plunkett Foundation - www.plunkett.co.uk Co-operatives UK - www.uk.coop Social Enterprise Coalition - www.socialenterprise.org.uk Social Firms UK - www.socialfirmsuk.co.uk School for Social Entrepreneurs - www.the-sse.org Action with Communities in Rural England - www.acre.org.uk Community Enterprise Scotland - communityenterprise.co.uk Community Enterprise Wales - www.cewales.org Community Enterprise Network - www.communityenterprisenetwork.org Further reading and resources 46
  47. 47. Having faced closure, the King’s Arms Shouldham is now a community-owned pub (and cafe), thanks to a share offer that allowed local people to invest in it. Photo © King’s Arms Shouldham
  48. 48. Valleys Kids The Rhondda Valley has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the UK, 12,000 of its young people are not in education, training or employment, and a quarter of its children live in poverty. Now in its 35th year, the Valleys Kids organisation was set up to address these problems by offering activities, training and breaks from the harsh reality of life in the Rhondda valley. Started in a white-washed cellar, over the years Valleys Kids has acquired a former chapel, a former soft drinks factory, a cottage in the Gower, and four community hubs, to deliver its services and activities to local families and young people. Although Valleys Kids didn’t set out to acquire property, it became clear that it needed buildings to house its programmes, and today that range of programmes is helping to improve local people’s lives. valleyskids.org
  49. 49. Photo © Valleys Kids
  50. 50. 50
  51. 51. Using the right mechanism There are a number of legal rights and mechanisms that can help your community acquire building, bid for land, or bid to run local authority services. 51
  52. 52. Communities have a number of rights and mechanisms they can use to acquire assets, land, or bid to run services. Which rights you can use will depend on where you live; while community asset transfers are UK-wide other rights only apply in England or Scotland. Below is a summary of some of the key rights currently available to communities across the UK. There are a number of mechanisms that can be used to secure the ownership of an asset. You may find you need to use more than one. For those communities not lucky enough to be gifted or left an asset, the main options are either to purchase them or to negotiate some form of community asset transfer. Community asset transfer applies across the UK, so it’s worth understanding a little more about this option. Community asset transfers can be described as a change in management and/or ownership of land or building from public sector agencies to community-based organisations. Not all community asset transfers result in the freehold acquisition of the asset by the community-based organisation. They can result in long leaseholds, short leaseholds or simply a licence to occupy. Finance and funding is discussed in more detail in a later section, but it’s worth noting that if there is a need to secure grants and or loans to enable the transfer or to develop the asset, any lease will probably need to be at least 25 years long. It’s also worth noting that ownership and management are two different things and there are a significant number of community- based organisations that do not own the freehold of the assets they are operating from. These organisations have a variety of lease and licence agreements. It’s not uncommon to begin by obtaining a lease or a licence and then progress to owning the asset later. Many community-based organisations and community businesses have developed their asset base through this route. It’s a good way to test Community Asset Transfer - UK Wide Eng Sco Wal NI 52
  53. 53. the water and determine whether the business or service generates sufficient surpluses to cover the costs associated with the asset before committing to buying the asset itself. Whilst the history of communities owning their own assets is long, in recent years Government policy has sought to help many more community-based organisations take on assets (and run services from them). The policy has led to a number of legal mechanisms that can enable and support the acquisition process, for example the use of the enabling powers through Localism and the Community Rights in England, and the Community Right to Reclaim Land and use of the Right to Buy in Scotland. Each of these mechanisms can be used in specific circumstances or under specific conditions, so you will need to familiarise yourself with the details. It’s beyond the scope of this guide to explain these mechanisms in detail but more information on them can be found on the following websites and/or resources. The key is to understand enough about these other mechanisms to be able to connect them so as to support your negotiation. In Scotland the Community Right to Buy is a pre-emptive right which provides an opportunity for a community body in communities with a population of less than 10,000 to apply to register an interest in land and the opportunity to buy that land when it comes up for sale. There is a formal application process to register an interest in the land and only once the application passes checks and is approved is the land entered on the Register of Community Interests in Land (RCIL). Once registered the interest remains in place for 5 years (it can be renewed), during which time if the landowner seeks to sell or transfer the ownership of the land it is valued and the community body have 6 months to complete the purchase. Other Mechanisms Community Right to Buy – Scotland Only Eng Sco Wal NI 53
  54. 54. There are a number of community rights in England which, while they don’t necessarily lead to the acquisition of assets, may have a role to play. These include: This gives community groups the chance to request that their local authority list assets they believe to be of value to the local community. If the local authority accept the application for listing then the asset is held on the local authority list. See your local authority website for their guidance and the application process they wish you to use – you can find your local authority here: www.gov.uk/find- your-local-council If the owner seeks to sell the asset this triggers a moratorium of 6 months during which time the community group can prepare a bid. The landowner does not need to accept the bid, so this right confers no guarantee, but there are now a number of examples where this mechanism has resulted in acquisition. Community Rights – England Only Community Right to Bid - England Only Community Right to Buy – Scotland Only - www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/ Rural/rural-land/right-to-buy/Community Community Rights – England Only - mycommunity.org.uk Eng Eng Sco Sco Wal Wal NI NI Further reading and resources 54
  55. 55. The Community Right to Challenge allows community-based organisations (and a range of other groups and organisations) the opportunity to bid to run local authority services where they believe they can do so differently and better. A written expression of interest must be submitted to the local authority, which if accepted will trigger a procurement exercise. The interested group may take part in the procurement exercise, alongside others. Using the Right to Challenge is not appropriate for asset acquisition, but as most services are delivered from assets (buildings), considering what’s required to make a successful challenge to take on a service (the business planning work) might help in the preparation of a business case. The Community Right to Reclaim Land allows communities to ask their local authority (and other public bodies) to sell land that is unused or underused so that it can be brought back into use. A request must be made to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This should set out: • why the community think land or property is vacant or underused • that there are no plans in place or likely to be put in place that affect the land • why disposal of the land would enable it to be brought back into use If the Secretary of State decides that the request is valid then a notice can be issued to the landowner requesting that he or she sells the land (normally on the open market). Community Right to Challenge - England Only Eng Eng Sco Sco Wal Wal NI NI Community Right to Reclaim Land - England Only 55
  56. 56. The Right to Contest allows communities, businesses and local authorities the right to challenge Government to sell land it owns for better economic use. The Right to Contest can be used to argue that land currently in use could be put to better economic purpose. In addition to the Right to Bid, the Right to Challenge, the Right to Reclaim Land and the Right to Contest, the Community Right to Build and Neighbourhood Planning are also worthy of consideration. As these are related to planning both are dealt with under the routes to planning in the next chapter. Eng Sco Wal NI The Right to Contest - England Only Although not strictly a way to acquire or create a community- owned asset, Meanwhile Use could be used as a useful first step if you need to show that you can develop an idea and make it work. Meanwhile Use is a temporary use of vacant buildings (often shops) for beneficial purposes by the community until such time as the building can be commercially let or sold. If your group has an idea that needs developing, Meanwhile Use might allow your group to test the idea, show there is a demand for your proposal, and refine it before taking on a more formal lease. Have a look at www.meanwhile.org.uk for more information. A word about Meanwhile Use 56
  57. 57. Community Right to Reclaim Land - www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving- people-more-power-over-what-happens-in-their-neighbourhood/supporting- pages/community-right-to-reclaim-land The Right to Contest - www.gov.uk/right-to-contest Locality - locality.org.uk Development Trusts Northern Ireland - dtni.org.uk/ Development Trusts Association Scotland - www.dtascot.org.uk Development Trusts Association Wales - www.dtawales.org.uk Further reading and resources 57
  58. 58. Photo © Doreen Wood Braemar Castles Braemar Community Ltd was founded in 2004, and until 2007 its focus was mainly on improving access in the area, successfully creating two footbridges and a new footpath. That changed in 2007, when the community-owned company took on a 50-year lease for Braemar Castle, a 17th-century tower in need of urgent repairs. Prior to its acquisition of the lease, the only experience the group had of heritage projects was the restoration of a frame-cottage in the district. The community raised £400,000 to undertake the repairs and the castle is once again open to the public, thanks to the community and its volunteers who act as guides, man the tills in the shop and tend to the gardens. Braemar Community is now fundraising to create a visitor centre and improve the grounds. www.braemarcastle.co.uk
  59. 59. 60
  60. 60. Community-led Development Community ownership of assets includes acquiring existing buildings or land but many communities are also developing new buildings to meet their needs. 61
  61. 61. Getting started For communities wishing to build new houses, workspaces or community facilities, the process they follow is often described as community-led development. In these cases the community, rather than a developer, leads the process of development. This section provides a number of pointers to the things you will need to consider if you are going to lead a development of your own assets. The number of communities seeking to undertake new development is growing, as is the diversity of development they are seeking to complete. Community- led development now includes new housing, farms and spaces for growing, renewable energy projects, workspaces, play areas, new community facilities and new health facilities to name a few. 62
  62. 62. 63
  63. 63. It’s impossible to cover all of the elements of work that you may need to complete during this phase but the following commonly arise. There are generally three distinct phases to a new development: • Pre-development: this phase starts with the idea, gets the plan together about what, who, where and how and will commonly conclude in a planning consent and the necessary permissions from all the relevant agencies to carry out the development. • Development: this stage involves construction and ends with a completed new building/s. • Post-development: this starts from the point that the new building is occupied. Some of this has been covered in previous sections but in essence you need to have a clear brief for the development you are proposing. Why is it needed? Who will use it? How will it be funded? What are the steps that are needed to make it happen? When you start it’s highly likely that the brief will be sketchy. The aim of the pre-development stage is to firm everything up, and gather as much knowledge and understanding as you can to ensure that before you start the development you have a really robust business plan which has the support of those you will need to work with to make it happen. In order to help you develop your ideas and turn them into a robust funded plan you are likely to need support from specialists such as architects, planners, structural engineers, ecologists, cost consultants etc. etc. The team you need will depend on the development you want to undertake. Together this group of specialists will help you to fully develop the brief and undertake feasibility work. Phases of development Developing the ideas A team approach 64
  64. 64. Undertaking feasibility work and assessing the viability of your scheme are going to be key elements of the pre-development work you will need to complete. As has been said before, in the early stages of developing your ideas you will need to think about the sort of organisation you will require. The resources listed in the section on legal forms and Go Legal are a good place to start. As also said before it’s a good idea to take advice on the best organisational and legal route to use as this may need to marry with what you are trying to develop. Feasibility and viability The right organisation In addition to supporting the work required during pre-development the specialist team will also be able to provide support throughout the development phase so that the project is delivered on time and in budget. If you’re planning to build something, then it might be worth considering setting up a Community Land Trust. There are five key features of community land trusts: • They are community-controlled and community-owned • They have an open democratic structure • The provide permanently affordable housing or other assets • They are not-for-profit • They provide long-term stewardship of any development For more information about community land trusts in England and Wales see Community Land Trust Network UK: www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk For more information about community landownership in Scotland see: www.communitylandscotland.org.uk A word about Community Land Trusts 65
  65. 65. During the pre-development phase you will also need to develop the business plan. This includes both a plan for finances to complete the building (capital finance) and the plan for the running of the building once completed (revenue finance). Depending on the scale of the development proposed the costs of this phase can vary greatly. Unfortunately, pre-development finance is not easy to come by so be prepared to work hard to try to secure what limited grant or at-risk loan finance there is (some of the funders listed in the Finance- raise money section offer pre-development funding) and don’t forget to ask those who may be prepared to offer pro bono support. In addition to securing finance, or support, to develop the plans the pre–development phase is also where you need to seek commitment from funders and investors for the build phase (the Development phase). In most cases you will also need to show that you have a financially sustainable plan for running the building. Business case and finance Our Plan 66
  66. 66. A key element in many community-led developments is planning. If you need a planning consent to undertake your project, it is well worth speaking to your local planning officers early on. It may also be worth making a pre-planning application. Most local planning authorities offer such a service, aimed at giving applicants, architects and developers clear advice about whether the council would be likely to recommend approval for a scheme. This service also enables planning officers to suggest any changes that may be needed prior to making an application. The benefits of pre-application advice are: • Gives you an opportunity to understand how the local council’s policies will be applied to your development • Helps you identify potential problems and sort them out before an application is submitted • Can prevent costly and time-consuming amendments to your schemes later on. Most community groups wishing to undertake a new build will establish the brief for the building, develop the plans and designs and then submit a planning application to the local planning authority. The application will be determined by planning officers and elected members (the Development Control Committee). They will consider the plans to ascertain if they are in accordance with local and national policy. Plans are then approved and granted a consent (sometimes with conditions that need to be met), or not, as the case may be. This is the conventional and most common route to getting a planning consent. Routes to planning Planning Portal - www.planningportal.gov.uk Planning Authorities in Scotland - www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/ planning/Roles/Planning-Authorities/Information Planning Authorities in England and Wales - www.planningportal.gov.uk/inyourarea Planning Authorities in Northern Ireland - www.planningni.gov.uk Further reading and resources 67
  67. 67. Although following the conventional route (submitting a planning application to the local planning authority) will still be the first choice for many community groups seeking to develop, in England the Localism Act 2011 introduced an alternative route by which community groups can gain a planning consent known as the Community Right to Build. ​How does the Community Right to Build Work? In order to make use of the right, members of the community will need to set themselves up as a corporate body. This means you need to have a legal entity; individuals can’t use the right. The purpose of the group must be to further the social, economic and environmental well-being of the local community. It also worth noting that any benefits that come from the development must be retained or used for the benefit of the community. As a group, you would then manage the process of putting in place the Community Right to Build Order. In essence the Community Right to Build requires a number of formal stages as follows: • Establishing community support: you need to be sure you have good community support for your proposals. • Defining the neighbourhood area: the Community Right to Build is part of the ‘Neighbourhood Planning framework’. This means that Community Right to Build schemes must be within a defined neighbourhood area which has to be agreed with the Local Planning Authority. • Developing a business case: the community group must identify suitable land, sources of finance and secure local agreement for their proposals. • Preparing a Community Right to Build Order: before making an application to the Local Planning Authority for approval of a Community Right to Build Order, the community organisation must also carry out publicity and consultation to ensure everyone in the community and certain specialist bodies have the chance to comment on the proposals. The onus is on the community group to carry this work out. Community Right to Build Orders - England Only Eng Sco Wal NI 68
  68. 68. • Submitting a Community Right to Build Order: after the Community Right to Build Order has been drawn up, it must be approved by an independent examiner to ensure that it meets certain standards. • The Referendum: If the proposed order meets the basic conditions then the examiner will recommend that it proceeds to the referendum stage. The proposed order is passed on to the local authority to be put to a local referendum so people can vote on whether they want the development to go ahead. The local council is required to organise a referendum, open to all registered voters in the defined neighbourhood area. In some cases, it may be opened to a wider area if there are broader implications of the development being approved. If the referendum receives the support of over 50% of those voting, then the Community Right to Build Order is passed and the council must grant planning permission. Although by no means an easy route to planning (you will need all the information normally submitted with a conventional planning application alongside business plans), the Community Right to Build offers an alternative which may be of real value in some communities. For more detail about the right have a look at: http://mycommunity.org.uk/programme/community-buildings-housing Further reading and resources 69
  69. 69. Whilst not an immediately obvious route to follow, both Neighbourhood Development Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders are something that you should look into, as they may provide an opportunity to position your ideas and plans, and so may help with delivery once you get to that point. Neighbourhood Development Plans Neighbourhood Development Plan are community-led frameworks for guiding the future development of an area. In the past, plan-making processes have been led by local authorities, but now neighbourhood planning allows local people (through a recognised qualifying body – either a town or parish council or a neighbourhood forum in un-parished areas) to develop planning policy and proposals for improving their neighbourhood area. If these plans receive a 50% ‘Yes’ vote in a referendum they are then made. If made, the Neighbourhood Development Plan becomes part of the statutory development plan for the area. This means that local authorities will take the plan into account when making planning decisions. So, by preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan local people are being given the opportunity to: • Choose where they want new homes, shops, offices and other development to be built • Have their say on the design of new developments. Clearly this does not mean that things get built immediately but they provide an opportunity for the development to take place over the lifetime of the plan. Neighbourhood Planning - England Only Eng Sco Wal NI 70
  70. 70. Neighbourhood Development Orders A Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) sets out the kind of developments permitted in an area. Once it is in place there is no need to apply for planning permission for the kind of developments described in the NDO. Neighbourhood Development Orders can only be brought forward by a qualifying body (either a town or parish council or a neighbourhood forum) either as part of a Neighbourhood Development Plan or independent to the plan. In preparing a Neighbourhood Development Order (NDO) the qualifying body must go through the same process as that to be followed when preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan, and the Order must meet the basic conditions. However, once it is established, the order grants planning permission for specified developments in a neighbourhood area and there would be no need for anyone to apply to the local planning authority for planning permission if it is for the type of development covered by the order. A Neighbourhood Development Order should make it easier and quicker for the kind of development it describes to go ahead in the future. My Community – mycommunity.org.uk/programme/neighbourhoodplanning Planning Portal – http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/inyourarea/neighbourhood Further reading and resources 71
  71. 71. Limavady Community Development Initiative One of the largest community groups in Northern Ireland, the Limavady Community Development Initiative was set up in 1987 by local people concerned by the high levels of unemployment in the area.  A decade later, LCDI had outgrown its premises and asked the Department of Health whether they could acquire and redevelop a former hospital. The initial response was not encouraging, but after engaging with Department officials and pulling together a local steering group which attracted over £2m of funding, LCDI acquired and refurbished the complex. Originally a Victorian workhouse, the complex is now home to a range of community and social care projects including specialist medical clinics, daycare centres, community transport and recycling projects, all of which rent space from LCDI. This gives LCDI a sustainable source of income and allows them to further their work in the local community and beyond; LCDI now employs over 60 people, supported by 100+ volunteers. The organisation views itself as a successful Social Enterprise. www.lcdi.co.uk
  72. 72. How might Neighbourhood Development Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders help groups seeking to build new facilities? As the qualifying body must work inclusively within its community there is a real opportunity for local groups and community- based organisations that want to develop new facilities to try to incorporate their plans into the Neighbourhood Development Plan or Neighbourhood Development Orders, or through alignment of strategic priorities (for example, the community group’s plans are the same as those in the Neighbourhood Development Plan). Whilst not an easy route, Neighbourhood Development Plans offer a way for local communities to set planning policy for their neighbourhood, and Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Order offer communities a way to develop the sites (and therefore services) that they want and need. It’s also worth noting that whilst developers are encouraged to engage with communities prior to submitting applications for planning, all too often this translates into ‘here are our plans what do you think?’ Through mechanisms like the Community Right to Build Order there is a real opportunity for communities to be truly engaged in what development takes place in their communities. Mechanisms such as the Community Right to Build Order and Neighbourhood Development Order, and more widely Neighbourhood Planning, provide for participative and representational democracy in both local planning policy and local development. This should be the norm for all development. Community engagement and involvement in development – an opportunity? Further support with planning - Planning Aid offers advice and support: Planning Aid England – www.rtpi.org.uk/planning-aid Planning Aid Scotland – www.pas.org.uk Planning Aid Wales – www.planningaidwales.org.uk Planning Aid Northern Ireland – www.newryandmourne.gov.uk Further reading and resources 74
  73. 73. Creative community engagement. Photo © Eden Project community engagement
  74. 74. Land acquisition by community-based organisations is not easy (the same goes for acquiring redundant and derelict buildings) but it’s not impossible. Clearly if you have funds, purchasing land is the obvious route, but if you don’t have funds, then you may have to persuade the landowner to deal with you. The first stage in any form of land acquisition is finding out about the land and whether it’s available. This stage is commonly followed by negotiation. If the land is available you’ll need to strike an agreement with the landowner to secure your interest in the land if you can’t buy it. If the land is not available and doesn’t appear to be being used then it’s often still worth talking to the landowner as they might be interested in dealing with you and listening to your ideas. There are a number of forms of agreement that can set out an effective route to acquiring an interest in the land (or other asset). In all cases it is well worth taking advice (think pro bono!) to make sure you get the most appropriate agreement for your set of circumstances. Whilst these agreements do not immediately result in Land acquisition 76
  75. 75. the acquisition of the land, they set out the route to be followed and offer the possibility of acquiring it. The types of deal that are the most commonly used ‘structures’ for land transactions include: • Freeholds with overage provisions, such as ‘uplifts’ and ‘clawbacks’: in this case the contract for sale will include a clause which will set out how much financial share (the overage) the purchaser must pay to the seller if the purchaser is able to increase the value of the land (through a planning consent for example). The clause will also set out when and what the triggers are for the payment of the share. • Non-binding ‘lock out’ or ‘exclusivity’ agreements: these sorts of agreements prevent other interested buyers from agreeing a deal with the landowner whilst you get the time to complete things such as getting a planning consent etc. So they are often used when both the prospective purchaser and the seller need time to agree the nature of the deal. They are often not legally binding agreements but show the good faith between both parties. • Option agreements: these are legally binding agreements which set out what the prospective purchaser must do and by when in order to trigger the sale of the land/building. The benefit of a formal legally binding agreement with the landowner, which sets out the route you need to take to purchase the land, is that it’s a tool to provide some form of certainty and therefore can be used to raise finance. Further resources: the following resources provide further advice and guidance on undertaking and completing a development: Royal Institute of British Architects - www.architecture.com Locality, To Have and to Hold - locality.org.uk/resources/hold Community Buildings Checker - www.communitybuildingschecker.org.uk Locality Brokers - www.localitybrokers.org.uk So you want to build a house - locality.org.uk/resources/build-house Further reading and resources 77
  76. 76. 78
  77. 77. How to make community-owned assets sustainable Sustainability should be one of the key attributes of any community-based organisation that owns assets, and of the activities and services provided from or through the use of these assets. 79
  78. 78. Clearly, to be an asset (rather than a liability!) a community- owned business or service should contribute towards the long-term financial, social and environmental sustainability of its community. In most cases it’s really not the asset but how it is run and the services it offers that determines whether it can be sustainable. These are the things that help to create community, develop the sense of identity within a community, and create a ladder of opportunity for those who use and access the services and space provided. Put simply, unless it’s able to sustain itself financially it will be difficult for backers to offer long-term support. In addition, one of the benefits of community-based organisations is that they often help with the circulation of money within their community. They do this by employing local people and/or using local businesses and suppliers. This in turn can help foster greater community cohesion, a sharing of the common vision of the community and a greater sense of belonging. It’s another example of how community-based organisations and community assets help to create more sustainable and resilient communities. Community benefit is also key. This often means that the community asset provides a mix of commercial and community uses. The commercial uses help to generate an income, through the use of the asset, which allow community services and facilities to be provided at less than commercial rates. In this way services delivered from community assets help to balance financial sustainability and community benefit. Many community-based organisations try to be environmentally sustainable as well. This covers both how a building might run (saving energy, generating energy, waste management etc.), and the activities that take place within it which promote environmental sustainability, e.g. ethical shopping, advice on renewable energy. (recycling, shopping ethically). Financial sustainability Social sustainability Environmental sustainability 80
  79. 79. A community that owns assets can anticipate and adapt quickly to change. It can also shape its own future. Community-owned assets can offer: • A stronger position – if your community organisation has a freehold or long leasehold, it goes on the organisation’s balance sheet as an asset. This puts you in a much stronger position to act as a business. • Added value – if they are financially sustainable then they already add value because of the way they work. If they generate surpluses then this income can be used to deliver services that are otherwise hard to fund. • Self-determination - if a community owns its assets and is financially sustainable it can set its own priorities without worrying about changes in local government or changes in government funding. All of these things mean that community-owned businesses can keep going regardless of the chaos around them. They can control their situation, generate their own income and deliver their own balance of business. Unlocking the potential 81
  80. 80. The risks Getting involved in the community ownership of assets is not without its risks. The key risk is that your organisation lacks the manpower or the skills to take on and manage the asset. The result is a liability that cannot be maintained. Such failures tend to result in a loss of confidence with the community and fear of trying again. One of the ways to mitigate this risk is to make sure that your eyes are open from the outset. It is easy to become misty-eyed over a building or a bit of land which we have a connection with. However, if you are going to make it work as a community asset, the sooner you look at the feasibility and viability of what you propose the better. Make sure that your feasibility and viability work is robust and that your plan is realistic. Enlisting the help and support of professionals and getting independent advice will help immeasurably. Most assets can be made to work if you work hard at the feasibility stage; they tend to fail when you don’t plan and don’t properly assess what’s possible. Remember, it often takes time to develop any form of community- led work, and often those involving community-owned assets are the longest projects to come to fruition. So, don’t get disillusioned if things don’t happen immediately. 82
  81. 81. Westmill Solar, the UK’s first and the world’s largest cooperatively run, community-owned solar farm. Photo © Westmill Solar Co-operative
  82. 82. Ashley Vale Action Group It wasn’t the prospect of more houses, but the question of who was going to build them that spurred the residents and campaigners of the Ashley Vale Action Group to acquire the site of a former scaffolding company in Bristol. Having banded together to prevent a developer from taking on the site, the residents association decided to take the next logical step and formed a company to develop the site themselves. The original plans to share the development with a housing association for the elderly had to be shelved but in the end the Ashley Vale Action Group bought the land and built the houses themselves. The result? An award-winning development of forty homes, including individually designed timber-framed houses, a row of self- finisher houses (the walls and roofs were put in and the houses were finished off by the purchasers) and a refurbished office block that now contains flats and workshop space for three local businesses. The development even boasts a village green, accessible from the garden gates of the properties. wildgoosespace.org.uk Photo © Martin Schofield
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  84. 84. Conclusion 87
  85. 85. Teacher (F) To sum up... 88
  86. 86. Many communities have found community asset ownership to be a game changer because it allows communities to develop in a way that is appropriate for them, responding to needs as they emerge. In the long term it helps to make any community more resilient.  That said, whilst community asset ownership is a good thing, it’s not without its challenges. So, when you start to think about making the journey to bring assets into community ownership there are four things that are worth remembering. Firstly, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to make the journey alone; you will need other people. The sooner you start to gather others about you who share the same vision and passion the better and easier the journey will be. Secondly, it’s critical that you understand the journey you want to make. As you know where you are now (no asset, no money, no group) and where you want to be (community arts workshop with residential accommodation owned by those who live and work there), you’ll be able to put together a simple plan and initial checklist of the things you’ll need to do to make your journey. Starting with a plan is critical, deviating from the plan is not uncommon, but unless you have a plan you won’t know you’ve deviated, and so you won’t know how far away you are from where you want to be! Thirdly, whilst there are common elements to every asset acquisition there are nearly always differences as well. Often the key to acquiring an asset is the ‘work around’; using the tools and mechanisms available to you in a way that’s right for you and helps you move forward. If you get stuck don’t be afraid to try different strategies to keep it going. Finally, remember the prize. In a changing world a community asset, owned by its community, can give something to future generations who will live in your community. For many they create anchors, or beacons of hope, upon which the future of the community can be built. They also provide continuity in a rapidly changing world that helps to root us in our communities and allows us focus on the here, the now and the future. 89
  87. 87. Notes
  88. 88. How do ordinary people get access to land or buildings to run businesses, offer services, generate energy or build houses? Community-owned assets can help make a community socially, environmentally and above all, economically viable. This guide offers an introduction to acquiring a community asset – a building or a piece of land – as the first major step towards creating the community you want to live in.

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