Community Land Ownership Executive Summary

Executive Summary

This report was commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) to scope the range of funding models available to, and being used by, community landowning groups.

The research is informed by the desire of the Scottish Government to make community landownership a normal option for communities across Scotland. Funding can be a barrier to achieving this goal and in an environment of limited public funding there is a need to consider alternative options.

The overall objective of this study was to scope the range of potential funding models that may be available to support community acquisition and development of land and building assets. In particular, the study was intended to inform the range of options available beyond direct government funding. The study was also intended to consider whether there are international examples of different ‘public interest’ finance models that could be applied to this context.

The study was conducted in the context of a rapidly growing community ownership sector, which is being promoted by Government policy through a combination of legislation and funding. The Scottish Land Fund is now in its third iteration with an annual budget of £10m per year for the period 2016-21. The Scottish Government reported that 403 groups owned 492 parcels of land totalling 562,230 acres in June 2017.

Methodology

The research work was undertaken in 3 steps:

Step 1: Identification of Models – the team sought to identify models over and above those identified in the brief for investigation through consideration of cases with which they were familiar; interviews with representatives of community landowners and representative bodies. The team also asked the representative bodies to encourage their members to participate in an on-line survey to which 70 responses were received. This process identified a range of non-public funding models available for use by community landowners in Scotland. One of the partners in the research, Firstport, used its international connections to identify a further 2 models that could be used in Scotland.

Step 2: Assessment of Models – comprehensive semi-structured interviews gathered information on the funding models being used by community landowners, the advantages and disadvantages of each one and their acceptability to the community land sector. The interviews deliberately targeted groups who were known to have purchased and developed significant assets because of their ability to inform understandings of the benefits and disadvantages of particular models.

Step 3: Development of Report – information gathered from researching the models and interviewing community asset owners were drawn together in order to:

  • Provide an overview of available funding options
  • Identify and distinguish actual and perceived constraints
  • Identify the appropriateness of particular models for particular situations
  • Propose actions for promoting and supporting alternative funding sources for community land and asset owners.
  • Identify regulatory constraints (e.g. OSCR) and those imposed by public agencies