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Community ownership can create vibrant urban spaces

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An event which will examine how community ownership can benefit urban areas will take place next week

The benefits of community ownership will be discussed at a summit next week.

Community Land Scotland is facilitating the second Urban Community Land Gathering which will bring together urban communities who own or are interested in buying land or other assets.

In 2016, the Community Right to Buy and the Scottish Land Fund were extended to cover urban areas. This broadening was crucial because it shows that community ownership and land reform are as relevant to urban settings as they are to rural ones. Some of the challenges faced by urban communities are different from those in rural areas.

“We believe that, in both urban and rural areas, community landownership will create vibrant places that people want to, and can afford to, make their home in the long term,” said Linsay Chalmers, development manager of Community Land Scotland.

“When we held the first Urban Gathering in Glasgow in January this year, the urban community land movement was very new so the focus was on making sure that communities knew where to go to get the support they needed.

“The urban community land movement has moved on enormously since then. Many communities have now taken ownership of land and assets and are already delivering tangible benefits, so this event will focus more on sharing stories of those early successes.”

This second gathering is an opportunity to meet fellow urban community landowners and exchange ideas as well as learn about the support available to communities on a journey to ownership. Attendees will hear from community groups in Dumfries, North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh who own a range of buildings and a 170-acre estate between them. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Scottish Land Fund, Development Trusts Association Scotland, Local Energy Scotland, Planning Aid Scotland and Community Housing Scotland during the event.

One of the groups presenting is Viewpark Conservation Group from Lanarkshire, in the process of buying a green space for their local community, what they call “our green lung”. Grace McNeill, the group’s chairwoman, said: “By bringing the 171 acre Douglas Support Estate into community ownership, we will be able to work towards improving the health and wellbeing of our people, and realise its potential as an educational and recreational resource.”

Linwood Community Development Trust is creating Mossedge Village in a community where its new football facility already has footfall of 1,000 people a week.

Peebles Community Trust has received funding from the Scottish Land Fund to buy the ex- servicemen’s club which went into administration which they will turn into a community centre. The trust already has access and it’s become the venue for the popular Men’s Shed group, which has 140 members using woodworking facilities.

Community Land Scotland represents Scotland’s new generation of community land owners. Together members are managing some 560,000 acres of land. “When communities purchase the land on which their people live and work, they are freed to reinvigorate their areas and improve the prospects of future generations,” Chalmers continued.

The free event, with lunch provided, takes place at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh on Wednesday 23 October from 10am to 3.30[m. The event is sponsored by the Scottish Government.