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Plans to make it easier to buy public land

This news post is almost 10 years old

​Community empowerment bill includes extending community right to buy and protection for allotments

A new law will make it easier for people to take over public sector land and buildings according to the Scottish Government.

The community empowerment (Scotland) bill published on Tuesday wants to extend community right to buy to cover all parts of Scotland, both urban areas and larger rural towns, as part of plans to have one million acres in community ownership by 2020.

The bill now provides opportunities to make progress on a number of the measures around increased community land rights

The bill, which has been in development since 2011, will include provision for communities to take over public sector land and buildings where they can show they can deliver greater public benefit with those assets.

Buildings which are derelict or underused could be targeted by those who want to transform spaces into play facilities or social halls for example.

The government said the bill is designed to strengthen and nurture community participation and encourage enterprising community development.

Local government minister Derek Mackay said: “This bill is about enabling people and communities throughout Scotland to make their own decisions and to build their own future.

“Reforming the community right to buy, giving urban communities in Scotland the same rights as rural communities, and creating access to public land and buildings is a momentous step forward.

“This legislation will empower communities who wish to take over public land and buildings where they think they can make better use of them than their current public sector owners and ensure their ambitions are supported by public bodies.”

MacKay confirmed to support the aims of the bill the People and Communities Fund, which is a means for people in disadvantaged communities to be given support to carry out community-led regeneration work, will be topped up by £1.5 million – meaning £9.4m will be available per year in 2015-16.

Commenting on the bill, David Cameron, chair of Community Land Scotland, said: “The forthcoming community empowerment bill now provides opportunities to make progress on a number of the measures around increased community land rights in and we want to see it used to maximum effect and welcome this opportunity.”

Rules on Scotland's local authority allotment sites will also be simplified to strengthen the duty on councils to provide sites triggered by actual demand and existing sites will be protected from closure.

Jenny Mollison, committee member of the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society, said there has been a surge in demand for more facilities to be made available.

“The proposed legislation has the potential to bring the provision of allotments in Scotland into the twenty-first century,” she said.

“An overhaul of outdated allotment laws, some of which date back to the nineteenth century, is long overdue so that local authorities are obliged to meet the demand for allotments.”