Common good property: statutory guidance for local authorities

How local authorities should carry out the new legal duties imposed on them by Part 8 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

Chapter 1: Establishing common good registers

1. Section 102 of the Act requires each local authority to establish and maintain a register of property which is held by the authority as part of the common good (a “common good register”). Before establishing a common good register, the Act requires a local authority to publish a list of property that it proposes to include in the register, and to consult on this list.

Publishing the list of property

2. The Act provides that the list may be published in such a way as the local authority may determine. The local authority should be consistent in how and where it publishes both the list of common good property and the resultant common good register. Both documents should be available in the same place and in the same format. The local authority must ensure that the public can inspect the list of common good property free of charge and access it electronically.

3. Members of the public should be able to access the list from the local authority’s own website. The local authority should ensure that members of the public can view the list in person at local council offices, council hubs and local libraries. The local authority should either produce paper copies of the list or ensure that staff in these locations are able to assist members of the public in viewing an electronic version.

4. The local authority should also be ready to make the list of property available in alternative languages and formats, if requested, to meet equality requirements.

Advertising the list

5. The local authority should publicise the consultation on its website, on social media or in publications which it produces. It may also be possible to invite expressions of interest from the public or have automated notifications. Equally, if the list of common good property is likely to be extensive, the local authority may also wish to place adverts or articles in local papers to reach a wider audience.

Length of consultation

6. The list of common good property should be made publicly available for comment for at least twelve weeks.

Information about property

7. The list of common good property should include enough detail about each item to enable members of the public to identify and locate individual assets. The minimum information which should be included is given in Table 1. An example of what entries in the common good register might look like is given at Annex A.

Table 1: Minimum Information for Entries in a Common Good Register



Former Burgh

The name of the burgh to which the property originally belonged.

Name of property

The name by which the asset or cash fund is generally known.

Description of property

A brief description of what the asset is, or was, if now held as cash.

Location of property

Information about the location of the asset, including a map or postcode/Unique Property Reference Number ( UPRN)/ OS reference if available. A member of the public should be able to use this information to accurately identify where the asset is.

Where the property is a common good income fund or an item is in secure storage, it is not necessary to include a precise location. For income funds, the location details should include a statement that the annual accounts of the common good will provide more information on any use of income funds.

8. When a common good property is sold, the income received becomes a common good income fund. The local authority should include in the list information about any income funds held and include information on the use of that fund.

9. When setting out the list of property, it is recommended that the list is split into sections for each of the former burghs, and then further subdivided by the type of property e.g. land, buildings, funds etc. to make it easy to navigate. Where the list contains a lot of information, the local authority should ensure that it has a search facility so that readers can easily find the information they are looking for.

10. During the consultation on the draft guidance, respondents indicated that they would like to have more information about common good property in their area, including things such as the history of the property, information about any property being leased to a third party, and the income from any leases.

It is recognised that there will be considerable variation in the quantity of information available about common good property, depending on what the asset is and how and when it was acquired. However, if the local authority does have additional information about common good property, it is encouraged to consider how it could make this available to local communities.

Accounting requirements for common good property

11. In 2007, the Local Authority Scotland Accounts Advisory Committee ( LASAAC) published guidance on Accounting for the Common Good Fund, which requires local authorities to present Common Good Fund statements separately in their accounts. It also reiterated advice from the Scottish Government that:

“For councils to fully maximise the potential of their assets, they must hold accurate records of the assets they are responsible for. This would include those assets held for the Common Good.”

12. Therefore, most local authorities will have a list of property which they already consider to be common good. It is expected that this will, in effect, form the common good list. There is no requirement on local authorities to make further checks or reconfirm titles on these assets before including them on the list, so long as they are satisfied that the information held on these properties is robust.


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