Overcoming barriers to community land-based activities: gudiance

Guidance on good practice in overcoming barriers to community land-based activities.

4. Findings

4.1 Summary of case studies and types of resolution strategies adopted

The interviewees described their experience and knowledge of a number of case studies which demonstrated the resolution of barriers to community land based activities, including the resolution strategies adopted, and associated benefits and challenges. The case studies involved community asset transfer processes around forestry and key infrastructure, such as harbours and community centres, as well as community-led affordable housing, renewable energy, crofting and non-crofting land acquisition. Examples of effective community engagement also emerged in conjunction to private water supplies, estate master-planning, as well as residential and commercial developments, in rural and urban areas, and lead by both landowners and developers. A summary table of illustrative, anonymous, case studies with positive resolutions is presented in Table 1, Appendix A.

The barriers evident in these case studies align with those presented in the classification by Roberts and McKee (2015; reproduced in Table 2, Appendix B). It is interesting to note that a common barrier highlighted by interviewees was a lack of confidence in the community body seeking to use/acquire the land asset, in particular where there is the sense that the community has not agreed a vision for the asset (and ensuring representation from the community as a whole), they do not have a viable business plan, and/or there is a lack of leadership, accountable governance structures, funding, or adequate (and apolitical) community advisory support. Interviewees also raised concerns that current land use was not considered in community land-based activity development, or the impact on existing land-based businesses. These perceived barriers from the landowning perspective provide further insights on the nature of sub-categories F and G: 'structural barriers facing communities' and 'community constraints and decisions' in the Roberts and McKee classification scheme, as well as sub-category E: 'owner unwilling to sell or lease land'.

Strategies adopted in order to overcome barriers to community land-based activities within the cases described by the interviewees can be categorised into five sets as follows:

  • Communication: Information provision for the community (by face-to-face presentation or document, e.g. newsletter) by landowners/land management representatives.
  • Community engagement: Public meetings (either development specific or pre-planned community council meetings); Charrette-type processes; negotiation; facilitation by external 'honest broker'/mediation.
  • Partnership approaches: Between proactive landowner/management and community body; estate provision of expertise and/or financial support for community land-based activity; advisors and lawyers adopt partnership principles.
  • Land access agreements: Signing of concordat between landowner, local authority, community bodies, and other actors, e.g. developers and power companies; agreement of 'meanwhile use' or special purpose vehicle for community land-based activity ( e.g. license).
  • Transfer of ownership/management rights: Provision of land/asset by landowner to community (by donation, discounted sale or market price); consideration of alternative sites; lease arrangements; partial community purchase; asset ownership jointly between community and third sector organisation.

Further details of the challenges and opportunities of these resolution strategies are considered in the following sections.


Email: Graeme Beale, socialresearch@gov.scot

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