Publication - Advice and guidance

Community right to buy abandoned, neglected or detrimental land: full guidance

Published: 9 Nov 2018

Guidance in relation to Part 3A of Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 intended to support communities through the right to buy process from initial identification of land to the completion of a purchase.

Community right to buy abandoned, neglected or detrimental land: full guidance
1.1. Initial steps

1.1. Initial steps

Starting out

1.1.1. Should a community decide that a Part 3A right to buy is the best way to resolve their concerns about the relevant land, they will need to undertake considerable preparation prior to making an application. There are several tasks that a community will need to undertake before they can submit an application under the Part 3A right to buy, some of which are compulsory and are required by the Act, and others which, from a practical perspective, must be completed before they can prepare a compliant application. The Act requires that before an application is submitted, the community:

  • forms a compliant Part 3A community body;
  • if the Part 3A CB is of the view that the use or management of the land is such that it is resulting in or causing harm to the environmental wellbeing of the community then they must contact any relevant regulator(s) and request that they take action in relation to the land that might remedy or mitigate the harm before they are able to submit an application;
  • the Part 3A CB must have tried to buy the land from the current landowner before submitting an application; and
  • the Part 3A CB must establish community support in relation to the Part 3A application which is then demonstrated by way of a ballot of the defined community (further information below).
  • In order to prepare and submit an application, the Part 3A CB will also need to:
  • identify the land and interests in land that it is seeking to acquire;
  • identify the purposes for which they propose to use the land; and
  • identify the resources needed to acquire that land and interests.

1.1.2. Communities are strongly advised to discuss their plans for forming a Part 3A CB with the Scottish Government's Community Land Team before they formally constitute the community body (contact details at Annex B). The team can provide information on what is required in order to make a Part 3A CB's governing documents compliant with the Act, and discuss the right to buy process before completing the application form. Further sources of help are also available from the main contacts detailed in this guidance (Annex B).

Identifying the financial resources needed

1.1.3. The Part 3A CB will not need to pay for the land they acquire until the land is transferred but it is important that they seek an early assessment of the likely cost of its acquisition. This is particularly important since they must have already tried to buy the land before submitting an application. They may be required to pay compensation to the landowner for loss and expenses of the land that the they are seeking to acquire. They should also consider the potential development costs, as well as those costs associated with the application process itself, such as ownership searches, postage etc.

1.1.4. Such an assessment will:

  • provide information that can be disseminated to the community when they are balloted on whether to proceed with the application;
  • provide information which can be presented to prospective funding sources in order to assess funding and financial support requirements; and
  • provide supporting information about the proposed use, development and management for use in the application.

1.1.5. It is highly recommended that professional advice is obtained to assess likely costs. Instructing a chartered valuation surveyor who is suitably experienced in the type of property to be acquired will enable an assessment of the value of the land. A chartered valuation surveyor will also be able to give a clear indication of the potential cost in advance of making an application to Ministers. It should be noted that, in order to provide an accurate assessment of the value of the land, a valuer who is employed by the Part 3A CB will need to have the co-operation of the owner of the land they are seeking to acquire. If this is not possible, they may still be able to provide an indicative value.

1.1.6. In addition, the Part 3A CB will have to pay for the cost of running a ballot, although they may be entitled to claim for reimbursement of at least some of these costs (see Section 1.5.23).

1.1.7. The Scottish Government provides financial support to community groups seeking to acquire land and land assets, through the Scottish Land Fund ("SLF"). The SLF can provide assistance to groups for carrying out feasibility studies and site investigations prior to making a decision to purchase. For further information see


Email: Community Land Team