8. Views on Principle 3 of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement
More local communities should be given the opportunity to own buildings and land which contribute to their community’s wellbeing and future development.
Question 6: Do you agree with Principle 3 of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement? Please provide comments.
8.1 48 (77%) respondents answered the first part of Question 6. Of these, 37 agreed with Principle 3 of the Statement. Table 8.1 summarises views by category of respondent.
Table 8.1 Views on Principle 3 by category of respondent
|Category||Agree||Disagree||No. of respondents providing a view|
|Private Sector and Professional Bodies||6||1||7|
|Community Organisations and their Representative Bodies||3||2||5|
|Government and NDPBs||2||0||2|
8.2 The majority of individuals and organisations who provided a view agreed with Principle 3.
8.3 39 respondents provided further relevant commentary in response to Question 6, and their views are summarised below.
General views in support of Principle 3
8.4 Respondents from a range of sectors supported the Principle, with a few highlighting existing evidence of positive benefits arising from broadening the opportunities for communities to own buildings and land.
8.5 One individual considered that the Principle would help to address what they had observed as difficulties frequently faced by communities in obtaining land at the edge of settlements for community use, such as play areas for children.
8.6 An Academic Body welcomed in particular the reference in the supporting text to leasing land.
Views on possible additions to Principle 3
8.7 A few respondents suggested that in view of the potential benefits to communities of leasing buildings and land, reference to leasing should be included in the Principle’s title.
8.8 Another suggestion was for including reference to “having access to” in addition to owning or leasing. It was remarked that some community groups, particularly in remote, rural areas, might want to make use of property without having to take responsibility for its maintenance.
8.9 Two National NGOs suggested that communities of interest rather than local communities should be given the opportunity to own buildings and land. One remarked that the resulting contribution may be in a national rather than local interest.
8.10 One National NGO considered that the natural environment should be added along with buildings and land, as communities may wish the opportunity to shape, protect and enhance this.
8.11 Another National NGO suggested inserting “may” in the second paragraph of supporting text, between “organisations” and “deliver”, as not all community organisations are wholly successful.
Views on realising Principle 3
8.12 A few National NGOs commented that the opportunities for owning and leasing buildings and land need to be communicated effectively to local communities for them to be aware of these possibilities.
8.13 Some respondents, across a range of sectors, expressed concern that local communities may lack the capacity and skills to realise Principle 3. They suggested that support be put in place to underpin the transfer and sustainable management of assets by local communities, in order to combat, for example, “volunteer fatigue”. One private company suggested that community bodies should be required to demonstrate they have the appropriate financial resources and general capacity needed to acquire and further invest in land.
8.14 A few respondents emphasised what they perceived to be the need to mitigate against minority, vocal bodies or individuals, who may be steering the actions of communities in taking ownership of buildings and land.
8.15 One National NGO called for clear mediation services and access to the Ombudsman for small, local organisations involved in owning and leasing land and buildings. A private company considered that rights to community ownership should be balanced with an emphasis on rights of landowners too.
Views opposing Principle 3
8.16 The most common view opposing Principle 3 was that this is not needed as, firstly, communities already have the opportunity for ownership by virtue of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, and, secondly, Principle 2 already encompasses Principle 3.
8.17 A few respondents provided their view that rather than focus on ownership, the emphasis in Principle 3 should be on utilisation of buildings and land.
8.18 An individual respondent considered that the Principle constituted neither a right nor a responsibility, and prioritises one approach over the diverse approaches which were suggested in Principle 2.
Email: Chris Bierley, email@example.com
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House