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Tornagrain | New Town Development

We act for Tornagrain Limited, part of the Moray Estates group, in connection with the development of the Tornagrain new town.

Key points of consideration for a Community Asset Transfer

An introduction to Community Asset Transfers

For community based organisations, owning a property can provide a sustainable income stream and a secure base for community activities, service delivery and local enterprise. Community based ownership of property or other local assets also enables the local community to take control of buildings or spaces which are important and sometimes vital to the local community and local economy, as well as providing spaces to meet the needs and priorities of the local area.

A Community Asset Transfer (“CAT”) is one possible solution for the transfer of a publicly owned asset (usually land or buildings) to a community organisation at less than market value, or for nil consideration (no cost). The idea behind a CAT is to create a recognised process for a community body to request the transfer of property from a public authority to make better use of that property for the benefit of the community. The availability of a CAT recognises that in many instances local community based charities are better placed to serve the local community and meet its needs and may have a longer term plan for the community.

The CAT process is governed by Part 5 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”) which sets out the key rights and duties and provides an overall framework for the CAT process. It is important to note that a CAT is not the same thing as a community right to buy which can also apply to privately owned land/property, and not just land/property owned by a Relevant Authority (see relevant section). It should also be noted that some Councils have a policy on CATs which sets out the process to be followed, which should make the steps clearer to a community body seeking to utilise a CAT.

Organisations looking to pursue a CAT need to be aware of a number of issues and requirements to ensure that any property supports their charitable aims both now and in the future, and to avoid the pitfalls which may hinder them.

There is a lot to consider as an organisation looking to pursue a CAT, due to the unique and sometimes restrictive nature of the CAT process. It is often a case of balancing several interests, including those of the Community Transfer Body and the relevant authority. We have acted for a number of charities and other organisation in acquiring property and navigating and balancing the various issues that can arise.

We would highly recommend speaking to a solicitor at the very outset of negotiations with a relevant authority to acquire any land or property to ensure that the terms and conditions agreed to are not overly restrictive. It becomes more burdensome to vary or remove the conditions attached to a CAT once the decision notice has been issued.

If you have any questions about the matters raised in this article, please contact our Charities team and we would be delighted to talk you through the process.

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