Scottish government consults on expanding community right to buy

Derek Mackay, Scottish local government and planning minister, says the move would give urban communities the same right to buy as rural communities

Derek Mackay
Derek Mackay

Community groups in Scotland’s towns and cities could get the right to buy public sector land and buildings under proposals put forward by the Scottish government yesterday.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, which is open for consultation until 24 January, proposes extending the community right to buy in Scotland to places with populations of more than 10,000 people, where the government is satisfied that it is in the public interest.

The law currently allows any community with a population of less than 10,000 to apply for the opportunity to buy land in the community when it comes up for sale.

The idea of extending the right to buy to cover urban areas was first mooted in a consultation on the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill, which took place from June to September 2012.

The new consultation paper also asks whether ministers should be able to expand the types of land that communities could attempt to buy to include, for example, tenanted land being bought for tenants.

The paper also proposes that small and medium-sized third sector organisations should be exempted from water and sewerage charges and says the government will consult on the idea shortly.

It also asks for opinions on a compulsory power for communities to buy neglected or abandoned land without waiting for it to be put on the market.

The paper suggests that Scottish charitable incorporated organisations should be able to register a community interest in land, which only companies limited by guarantee are able to do.

The Scottish government hopes the proposed changes will help it achieve its target of transferring one million acres of land into community ownership by 2020, which was announced in June by Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland.

Derek Mackay, Scottish local government and planning minister, said: "The bill will help community groups to take over public land and buildings where they think they can make better use of them than their current public sector owners.

"It will also reform the community right to buy, giving urban communities in Scotland the same rights as rural communities, where it is in the public interest."

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