I’m sure we’ve all been encouraged to read of rural right to buy legislation being exploited by communities in, especially, the Highlands and the Western Isles. However, it looks as if the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 has always allowed, in theory, urban communities to use it but none have till now.
Action Porty took possession today of the old Portobello Church with a view to turning it into a multi-use community hub and in so doing became the first in an urban area to take advantage of the powers.
Action Porty’s vision for the building is:
‘To create a fresh and lively space that’s accessible for all, and useful for people of all ages and abilities. We will be building additions and renovations to create a space that will meet the needs of our whole community. It will be the perfect space for community groups to meet.’
The news.gov.scot site says of the act:
‘The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives communities the right to buy land and assets under certain conditions.’
Wondering what these conditions might be like, I found this from the Law Society of Scotland in 2014:
‘Plans to empower Scottish communities who want to register an interest in land in towns and cities could backfire due to the complexity of proposed changes to the law, the Law Society of Scotland said today. The Society has said the proposals to extend communities’ right to buy land to include people living in urban areas, could be thwarted by the complexity of the proposals and potentially limit rather than empower local groups and stall development plans for neglected land in urban areas.’
I couldn’t find out just what Action Porty had done to overcome these problems but the presence of this person on the board may have helped:
‘Ian Cooke (Secretary): Director of Development Trusts Association Scotland and before that various community-based posts in regeneration. Member of the Land Reform Review Group and has served on a range of boards of community organisations.’
Sounds like he may have been more difficult to thwart.