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Welcome to the Scottish Community Land Network

This site is for people interested in the management and ownership of land-based assets by communities in Scotland. A Scottish Community Land Network, you might say... As you know the internet is a big 'place' with everything about anything so we brought you relevant news and events, and provide opportunities to share ideas with other people interested in this subject. There are almost 1000 members, and more than 800 articles in our archive.

 

Scottish Community Land Network will not be kept up-to-date after March 2012. However, a new site is being produced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and details will be published on this site as soon as they are available.

The most recent articles are available on the home page - previous articles are in their relevant topic areas (browse the 'Topics' menu on the left).

Background information

Land ownership and the community right to buy

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Land ownership has always been a contentious subject in Scotland.  But towards the end of the twentieth century, viagra sale viagra it was propelled to centre stage as land reform became a more significant part of Scottish rural development policy.   The Land Reform Act was first proposed by the Land Reform Policy group, chaired by Lord Sewel (then Minister for agriculture, environment and fisheries).  The group produced three documents, two of which were formal consultation documents.  In ‘Identifying the solutions’, published in September 1998, they suggested a vision for the future which should include “More scope for community ownership and management of local land where this can be sustainable”.  They also suggested that this could be implemented by introducing a community right to buy at market value.  By doing so, they hoped to go some way towards removing some of the land based barriers to the sustainable development of rural communities.  

Once the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999, the legislative process began, starting with the repeal of feudal law in 2000 and culminating in the passing of The Land Reform (Scotland) Act in 2003.  The second part of the Act is known as the ‘Community Right to Buy’ and sets out the terms under which communities can register an interest in the future purchase of an area of land.

The community right to buy doesn’t apply to all land across Scotland.  In the original act land in settlements of greater than 3000 people was excluded, although this was then changed in 2004 so that only land in settlements of greater than 10,000 people was excluded.  

The right to buy could probably be more accurately described as a right to register an interest in buying.  Communities can register their interest in a future acquisition of land by applying to Scottish Ministers.  To be successful the application needs, amongst other things, to come from a formally constituted community group who are registered as a company limited by guarantee.  They must also be able to demonstrate the wider support of the local community for the application and complete all application forms to the satisfaction of Ministers.  

If the application is successfully registered, the community group can do no more unless the landowner decides to sell.  If the landowner does decide to sell the land, they must inform both Ministers and the community group.  The group then have 30 days to decide if they wish to proceed with a purchase.  If they do, an independent valuer is appointed, to ensure that the land is sold at the market price.  

In contrast, Part 3 of the Land Reform Act covered the right to buy for crofting communities.  This gives them the right to acquire and control the croft land where they live and work and is not dependent on the land being put up for sale.  Instead the right to buy for crofting communities can be exercised at any time, effectively forcing a sale.  

Since the legislation was enacted, there have been over 100 attempted registrations by community groups under Part 2 of the Act.  Not all of these have been successful and, at present, there are around 50 areas of land where communities have successfully registered their right to buy.  For these areas, if the land comes up for sale, the community group in question will have first refusal.  Only six community groups have proceeded to the next stage and been able to activate their right to buy when a landowner decided to sell.  

In early 2009 comments were made by Scottish Ministers that suggested there may be changes to the right to buy process in the future.

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