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May 16

10 amazing community-owned buildings

Assets, Community Rights, Enterprise, Localism

Some beautiful and unusual buildings and land are in community ownership.

A growing number of groups are getting together to rescue much-loved places from redevelopment or demolition – from castles and piers to public toilets.

Could your community take ownership of a local space? To inspire you, here’s a list of 10 amazing community-owned buildings in England.

Hilsea Lido, Portsmouth

Community owned building Hilside Lido
Image via Hilsea Lido facebook page

Hilsea Lido opened in 1936, during the golden years of the British lido. But by 2006 Portsmouth City Council decided it could no longer afford the lido’s upkeep. Not prepared to lose a treasured local facility, a group of residents got together and in 2010 took over Hilsea’s lease from the council. Thanks to the energy and commitment of the community, plus help from grants and fundraising, Hilsea Lido is now open throughout the summer.


Hastings Pier, Hastings

Hastings Pier
Image via the Hastings Pier Charity website

Hastings Pier was left to slowly decay and was even set on fire before a group of Hastings residents took it over in 2013 from its absent landlord, with support from Hastings Council. Now, with a Big Lottery grant, work is underway to bring the pier back to its former glory, creating new jobs and drawing more visitors to the town.


Whittington Castle, Shropshire

Image by Peter Bruffell
Image by Peter Bruffell via

The 12th century Whittington Castle sits in the middle of the village of Whittington in Shropshire. It’s England’s only community-owned and run castle and thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant has just had a £1.5m renovation. The castle is steeped in legend and rumoured to be haunted by a plethora of spooks including two ghostly children.


Fordhall Organic Farm, Shropshire

Fordhall Community Farm by Lisa Perry
Image by Lisa Perry, via

Fordhall Farm in Market Drayton was one of the first modern organic farms in the world, but in 2005 it was due to be sold to developers. A local brother and sister duo rallied the community to raise the money to buy the farm through community shares – Sting made a donation. Now Fordhall is open for business and is the UK’s first community-owned farm.


Westmill Solar Co-op Wind Farm, Oxfordshire

Westmill community owned solar farm
Image via Wikipedia under

Westmill Solar Co-operative in Oxfordshire is believed to be the world’s largest co-operatively owned solar project. It covers 30 acres and generates enough energy a year to power 1,400 homes. Westmill has 1,648 shareholders and was a runner-up in the Observer Ethical Awards 2014.


The Burrow, Devon

underground shop devon
Image via theundergroundshop.weebly

The Burrow in Exbourne is a community-owned shop with a difference – it’s underground. Like something from The Hobbit, this little shop, café and post office is built underneath a field in the centre of the village, and is the UK’s only underground shop.


Forum Cinema, Northumberland

Forum Cinema by Mike Quinn
Image by Mike Quinn via

The Forum, the only cinema in Tynedale, opened in 1937. After changing hands many times, and closing down for some years, the cinema was bought in 2007 by the Hexham Community Partnership, a community group. It now operates as a successful local business, with all profits used for the benefit of the town.


Broadhurst Park, Manchester

FC United Broadhurst park
Image via FWP Group

FC United was formed in 2005 when hundreds of disillusioned fans left Manchester United after its takeover by the Glazer group. FC United now has its own semi-professional team, entirely owned by the fans. Broadhurst Park is FC United’s home stadium and was completed in 2014.


Eardisland Community Shop, Herefordshire

Eardisland Community Shop
Image by Mark Willis

Eardisland Community Shop is probably the only shop in the world to be situated inside a dovecote. The community shop is located on the ground floor of a beautiful 17th century dovecote building, also home to the village’s information centre.


Loop de Loop, Somerset

Loop de Loop cafe and gallery Frome
Image from the Loop de Loop facebook page

A local resident helped turn a disused public toilet in Frome into a mini art gallery, by raising over £10,000 from funders, using crowdfunding website Spacehive. The quirky and creative Loop de Loop gallery now houses local art and sells food, in a little building that used to be five toilets.



Visit the Community Rights website to find out more about asset transfer, and how to list a building as an asset of community value.

Let us know about your community owned buildings, large or small – leave us a comment below.

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