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What are community assets?

We believe community ownership of local land or buildings helps neighbourhood to thrive and creates long-term resilience.

Community assets - Hebden Bridge Town Hall
Hebden Bridge Town Hall, owned by the local community

Community assets are land or buildings owned by a community

Community assets are land and buildings owned or managed by community organisations. These assets cover a wide spectrum and include town halls, community centres, sports facilities, affordable housing and libraries.

Not all land and buildings are community assets. We believe that land and buildings are only community assets if they are capable of generating a profit that can be reinvested into activities that benefit the community.

For advice and guidance on community assets, visit the My Community website, run by Locality.

New momentum for community ownership

Community ownership of assets is not new. Many Locality members already own and run community assets throughout the country – see our case studies – and community asset ownership has a history going back hundreds of years.

However, in recent times, community ownership and management of land and buildings has been given fresh momentum as a result of influential reports, Government policy and the work of community-based organisations.

What is Community Asset Transfer?

At its simplest level, community asset transfer is a change in management and / or ownership of land or buildings, from public bodies, (most commonly local authorities), to communities, (community and voluntary sector groups, community enterprises, social enterprises, etc).

The spectrum of transfer options can vary widely, but communities typically take on the ownership or management of a community asset on either a freehold, long lease, shorter lease or a licence to occupy basis. However, for most transfers, where grants or loans are required to develop the asset, the length of tenure will need to be long enough to secure external investment. Therefore, community asset transfer is usually taken to mean a long lease, of at least 25 years, or a freehold.

The Asset Transfer Unit (ATU)

Until 2012 Locality (and the Development Trust Association before us) ran the government-funded Asset Transfer Unit.

The ATU is no longer running. However all the knowledge, expertise and skills from that project are still at the core of our work.

If you want advice on community asset transfer (ie the transfer of ownership and management of land or building from the local authority to a local community group) please visit the My Community site, run by Locality.