Council’s commitment to supporting the transfer of community assets

The Community Empowerment Act places a requirement on local authorities to publish an annual report on community asset transfer activity for each financial year and to submit this to the Scottish Government.

The Council’s annual report for 2019/20 shows that a total of 12 asset transfer requests were received. Of these, 8 have so far been approved by Councillors; 7 to take over ownership and 1 for rental.

Chair of the Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said: “The purpose of community asset transfer within community empowerment legislation is to enhance and increase community benefit outcomes in local communities through better use of assets.  

“Our annual report submitted to the Scottish Government highlights a very positive picture of Highland Council supporting the transfer of assets to community bodies as over last year we have released capital assets totalling £390,000 and annual lease payments of £12,840. Our staff look forward to working with more community groups over the next 12 months to help move forward sustainable local projects that bring benefits to people living in and visiting the Highlands.”

At today’s Communities and Place Committee members gave the go-ahead to transfer key community assets in Wick, Acharacle and Inverness

Unanimous support was given for the sale of Acharacle Community Centre for £30,000 to Acharacle Community Company.

The Centre hosts an impressive range of community groups, activities and commercial offerings to a large and diverse range of local groups including mother and toddler, inter-generational lunches, local committees and constituency surgeries, Ewen’s Room (a local mental health charity), physical and mental health therapists, Friday night take-away fish and chips, and a ‘re-use’ shop.

The Community Company have operated the Centre since 2012 on a monthly lease basis, but the transfer of ownership will allow them a secure tenure, so they can attract funding for renovations to sustain and extend the range of activities offered by the popular local community “hub”.

In Caithness Wick Community Hub have successfully applied to buy the land and buildings at Rosebank Playing Fields and Pavilion for £1. The not for profit community charity already manages the facility and once the sale goes through, will be able to attract funding for increased activities and capital improvements, including to improve the energy efficiency of the pavilion.

The Hub has worked hard to make all the facilities affordable and accessible to local residents and visitors, attracting a growing number of users of all ages to enjoy the tennis courts, football area, crazy golf, putting, bowling, bouncy castle and take part in various children's activities. The council currently maintains the grounds but not the bowling green. Under the transfer agreement the Council would no longer have responsibility for maintenance of the gardens.

By transferring the land and buildings the opportunity to attract capital investment will be opened up so these outdoor sports and recreational activities can be safeguarded and expanded which will benefit the health and social wellbeing of the community. Planned improvements include better wheelchair accessibility to the pavilion, the installation of energy efficiency measures and the renovation of the tennis courts and football playing surface.

The third transfer agreed by the Committee was the sale of approximately 400sqm of land at the former Torvean Golf Course to Inverness Rowing Club for £1.

The Club plans include the creations of warm, dry and comfortable boathouse facilities and storage space on the area of land which is adjacent to land it already leases from Scottish Canals. With a growing membership, the Club is thriving, and playing a role in the health and wellbeing of people. The new facilities will not only improve capacity to allow more rowers to enjoy taking part in the sport but aspirations include the formation of an Inverness School’s Rowing Association and developing more partnerships with the wider community.

Cllr Allan Henderson said: “By agreeing to transfer these three assets today we are empowering the community groups behind the projects to safeguard access to facilities and services. They will now be able to use their experience and enthusiasm to move forward and enhance what they currently offer. A lot of hard work has been done by everyone involved to reach out to people living nearby and visitors and to develop new partnerships and ways of delivering services.

“In all three cases the groups behind the plans have demonstrated that they have robust and clear business plans in place, are good at engaging with their local community and they also have an impressive track record in making things happen, so I wish them all every success for the future.”


19 Aug 2020