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Transferring Local Authority Assets to the Community

All over the country, community-based organisations are taking on responsibility for managing buildings that were formerly owned by local authorities. By doing so, they can help to focus the energies of local communities and prevent these assets, which are often local landmarks, from falling into decay or inappropriate use.

Community ownership can help to secure a local service or amenity (such as a community hall or a public open space), at a time when local authorities are looking to make economies.

Local authorities can sell an asset at less than full market value where this would support a use that brings social, economic or environmental benefits for the area.

Of course, such transfers are not without their challenges. Community groups may need support and advice to help them make a success of their project, and to ensure that it remains viable through changing circumstances.

External view of the outdoor ice rink at Oxford Castle
Oxford Castle. A successful partnership between the Oxford Preservation Trust, the City Council and The Trevor Osborne Group resulted in the creation of this new cultural quarter for Oxford. © Oxford Preservation Trust: Charlotte Wood

New guidance

In 2014, Historic England (formerly English Heritage), the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust, the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Prince's Regeneration Trust and Locality came together to update the 2011 guidance document, 'Pillars of the Community: the transfer of heritage assets'.

The updated version of Pillars of the Community outlines the process for asset transfers, both from a local authority and community perspective.

It is accompanied by a number of case studies showing what can be achieved. A summary version of this guidance is also available.

If you have any questions about the guidance or the case studies (including any suggestions for additional examples) please contact Owain Lloyd-James.

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