Community Asset Transfer
Community Asset Transfer is the transfer of land or buildings from the Council to the stewardship and / or ownership of a local organisation. We believe that community asset transfer is about giving local people greater control in the future of their area and their community.
Communities are often best placed to manage facilities in their local environment. They make extensive use of volunteers and their local knowledge and hands-on management of the asset is likely to result in lower overheads and better value for money, as well as a more intensive use of the asset.
Community management and ownership of assets empowers local communities, puts local organisations in control, encourages pride of place, enhances the local environment and raises local people’s aspirations. We would like to work with interested groups to help with the asset transfer process and, where possible, help secure funding.
We recognise that the way our physical assets are managed can have a very positive impact on the long-term strength of local communities and the third sector more generally.
Through asset ownership or management, community based groups can grow and become more secure, gaining access to sources of additional investment that we may not be able to access.
Community based groups are key partners in the delivery of services and provide a vital link with local people. Working in partnership with community based groups can help us achieve some of the outcomes of our Integrated Community Strategy and help promote the social, environmental and economic well being of the County.
Successful asset transfer requires a long-term partnership approach between ourselves and the community based groups that take over the management of an asset.
In 2010/11 we undertook a comprehensive review of our assets and held seminars with local groups and Town & Community Councils in various areas of the County. There has subsequently been an ongoing rationalisation programme. As part of this process, we have identified buildings and land holdings which are currently or potentially surplus.
Through discussion with various organisations we are also aware of properties that could be run and managed by community groups, Town and Community Councils and other local groups. Those assets which have been, and will be identified as surplus to our requirements, will continue to be disposed of in accordance with existing policies, which are described in the next Section.
Given financial pressures on the public sector it is anticipated that a number of non-statutory services will need to be delivered in different ways and it is expected that the delivery of these services by community based organisations (and the assets necessary to deliver those services) will play a significant role in reducing future costs.
We adopted a policy for disposal of surplus property as a result of the school's modernisation programme but these principles are now used for all assets:
- Where our assets are identified as surplus to requirements they will generally be sold on the open market.
- In exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to consider community use of the property. Such a use would only be approved if there is a clear identified need for such use in the area and where there is a Business Plan in place which demonstrates the viability of the alternative use - both in terms of the availability of capital funding for any conversion / refurbishment costs, and also for the ongoing revenue funding of the project.
- In assessing any application under this exceptions policy it will also be necessary to identify whether any requirements can reasonably be accommodated in other facilities serving the community (e.g. a proposed new extended school, local community halls, play areas, recreation grounds, public houses, churches etc.).
- Where a surplus asset is let or sold for community use; the use of the property would be restricted to community use only. Commercial uses may also be considered, subject to the funds raised being used to support community activities. We would have an option to repurchase for the original purchase price if the community use ceased, or a building was unused for 6 months or more.
- All applications for surplus assets to be made available for community use will be evaluated by the Head of Corporate Property in consultation with appropriate departmental heads. Following this appraisal, the terms of any proposed disposal for community purposes would generally be at open market value for the restricted use but would be determined by the Head of Corporate Property. Any disposal which has not been openly marketed and at less than market value would require Executive Board approval.
- If community use is agreed then we would offer community development advice and assistance and access to funding opportunities for feasibility/business planning support, on a similar basis to other community groups.
Our procedures on community asset transfer are underpinned by the following principles:
- Transfer will only be approved of property required for continuation of a service;
- Any proposed asset transfer must promote social, economic or environmental wellbeing and/or support the aims and priorities of the Authority;
- We will encourage collaboration between community based groups and the sharing of assets to optimise social value and value for money;
- Asset transfers to community based groups will be in exchange for agreement by the community based groups to deliver agreed benefits for local people;
- The proposed use of the asset is genuinely for the benefit of the community, and would offer real opportunities for successful and independent, community or third sector organisations to become more sustainable in the long term;
- The proposed use would enable communities to have more access to facilities and/or opportunities that respond to their local needs.
Expressions of interest will be welcomed from individuals, community and voluntary sector groups or Town & Community Councils. Ideally interested parties should meet the following criteria:
- They should be community-led, with strong links with the local community. Local people must be able to control the organisation’s decision making processes;
- Their primary purpose must be to enhance service provision to the local community;
- The organisation and key individuals, managing the asset and associated project, have appropriate skills, knowledge and expertise to sustain the project in the long term.
- They must be open to and demonstrate an inclusive approach to members of the wider community.
- They must not duplicate activities, services or facilities already provided in the local community.
You can complete an expression of interest online or download the form.
We will normally transfer on a leasehold basis to ensure continuation of use. In the event that the use ceases the asset would return to the Authority.
We will discuss with interested parties what length of lease would be most suitable to meet the needs and expectations of the groups and local people. Funding bodies may have requirements that must be met if a community based group is to be eligible to receive grant monies. Freehold transfers may be appropriate in exceptional circumstances e.g. specific funding requirements however, the approval of the Council would be required to such a transfer.
During the lease period we will normally expect the community organisation to be responsible for the running costs of the building, including repairs, maintenance and all insurances. Transfer discussions that have taken place to date have sometimes offered specific financial or other assistance in the transfer process which reflect specific categories of property to be transferred. While the process of evaluation will be consistent it is probable that each request will have specific issues. Each request will therefore be dealt with on a case by case basis.
We will share with any interested parties all available information regarding the condition and operating costs of any asset that may be transferred. In some cases, we may be willing to invest some money towards improving the condition of the transferring asset. The community organisation will, however, be expected to maintain the building satisfactorily after transfer. The level of any contribution (if any) would need to be proportionate to the likely future community benefits resulting from the transfer of the asset having regard to the current condition of the asset and its likely economic life. It should be noted that our funds are limited and contributions may not be available in all cases. Any group taking on an asset will be expected to take a lead role in putting and keeping the asset into repair.
We will encourage collaboration between community based groups and the sharing of assets to optimise social value and value for money.
There may be competing groups interested in the same asset. In such cases we will expect community groups to work together and organise themselves in such a way that sharing and use of the asset is optimised between them. If a joint approach is not agreed, we will balance the merits of the different organisations’ proposals and decide to which group (if any) the asset should be transferred. Failure of competing interested community organisations to collaborate on a joint approach may make it less likely that any acceptable proposal for asset transfer will be achievable. Town or Community Councils may have a role in such cases to take the lead in managing the asset on behalf of a number of users.
The transfer would normally be at market value for the proposed use of the asset, but transfer at below market value would be considered as part of the business case.
We have established a cross-departmental team of officers to deal with transfer requests, co-ordinated by the Corporate Property Division. Individuals, groups or Town & Community Councils applying for asset transfer will need to set out the following:
- Proposals for the use and maintenance of the asset
- Benefits to the Authority, the community based group and the wider/community, together with planned outcomes
- Consideration of whether there are, and will continue to be, any conflicts/overlap of other similar facilities in the locality
- Capacity of the community based group(s) to manage (and insure) the asset
- Some form of business plan, the detail of which will reflect the scale of asset being transferred
- A community governance structure (how local people will be involved in decision making in relation to the asset and its use)
- Evidence of financial support for future development
- Liabilities and how these will be addressed
We are keen for Community Asset Transfer to succeed in Carmarthenshire and will provide community groups with guidance and support to help applicants through the transfer process. The table below summarises the process the Authority will follow where an asset transfer request has been made:-
|Stage||Who is responsible||Timescale|
|Expression of interest submitted for consideration||Community Group|
|Application form appraised and recommendations made||Asset Transfer Team||6 weeks|
|Business plan submitted (if deemed necessary)||Community Group||To be agreed, depending on the circumstances|
|Appraisal of business plan (if deemed necessary)||Asset Transfer Team||6 weeks|
|Decision on whether to proceed with transfer (with Executive Board/Local Member involvement as necessary)||Asset Transfer Team||6 weeks|
|Detailed terms agreed and transfer completed||Asset Transfer Team||12 weeks|
Qualifications to the illustrative timetable above:
- These timescales run consecutively. They will be monitored and where insufficient progress is made we may withdraw from the transfer process and dispose of the asset in accordance with our Disposal Policy. We will be prepared to consider reasonable requests for extensions of time to facilitate proposals.
- Whilst community based groups are expected to take their own advice we will try to help and support them as appropriate through the application process. We will make appropriate resources available to provide that support and to appraise applications within the target timescales. In return we expect applications for transfer to contain, at each stage, sufficient information to enable appraisals to be completed and decisions made.
- Our assessment of an asset transfer request and any subsequent decision to proceed will take into account the physical condition of the building, the availability of other suitable premises from which the proposed activities could take place, support required from us to enable the transfer to proceed.
- Where there is little or no likelihood of a community based group taking over a building or area of land that has been identified for transfer and it is not considered viable for us to continue running/maintaining it, then the asset will normally be considered for disposal in line with our Disposal Policy.
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