Takeovers up for grabs

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Community groups across the region are being encouraged to consider taking over buildings or land from public bodies such as Scottish Borders Council, the police and NHS Borders.

Under the new asset transfer section of the 2015 Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act, in force since last month, community groups that meet certain criteria can request to buy, lease or use any estates, land or buildings owned by the council, health board or Police Scotland.

Community groups across the area have been buying and leasing property and land from the council for many years.

One such asset transfer was that of the public toilets at Coldingham, bought from the local authority for £1 and transformed into a post office, interpretation centre and cafe, as well as continuing to offer public conveniences.

Speaking about taking over the public toilet block in Coldingham and developing it into the Luckenbooth building, David Jones, one of those involved at the time, said: “The process went well, and because we got the site and transfer of assets, it enabled us to get a building and also build a building maintained by the community.

“The idea is good, but it needs long-term community commitment to keep it going.”

Community groups need to have a sound business plan, the support of the local community and the ability fo fund the project.

Help with planning and community consultation is available from Berwickshire Association for Voluntary Service, and a council funding officer will work with communities to identify and apply for grants that will help them achieve their aims.

Alongside the asset transfer part of the act, the Scottish Borders Community Planning Partnership will be inviting residents and community groups in the five localities in the region to get involved in planning how publicly-owned land and buildings in their area could be used more efficiently and effectively.

Further information is available online at www.
scotborders.gov.uk/assettransfer or by emailing communityengagement@scotborders.gov.uk or calling 01838 826626.