Getting started

If you are considering taking on an asset it is essential to be sure that an asset is necessary for the delivery of your project objectives. We have developed a Route Map tool (see below) to assist you in developing your initial idea, identifying the need and then finding a suitable asset if required.

What unique opportunities will owning (or leasing) an asset bring to the delivery of your project? And what benefits might it bring for your group and community more widely? At this stage you may wish to undertake a Community Place Plan process to determine your communities needs.  

Your group may decide early on that the project does not require ongoing use of an asset, or they do not want to commit to the long-term process of developing and managing an asset. For example, if your project requires space for community activities of some kind - such as youth or arts activities – could these be delivered by hiring existing facilities in the community? Or if your project is mainly about making information more available to local people, is an information point in a physical property the most cost effective way to achieve this? Might a website or use of social media be more cost effective?

On the other hand, your group may decide that not only is control of an asset essential to deliver the project, but taking on an asset will provide opportunities for the wider community, including other local groups. Or that it will help you generate income that makes your organisation more sustainable and can be invested in further projects.

Once your group is sure it wants to take on an asset, it’s worth considering whether the group is ready. There are some overarching activities that are required and issues that will emerge throughout the process of taking on and developing an asset. These are worth considering as starting points because they are either applicable to all of the main activities you will carry out (like knowing how to work with professional advisors) or they need to be planned for at the start of the process in order for it to succeed at all (like having clear project objectives).

Some are about adopting certain attitudes, for example towards partnership working or staying focused on the need for the asset to be viable and sustainable. These issues need to be kept in the forefront of everyone’s mind as they work together to make the project a success.

If you are considering taking on an asset you need to be confident that everything is in place to ensure that the project is needed and is financially viable both now and in the future.

Here is an outline of the first  questions you need to ask, or actions you need to take when moving around the Route Map.

Phase 1: Getting Started

Who are you and what community do you represent?

If you are an individual get a few like-minded people together and start a group.

Define your community – are you a geographic community or a community bound by mutual interest e.g. sport?

Is there a need for your project and how have you identified the need?

Community consultations and a Community Action Plan

Do you need an asset to deliver the solution to the need?

What are your outline ideas?

Get you ideas down on paper.

Be clear what you want to achieve.

Who do you need to involve?

Carry out a skills audit of those involved. Do you need to bring in extra expertise or encourage others to get involved?

Have you checked out other projects?

Don’t reinvent the wheel – visit other groups who have done something similar.

Saves you time and helps you learn from others’ successes... and failures.

What factors help success?

  • A vision and clear set of priorities determined by the local community. 
  • Strong ongoing presence in, and support from, the community (i.e. being truly community-based through meaningful community involvement). 
  • Adequate financial and business planning when acquiring assets. 
  • An increasing focus on enterprise to develop sustainability of the asset and realise further opportunities. 
  • Ensuring that assets are fit for purpose. 
  • A constructive approach to asset transfer and community control of assets on the part of public bodies.
  • Strong working relationships with local agencies.
  • Capacity and leadership within the community – the skills and time to make an asset work, a history of voluntary and community action, and technical and community development support.
  • Effective governance - clarity of role and function and community buy-in, with adequate democratic control.
  • Financial sustainability - including fit-for-purpose external investment.

What factors make success more difficult?

Although there are many benefits to community ownership you need also to be aware of the stumbling blocks that make success more difficult. These stumbling blocks can be:

  • Failure to think through your real objectives and make a plan
  • Acquiring an asset that is or becomes a liability
  • Resistance to asset transfer from public bodies, lengthy negotiations for acquisition, lack of support after aquisition and unnecessary restrictions on use
  • Difficulties in recruiting volunteers, stress and burnout, and lack of support
  • Problems attracting suitable finance.

Use the menu on the left to navigate to information on some key issues that will help as you navigate these first steps.

Related Resources

Module One: Introduction to Community Asset Transfer

This module is the first in a series of six which have been produced by the Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) to support the sustainable transfer of publicly-held assets into community ownership. COSS is delivered by the Development Trusts Association for Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government.

Engaging in community asset transfer involves three core elements:

  • Examining the feasibility of an asset transfer
  • Planning for the asset transfer
  • Managing and sustaining the asset when acquired
This series of modules covers each of these areas and provides advice and guidance on making an application for asset transfer helping to ensure it is robust.
PDF icon 1 COSS module 1 - Introduction to Asset Transfer.pdf

Asset Transfer Route Map

This new PDF has been developed by Community Ownership Support Service (COSS). It is used by COSS advisors to identify where you are in the process, as laid down in Part 5; Asset Transfer, in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. It helps to guide you through the steps along the way to achieving your goals.  Side one of the poster shows the four phases of the asset transfer process and signposts each phase of the journey.  Side two gives more detail and links to relevant information for each phase.

PDF icon Asset transfer route map web.pdf