Abandoned, Neglected or Detrimental Land

Part 3A of Land Reform Act Abandoned, Neglected or Detrimental land 

 

Section 74 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, which came into force on 27 June 2018, introduces a new Part 3A into the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which allows qualifying community bodies to apply to buy land (including buildings) which is either:

  • wholly or mainly abandoned or neglected; or
  • being used or managed in a way that results in or causes harm to the environmental wellbeing of a relevant community

If an application is successful, then the existing landowner is required to sell the land to the community body on terms set out in the Act. In other words, the sale to the community is not contingent on the landowner deciding to put the land or buildings on the market as with the existing Community Right to Buy under Part 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, but is effectively a compulsory purchase.

Further details on what land is eligible, the application process and compensation available to landowners are set out in separate pieces of Secondary Legislation.

Note: the following is not an exhaustive summary of this right, but simply seeks to highlight some key provisions – please refer to the Full Guidance Notes for details, or contact the crtb [at] gov [dot] scot (Scottish Government’s Community Land Team).

 

What is taken into account when deciding whether land is abandoned or neglected?

The legislation does not give a definition of ‘abandoned or neglected’, with it being for the community body making the application to justify why they consider the land to qualify.  

When deciding whether land is abandoned or neglected, it’s necessary to take into account:

  • the physical condition - including how long it has been in that condition, whether it is a risk to public safety, has a detrimental effect on adjacent land, or causes environmental harm;
  • matters relating to the designation or classification of the land – including whether or not any part of it forms part of a nature reserve, conservation area or special site, whether there are any listed buildings or scheduled monuments on the site, and any relevant policies in a local development plan, strategic development plan or National Planning Framework 3; and
  • matters relating to the use or management of the land – including extent to which they are used or managed for lawful public recreation or leisure activities or for preserving or conserving the natural, historic or built environment, and whether any such activity requires a permit or licence.

 

What is taken into account when deciding whether land is being used or managed in a way that results in or causes harm to the environmental wellbeing of a relevant community

When deciding whether land is being used or managed in a way that results in or causes harm to the environmental wellbeing of a relevant community, it is necessary to take into account:

  • matters relating to the use or management of the land – including extent to which they are used or managed for lawful public recreation or leisure activities or for preserving or conserving the natural, historic or built environment, and whether any such activity requires a permit or licence.
  • matters relating to the effect on the relevant community – including whether the use or management has caused a statutory nuisance and whether any warning notices, closure notice or closure order has been issued or made under the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004.

 

What land is eligible?

Certain land is excluded from the scope of the legislation, including:

  • land on which there is a building that is an individual’s home (except where it is occupied under a tenancy), and land pertaining to any such home;
  • eligible croft land, or any croft occupied or worked by its owner or a member of the owner’s family;
  • land which is owned or occupied by the Office of Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR)

 

Who can apply?

This right is open to the same types of community groups as the existing Community Right to Buy, namely:

  • Companies Limited by Guarantee, the articles of association of which meet the criteria set out in the legislation;
  • Scottish Charitable Incorporated Associations (SCIOs), the constitution of which meets the criteria set out in the legislation; and
  • Community Benefit Societies (BenComs), the registered rules of which meet the criteria set out in the legislation.

 

What needs to be done before an application can be made?

For an application to be successful, a number of criteria must be satisfied, including being able to demonstrate that:

  • the purchase of the land by the community body would be in the public interest and would further the achievement of sustainable development, whereas continued ownership by the current owner would not;
  • there is community support for the proposed purchase (demonstrated by means of a ballot of the whole community);
  • the community body has first tried to negotiate the purchase of the land from the landowner;
  • the same (or similar) group must not have been offered the land in the previous 12 months; and
  • where an application is made on the basis that the management or use of the land is causing harm to the environmental wellbeing of the community, the community has first approached any relevant regulator to take action to address this. A relevant regulator might be, for example, SEPA.

 

Who to contact for further information or to find out more about making an application to buy land which you consider to be abandoned, neglected or to be causing harm to the environmental wellbeing to your community?

The Scottish Government’s Community Land team can provide further guidance to anyone interested in the right to buy abandoned, neglected or detrimental land, or any matter relating to this.

Tel: 0300 244 9822 or 0300 244 1945 or email: crtb [at] gov [dot] scot


Related Resources

Community Right to Buy Abandoned, Neglected or Detrimental Land - Full Guidance

This guidance is intended to support communities through the right to buy abandoned, neglected or detrimental land process. The guidance covers most aspects from the initial identification of land to the completion of a purchase. It provides a step-by-step guide, setting out the considerations that need to be taken into account, the legal requirements that must be met and the various decision-making stages. Although the majority of the information is relevant to community groups, there is also useful information for landowners and other parties who may have a reason to be involved in the process.

PDF icon Community Right to Buy Abandoned, Neglected or Detrimental Land - Full Guidance.pdf