In the past, relevant authorities would be expected to go through a process of evaluation of an asset before it was declared surplus and therefore available for disposal or transfer to a community group. If no community group was interested then the asset would be available for private sale.
With the advent of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, all relevant authorities listed in the Act (including local authorities) are now obliged to accept Asset Transfer Requests for any asset, it does not have to be declared surplus to be available - and the Act gives communities the power to request ownership, lease or management of any asset.
Previously it was prudent to be clear on the properties that were available for asset transfer and how requests from community groups for properties not identified as surplus would be dealt with. With the Community Empowerment Act 2015 a Register of Land must be available both online and in hard copy, identifying all properties owned or leased by the relevant authority - this is a legal requirement.
Key considerations include:
- Has the authority carried out an audit of all its properties with a detailed assessment of the condition of the fabric?
- Publication of the Register of Land, including by website.
- The production of annual reports on asset transfer.
- Asset balancing - where assets that have value for the local community but may not, in the current climate or due to existing commitments or burdens, be viable, are transferred along with other assets with higher earning potential, for example, a community centre and one or two car parks.
- Consideration of the information to be provided to communities who have made an asset transfer request.
In preparing the Register of Land, the authority may also wish to ascertain the following:
- Which properties it has title to and which are leased.
- Whether there are any title conditions which will have implications for the transfer, or, for example, restrictions on use, common good status or applicability of the Crichel Down Rules.
- Whether the value (at best consideration) that could be achieved for the property is known.