Housing & Commuities
  • Education
    The role of education in raising awareness of land management practices is of critical importance, and Scottish Land & Estates is committed to working with others such as RHET to ensure that land management is fully integrated into the Curriculum for Excellence.  Scottish Land & Estates also wishes to see the strategy for education widened to encompass of all Scotland’s society, and we will be:
    • Focusing on a communications strategy and associated plan to raise awareness of the positive contribution of land managers
    • Raising awareness of the wealth of public benefits delivered by our members
    • Developing resources which can be used to educate specific sections of society on land management issues

    Education is a key component of our access work, and Scottish Land & Estates continues to call for a strong and well funded public outdoor access education campaign.


  • Community right to buy

    The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides an opportunity for rural communities and crofting communities to buy land.

    Under Community Right to Buy if a rural community is interested in buying land this depends on the landlord deciding to sell the land. The community can register an interest in the land, then if the land comes up for sale they have first choice to buy the land.

    Under Crofting Community Right to Buy, crofting communities have the right to buy the croft land where they live and work and this is in effect a forced sale as it does not require a willing seller.

    The community right to buy allows communities with a population of less than 10,000 in Scotland to apply to register an interest in land and the opportunity to buy that land when it comes up for sale. To take advantage of the Community Right to Buy process, communities must submit an application form to register an interest. All applications to register an interest in land are recorded in the Register of Community Interests in Land (RCIL) held by the Registers of Scotland.

    After an application has been submitted and passed initial checks, it is forwarded to the landowner and if applicable any heritable creditor, for their comments. At this stage a temporary Prohibition is placed on the landowner or heritable creditor preventing them from transferring or marketing the land. Any comments submitted by the landowner will be fully considered by Scottish Ministers when making their decision to approve or reject the application.

    The "Right to Buy" can only be activated when the landowner has indicated that the registered land is to be sold or where the provisions of the Act have been breached.

    Once a community body which holds a registered interest in the land for sale, confirms that it wishes to proceed with its "Right to Buy", it has six months to conclude the transfer of land or longer if agreed with the landowner.

    Further details, including guidance for landowners, can be found on the Scottish Government website. 


    The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee agreed in early 2010 to commission external research on the implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, widely regarded as one of the most ambitious Acts passed by the Parliament in its first session. The research was to focus on the two most significant aspects of that law:

    • Provisions on access rights to rural land
    • The creation of the community right to buy rural land (available in slightly different forms to crofting and non-crofting communities).

    The Centre for Mountain Studies was contracted to undertake the research and produce a report to the Committee. The Centre undertook its work over late spring and summer 2010, and reported to the Committee in September 2010 (read the executive summary of the report here). The Committee concluded its considerations by writing a letter to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change in March 2011.



    LEADER is an acronym for ‘Liaison Entre Actions de Developpement de L'Economie Rurale’ or ‘Links between actions for the development of the rural economy.

    LEADER is an integral element of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP). The aim of LEADER is to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity in rural communities through locally driven rural development initiatives and projects.

    Funding is awarded by Local Action Groups (LAGs) who take decisions on projects which are aimed at stimulating the rural economy and building capacity in communities and business networks.
    The current LEADER programme runs up to, and including, the year 2013.

    Policy position: 

    Scottish Land & Estates believes that private property rights come with social and environmental responsibilities. To this end it is important for the land-based sector to be represented on LAGs and has the opportunity to comment on applications which have an impact on rural communities.

    Current areas of work: 

    Scottish Land & Estates is currently represented on many of the 20 LAGs which combined cover 95% of rural Scotland. These include:
  • New Housing Supply
    Scottish Land & Estates believes that a range of flexible options must be created to deliver local solutions to housing need. Scottish Land & Estates is working to increase the affordable housing supply in rural Scotland by:
    • Increasing effective land supply through planning, infrastructure and stakeholder engagement.
    • Bringing empty and redundant buildings back into use.
    • Working in partnership with public sector bodies.
    • Raising awareness of rural planning policy to facilitate affordable housing, particularly in relation to rural exception sites.
    • Providing advice and guidance on current delivery mechanisms, such as the provision of affordable self build plots with rural housing burdens attached.
    • Supporting those developing properties through the rural homes for rent grant pilot and lobbying the Scottish Government for further funding for this delivery mechanism.
    • Partnership working with other agencies to develop innovative solutions.
    • Exploring the use of legal and planning agreements to deliver affordable housing in perpetuity.



  • Planning Policy

     The overall aim of the Scottish Planning System is delivery of a planning service that is efficient, inclusive, fit for purpose and sustainable.

    There are three main parts to the planning system:

    • Development Plans
      which set out how places should change and also set out the policies used to make decisions about planning applications.
    • Development Management
      the process for making decisions about planning applications.
    • Enforcement
      the process that makes sure that development is carried out correctly and takes action when development happens without permission or when conditions have not been followed.

    Each council area in Scotland is covered by a local development plan, which sets out where most new developments are proposed and the policies that will guide decision-making on planning applications.

    If you live in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow or any of the following council areas - Aberdeenshire, Angus, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire or West Lothian - there will also be a strategic development plan covering all or part of your area. The strategic development plan sets out the long-term development of the city region and deals with region-wide issues such as housing and transport.

    Councils can also prepare supplementary guidance. A wealth of information on the planning system is available on the Scottish Government website. 

    After significant representation by Scottish Land & Estates, local authorities across Scotland are adopting the positive messages set out with the consolidated Scottish Planning Policy. Supportive planning policy is critical to rural development whether for housing or business and diversification.

    Scottish Land & Estates can provide advice and support to members on planning policy issues but is unable to advise on individual planning applications.

    Scottish Land & Estates Responds to Amendments to the Modernised Planning System

    Scottish Land & Estates recently responded to the Scottish Government's consultation entitled Amendments to the Modernised Planning System. Scottish Land & Estates is supportive of the majority of the proposals contained within the consultation, although has advised that the proposed amendments will not address the issues being experienced  in relation to neighbour notification and bare land.
    Letter from Chief Planner on Affordable Housing  

    The Scottish Government's Chief Planner, Jim Mackinnon, has written to all local authorities regarding affordable housing policies and the importance of these reflecting the current economic climate.

  • Private Rented Sector
    In some rural areas the private rented sector is often the main, or only, housing option for those unable to purchase a home on the open market. Over the last few years the sector has seen a number of changes, largely through increased regulation and reform of the housing benefit system. 

    Scottish Land & Estates is working with members, the Scottish Government, local authorities and other stakeholders  to ensure that the Private Rented Sector plays an important role in the provision of good quality, effective housing supply.




  • Rural Services
    The Scottish Land & Estates believes that rural communities must have adequate access to local services. The cost of delivery often means that market forces may result in a decline in provision, and new services may never reach certain rural localities. This exclusion is not acceptable; there is, therefore, a need for public intervention to assist in ensuring social inclusion and the sustainability of rural communities.

    The access to services was one of the key aspects of Speak up for Rural Scotland, a document produced by the Rural Development Council, which contained a vision for rural Scotland:
    • Active and confident communities
    • The best connected place
    • Competitive enterprise creating employment opportunities
    • World rated natural and built environment
    The document also contained a number of step changes required to achieve this vision. The Scottish Land & Estates welcomed the publication of the document but suggested that more focus was required on economic sustainability and also that further detail was required in terms of implementation.
    In March the Scottish Government published a response to Speak up for Rural Scotland, entitled Our Rural Future, which makes a number of commitments in relation to rural services.  
  • Social Farming & Allotments
    Social farming and allotments are key components of the Scottish Government’s Health Strategy and Food and Drink Strategy. Scottish Land & Estates is a member of the Care Farming Scotland and the Grown Your Own Working Group, and is committed to progressing the social farming and grow your own agendas.

    What is Care Farming?

    Care farming promotes mental and physical health through giving people the opportunity to spend time working on the land.

    Those who can benefit include people with learning difficulties, work-related stress, mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems or employability challenges.

    Care farming is a partnership between land manager, service provider and client. Participants can work on traditional farms or in forestry, horticulture and other land management activities. Care farming combines care of the land with care of people and there is evidence that it can deliver great personal, social and economic benefits for everyone involved.

    Care farming boosts the rural economy by helping farms and other rural businesses stay economically viable through diversification into an activity that can generate significant income.

    Further information on care farming.
    Grown Your Own Working Group
    The remit of the group is to:
    1. Ensure that allotments and ‘grow your own’ projects are strategically supported.
    2. Produce practical advice and best practice guidelines that will appeal to individuals, community groups and public bodies, to help them develop local ‘grow your own’ initiatives.
    3. Explore the evidence around food poverty in Scotland in different income groups and areas (both urban and rural), looking in more detail at what activities are already being done and developing an action plan for supporting and promoting successful future approaches.
    4. Identify how community food groups and social enterprises can be supported to deliver a long--term strategic programme for a stronger community food and health sector.

    You can read more, including the Grow Your Own Working Group’s report

  • Transport
    Scotland's National Transport Strategy (NTS) was published in December 2006, and introduces three key strategic outcomes:
    • Improve journey times and connections between our cities and towns and our global markets to tackle congestion and provide access to key markets - wealthier and fairer, safer and stronger.
    • Reduce emissions to tackle climate change - safer and stronger, wealthier and fairer.
    • Improve quality, accessibility and affordability of transport, to give people the choice of public transport and real alternatives to the car - greener, healthier, smarter.

    Summary version of the National Transport Strategy

    Scottish Land & Estates has made representation on a number of transport related issues, including:

    • Fairer treatment for 4 x 4 owners in rural areas.
    • Reduction in fuel duty for rural areas.
  • Historic Environment


    Scottish Land & Estates’ members manage and own a significant proportion of the historic environment in Scotland, both built and natural. Each year our members invest a significant sum of money in managing the natural heritage, repairing historic buildings, welcoming millions of visitors, paying and non-paying, and making many thousands of applications for planning permission and listed building consent.

    Scottish Land & Estates' members are by far the biggest 'owner' stakeholder group in the heritage field. Rural heritage tourism is estimated to be worth between £900 million and £1.5 billion per annum to the Scottish economy.

    Some recent areas of work follow below.

    Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2010

    Scottish Land & Estates has been heavily involved in the development of new legislation which will amend aspects of the historic environment framework. The legislation:
    • Amends the definition of monument.
    • Introduces provisions for certificates of immunity.
    • Strengthen enforcement powers against those who damage or destroy the historic environment.

    Scottish Land & Estates will be working with Historic Scotland to carry out an education programme for owners and managers of the historic environment to raise awareness of the changes which will be implemented through this legislation.

    Scottish Land & Estates has recently submitted a response to the consultation on draft regulations on four draft Statutory Instruments which have been prepared under certain delegated powers in the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2011. These are as follows:

    • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas (Compensation) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
    • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas (Applications for Scheduled Monument Consent) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
    • The Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings) (Amount of Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Regulations 2011
    • The Town and Country Planning (Listed Buildings) (Prescribed Form of Notices) Scotland Regulations 2011

    An Information Sheet on the Act is available for members. 

    Rural Heritage Tourism

    Scottish Land & Estates heads up an industry-led group which is focused on delivering recommendations identified in the Valuing Rural Heritage research report which was commissioned by Scottish Enterprise in 2010. The group’s work includes:

    • Supporting the development of regional pilot projects which aim to bring the rural heritage in an area together to promote regional days out.
    • Raising awareness of existing funding mechanisms.
    • Supporting projects which try to expand the variety of types of people visiting rural heritage.
    • Developing flexible ticketing options and looking at initiatives to extend traditional seasons.

     Strategic Agreement

    A strategic partnership agreement has been announced between the Historic Houses Association for Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates, which will see collaboration and best use of resources and will bringthe combined expertise and members’ experience to impress upon the Scottish Government and Parliament, key agencies and the public, the crucially positive role played by heritage and land-based businesses in the life of Scotland’s rural areas, and in the success of the country as a whole.

    The Head of Policy provides generic advice on historic environment policy, historic and listed buildings, scheduled monuments and archaeology, gardens and designed landscapes, and battlefields.

    The Policy Officer (Access) leads on rural heritage tourism.

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