Scottish Land & Estates has welcomed government plans to streamline the community right-to-buy process where there is a willing seller and purchaser.
The proposal was announced as part of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill published by the Scottish Government today.
Scottish Land & Estates said that the move would help to speed up the process for willing sellers working with communities to realise their aspirations. The organisation also said it hoped the bill would deliver an effective community planning framework, critical in defining community needs and aspirations.
However, Scottish Land & Estates made clear that there are areas of the Bill that need to be scrutinised in greater detail, particularly regarding the forced sale of 'abandoned’ or ‘neglected’ land.
Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “We welcome the government’s plans to streamline the process of community buyouts of land from a willing seller. Where there are instances of landowners wishing to sell land to the community, every effort should be made to ensure that the legal process can be negotiated as efficiently as possible to allow the community to realise its aspirations as quickly as possible. Delays due to the complexities of the current legislation have caused great frustration to both landowners and communities.
“There needs to be a greater focus on effective community planning alongside this and we are happy that the government continues to seek improvements in this area. A framework of partnership and cooperation remains key in delivering the services needed to support our rural communities and any proposal that helps to maintain and promote the vibrancy of these areas has to be welcomed.
“There are areas of the bill we will need to scrutinise in further detail, including provisions on the forced sale of ‘abandoned’ or ‘neglected’ land. Like many local government respondents to the pre-Bill consultation, we feel that this would be better resolved by powers vested in local authorities. We believe that more analysis should have been undertaken about how existing powers can and are being used prior to creating another layer of legislation.”
Other measures contained within the Bill include fresh proposals to protect and promote community allotments, which were also welcomed by Scottish Land & Estates.
Mr McAdam added: “The government has recognised the importance of allotments and growing spaces and we support the simplification of legislation around this vital community resource.
“As a member of the Grow Your Own Working Group, we have put forward our views on how to encourage more people to support community growing spaces. We are pleased that the recommendations of this group have been taken on board and we support the government’s aim of ensuring that there is sufficient space for everyone who wishes to access these facilities. Our members are committed to making land available for allotments, and similar community projects through ongoing collaboration.”