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Community Transfer Assets to be made easier by Highland Council

By Gavin Musgrove

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Highland councillors yesterday agreed a number of recommendations that aim to improve the process, and experience for groups requesting Community Asset Transfers.

The recommendations also aim to support groups attain an increase in community ownership.

Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of the council's communities and place committee, said: “The decisions we have made will hopefully enable more community groups to be more successful with their Community Asset Transfer applications.

"I am very pleased since our last committee that two more Community Asset Transfers have been successful.”

Vice chairman Hugh Morrison said: “I am delighted that the transfer of Thurso Greenhouse Complex to Thurso Development Trust has been approved on a 15-year lease.

"I also welcome the approval at the Badenoch and Strathspey area committee for the transfer of Burnfield toilets and immediate surrounding land to Grantown Initiative.”

There is also an on-going CAT by Kingussie Shinty Club to acquire the Market Stance to provide a community sports venue.

Members agreed that the council will improve its Community Asset Transfer (CAT) process by amongst other measures:

* broadening its approach for considering CAT requests;

* including consideration of requests outwith the scope of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015; and

* including a more streamlined and proportionate application process.

The council may also reserve a right of pre-emption in a sold asset which would require a group to give the local authority first refusal should it wish to sell the asset in the future.

Members also welcomed the development of Community Loan Funds to support community bodies to take forward a range of projects and specifically support successful asset transfer projects.

The council has appointed community support co-ordinators who will support groups especially in their expression of interest phase to enable communities to take forward their projects and proposals.

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