Community Right to Buy review

Kinlochleven AIRES
Alan Robertson

A review of Community Rights to Buy will begin this summer to look at how effective the current powers are.

Community Right to Buy has now been in use for 20 years. During that time, there have been several additions and amendments to the original rights in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, and various reports and recommendations on how to improve and amend them further.

Speaking during a visit to the Heart of Newhaven, a community facility which was bought by the community in 2021 through the Asset Transfer process, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“Ownership or control of land and buildings – both urban and rural – is a powerful tool for communities to drive change and achieve their goals. It can help to develop the local economy, provide activities and services, and boost community identity.

“We want to increase community ownership as an important way of delivering our vision for Scotland and our three central missions of equality, opportunity and community.

“This review will begin in Summer 2024, following introduction of the Land Reform Bill and report at the end of 2025 and will cover all the current rights to buy and will look at legislative and procedural aspects of the rights to see if new legislation is needed.”

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 introduced the first two community rights to buy.  The Community Right to Buy (Part 2) gave rural communities the right to register an interest in assets.  Should the owner choose to sell, the community could then be granted the right to buy that asset without it being offered to anyone else.  The Crofting Community Right to Buy (Part 3) gave communities in crofting areas a right to compulsory purchase of assets, whether or not the owner wishes to sell.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 then amended the Community Right to Buy to widen the rights to urban communities.  It also introduced the Community Right to Buy Abandoned, Neglected or Detrimental Land (Part 3A).  This is a compulsory purchase right for land that is abandoned, neglected or detrimental to the environmental wellbeing of communities.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced a further compulsory right, the Right to Buy Land to Further Sustainable Development (Part 5).  This compulsory right does not need land to be in a certain condition and allows communities to nominate a third party purchase on their behalf.