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by Tom Freeman
18 June 2015
Communities win right to buy and protect local assets

Communities win right to buy and protect local assets

A bill giving communities more of a say in local planning decisions has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The Community Empowerment Act will make it easier for community groups to buy land and buildings, stop allotments being closed, and protect assets such as children’s play parks. It was passed at Stage 3 in the Scottish parliament last night, with 101 MSPs backing the legislation and 15 abstaining. None opposed the plans.

An amendment by Green MSP Alison Johnstone was also passed which will make it easier for fans to buy their football clubs.


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The law will also mean local authorities and public bodies will have a statutory duty to weigh up the benefits of transferring their land and buildings to communities, such a derelict buildings or land.

Local Government Minister Marco Biagi said the new law was “a momentous step” in decentralising powers to communities.

“By giving people more powers to take over land, buildings and services, communities that may have been excluded in the past, can identify the best ways to improve their area and take forward regeneration on their own terms,” he said.

The move was welcomed by community planning groups. Petra Biberbach, Chief Executive of Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS), said Scotland was now able to “lead the way” in shaping communities.

“Recently we have seen an unprecedented level of national interest and engagement in how much say people have on where they live and how it evolves. This legislation will empower communities further and put them right at the heart of the discussion. As an organisation whose overarching aim is to help build active citizenship and give people the opportunity to create the places they want, this is a very important step in that journey,” she said.

It is now expected that a consultation on the implementation of fan ownership of football clubs will be carried out by the Scottish Government over the summer.

Johnstone urged football fans to get involved. "I'm very glad Scottish Ministers have accepted this principle, and we will continue to press them until the right to buy is fully in place and fans are at last where they belong, at the heart of the Scottish game," she said.

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