5. Remember who owns this stuff
(Also known as ‘Socially productive use of land and property’)
Between them, local authorities, health boards, colleges and the police own an awful lot of local land and property but for one reason or another not all of it is being put to its best use. How many pieces of derelict land can you think of locally? Or vacant or underused buildings? If you added up the potential value of all of these parcels of land and property what value would it hold and how could you put it to best use?
If you’ve got a significant number of vacant properties in your area in private hands could you encourage owners to rent them out at sub-market rates to local co-ops or social enterprises? Many public bodies have bits of land that they currently have no real plans for – you could ask the local community what they would do with it if they had the chance. Big or small there are opportunities for communities to take on the ownership and management of land – land for local food production or energy production, workshops for small businesses, or premises for the voluntary sector.
It sounds expensive but for the current owner it might be cheaper than keeping it empty. And there are a number of funding sources which support local land and property buy outs.
Investment decisions can be made around long-term value for communities not short-term receipts. Longer-term socio-economic benefits for an area and reduced costs for other services can be captured in decision making.
Questions to ask yourself
What, beyond minimum standards, can I ask for in our contract with contractors?
Do I know how many local properties are vacant or land which isn’t being used? Do we own any if it?
Could we develop these as Community Assets?
Are our investment decisions based on achieving long-term value for communities or generating short-term receipts?
Who is doing this already?