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Community Land Scotland

Legislating for a public interest test in land sales, transfers, and management

We have published ‘Legislating for a public interest test in land sales, transfers, and management’ by Lloyd Austin, the latest in our discussion paper series on “Land and the Common Good.”

This paper builds on existing Community Land Scotland ideas for a public interest test,  exploring the legislative options that might be available to implement this commitment, as well as the policy development that will be necessary to support and implement such a change in the law.  It is hoped that this paper will inform discussion on what a public interest test over land could achieve, in response to the Scottish Government’s consultation paper “Land Reform in a Net Zero Nation”. 

The paper begins by exploring the policy context, directly concerning the ‘public interest test’ as well as related commitments to sustainable development and the environment. It reflects on the use of “public interest” as a term and as a test in legislation and policy – both in general, and in relation to land, planning, etc.

The paper considers what a ‘public interest test’ for land should be – by seeking to answer a number of questions:

  • What?  what does a ‘public interest test’ test?
  • When?  when – or on what occasions or under what circumstances – should a ‘public interest test’ be applied?
  •  Who and how?  who should be responsible for undertaking the test and determining the outcome?
  •  Outcomes?  what are the range of possible outcomes for such a test?
  •  Consequences or effect?  what is the statutory effect of each possible outcome?

We have also separately published a briefing which contains our key proposals in response to the Land Reform Bill consultation.