Urban land

Communities in towns and cities across Scotland have long been interested in owning buildings and land. When the rights and funding for land buy outs were applied across Scotland in 2016, Community Land Scotland saw an increase in communities seeking ownership of land and land assets to catalyse regeneration across urban areas in Scotland. Since 2018 we have been working to support urban groups, and to address the challenges that are specific to urban areas, while building momentum in urban community landownership. An overview of our urban community ownership work is below.

If your community is exploring ideas for purchasing land and/or land assets or has already acquired some our Urban Development officer Kristina would be delighted to hear from you. You can contact her via email at kristina.nitsolova@communitylandscotland.org.uk, or by phone on 07508 421886.

Accelerating urban community ownership in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley

In 2021 we launched an action research project on community ownership in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley. We are working in more depth on urban issues here, promoting community ownership and land reform, and doing research on changes to improve urban community-led and owned development.

We use our learning from the Glasgow project to inform our national urban work, supporting groups and advocating for a fairer land ownership system.

This project came from discussions with our members and our research on the challenges and opportunities of urban community ownership. Community ownership has the potential to bring transformative change to Scotland’s urban communities, but there are many challenges. Through this project we are working to address challenges, making urban community ownership easier, and bringing the benefits of community ownership to more people. Through our research we are sharing our learning on this process.

We would love to roll out this approach to other areas of Scotland– watch this space!

Celebrating urban community ownership

In 2021 we celebrated five years of urban community ownership rights and funding with the report From Barmulloch to Bonnymuir Green – This is not just a rural story. Below is a short excerpt from the report.

From Dumfries to Aberdeen, people have been using the new powers and funding made available to them by the Scottish Government since 2016 to buy and run shops, redundant churches, community centres, High Street buildings, woodlands, parks, pubs and bowling greens. All are places and facilities loved by their communities and all have people prepared to commit considerable amounts of volunteer time and energy to save them. People and what they can achieve when they work together are at the heart of this fantastic success story for Scotland.

Although urban communities owning assets was not a new phenomenon – the great stories of Glasgow’s first housing associations have much to teach us about a community’s refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer, often in the face of intransigent authorities – what has happened since 2016 places Scotland at the front and centre of international urban land reform and community led regeneration. In the five years since the introduction of the game-changing Community Empowerment Act and the extension of the Scottish Land Fund to all of Scotland’s communities, the energy, ambition and achievements of Scotland’s urban communities has been inspiring.

Land Reform is a story about all of Scotland. Community ownership is now established across Scotland – and in five years has grown exponentially across urban Scotland in particular. 20% of all community held assets are now in towns and cities. Scotland is leading the way internationally in community led urban regeneration delivered by communities owning and controlling important local assets.

Urban Community Landownership in Scotland in 2018: research

Urban Community Landownership in Scotland in 2018 – Full Report

Urban Community Landownership in Scotland in 2018 – Summary Report

Communities that have bought or are in the process of buying land (2017-18) – list

Full literature review


Case studies (PDF)

Bonnymuir Green Community Trust

Linwood Community Development Trust

Duddingston Village Conservation Society

Press stories on urban community land

North Edinburgh Arts to become community-owned hub (North Edinburgh Arts)

Development plans for recreation site after largest urban land buyout in Scotland secured for £500,000

(Viewpark Conservation Group)

Bitter battle to bring woodland back to life as a community asset (Helensburgh Community Woodlands Group)

Gathering to hear how new type of buyout is bringing benefits (Urban Community Land Gathering, October 2019)

Work completes on new Roystonhill Community Hub (Spireview Housing Association)

Copperworks celebrates ‘Park on the Hill’ regeneration milestone (Copperworks Housing Association)

Former Dumfries baker’s building seeks regeneration role (Dumfries High Street)

Boost for bid to create community co-working space on Dunbar High Street (Sustaining Dunbar)

Edinburgh’s Action Porty is first urban group to use right-to-buy powers

Mother’s lead fight to transform derelict school into £2.4million village (Linwood Community Trust)

Land reform to change Scottish cities