CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating a “fantastic” growth in the number of community land buy-outs happening in Scotland’s urban areas.

Community Land Scotland, a membership organisation that also helps others realise community ownership, said that the movement had been “dominated by large rural Highland and Hebridean projects: iconic names such as Assynt and Knoydart, Gigha and Galson”.

But the charity said that urban areas, Greater Glasgow in particular, were seeing soaring interest in community land buy-outs.

Community Land Scotland reported that “nearly 100 community groups” are now aiming to take control of local buildings or land in the Glasgow region, adding to the 52 community landowners already established in the area.

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Dr Carey Doyle, the charity’s urban hub manager, said they had been expecting to deal with 10 community land buy-outs in Glasgow per year. Instead, she said “communities have asked us about 96 proposed buy-out projects so far”.

Doyle added: “The growth in demand from the Glasgow city region is fantastic, taking inspiration from the achievements of the rural community buy-outs which have come before.”

Linsay Chalmers, a development manager with Community Land Scotland, said: “Over the last few years, it has been great to see a significant increase in communities in the Central Belt, particularly in and around Glasgow, working on community buy-outs.

“Many areas in rural Scotland have seen a great boost to the economy, and empowerment from community ownership, and we’re delighted to see this happening in urban Scotland too.”

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Edinburgh is also seeing growth in interest, Community Land Scotland said, albeit at a slower rate. The charity said that “at least 12 community buyouts in the city have received funding” in the past six years, three of which were in the last year.

“Many more proposed buy-outs in Edinburgh are at earlier planning stages,” the charity said.

But Chalmers said the initial hesitation at taking land into community ownership was still being seen in other urban communities.

She said: “What we’ve seen with Glasgow and Edinburgh is that when local communities understand the opportunity that now exists to strengthen and empower their locality, the help and advice that is available, the chance to hugely improve facilities, they jump at the chance.

“Initially people are understandably cautious. We’re optimistic that when Aberdeen and Dundee and the other places who have been wary so far, maybe see the examples of success in other urban areas, they will be tempted to follow and join in the chance to get involved and take ownership of land, buildings, services and facilities that are important to them.”

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The law in Scotland was changed in 2016 to make it easier for communities in urban areas to buy land and buildings. The Scottish Land Fund – which can help with financing the initial purchase – was extended to urban areas in the same year.

Community Land Scotland said it is organising this year’s Community Land Week in partnership with the Scottish Government and as an anniversary celebration.

The charity said: “This is a special celebration, marking 100 years since the then Lord Leverhulme gifted the town of Stornoway to its residents – the first significant transfer of community control and the first ‘urban buy-out’ in Scotland.”

It added that today across Scotland, a total of 212,342 hectares of land is community owned across some 700 projects.

Community Land Week is running for a fortnight in 2023, from October 13 to 29.