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Concerns over community ‘right-to-buy’ proposals 26/01/2015 The 'devil's in the detail', according to a Parliamentary Committee report on the community right to buy proposals.

Concerns over community ‘right-to-buy’ proposals

The Scottish Government’s ambition to give communities across Scotland greater access to purchase land for the benefit of local people is to be welcomed, but the ‘devil’s in the detail’, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.

The Committee’s comments came as it publishes a report on aspects of the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill. One of the key aims of the proposed Bill is to simplify the right-to-buy process for urban and rural communities living in Scotland.  

The report highlights a range of issues, including: 

  • Many stakeholders support the introduction of the new power extending the community right-to-buy where there is no willing seller, but the majority viewed it as a power of last resort, when other methods and negotiations had failed. They considered that the existence of the power would, however, have an important role in incentivising negotiation. 
  • Agricultural land should be exempt from right to buy unless it fails to meet “good agricultural and environmental condition.”
  • Land that is intended for recognised conservation or environmental purposes should also be exempt from right to buy.
  • The difficulties faced by communities seeking to exercise their right to buy and the importance that appropriate support and funding is available to all communities across Scotland.
  • The Committee agrees with those stakeholders who consider that the mapping requirements for community right-to-buy are excessive and considers that there is a need to streamline the mapping process and simplify the information requirements.
  • The provisions of the Bill could have gone further, but the Committee views the Bill as part of a wider process of land reform and the considers that, once amended as recommended by the Committee, should resolve many of the problems of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

“The Committee agrees that the Government’s proposed changes have the potential to bring equality of opportunity for Scotland’s urban and rural communities, while balancing this with the need to protect the rights of land owners,” said Rob Gibson MSP, Convener of the Committee. “However it is vital that the Government addresses the detailed issues which were highlighted in evidence so that Scotland’s communities can be properly supported in their ambitions to bring social, economic and environmental benefits to their areas and to future generations.”

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