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New guidance on public open space transfer

17 November 2010

CABE and the Asset Transfer Unit have published new guidance for local authorities and community groups on the transfer of parks and green spaces.

Residents gardening at Gambier House, Islington

Residents gardening at Gambier House, Islington. Photo by Jane Sebire.

Community-led spaces: a guide for local authorities and community groups provides practical advice on the issues to consider.

It contains advice on putting together a business case for transfer, governance, finance and communications, with checklists for both local authorities and community groups throughout.

Eight pioneering case studies taken from across England show a variety of approaches. They include a charitable trust set up to manage land with a 99-year lease, and community groups that initiate ‘meanwhile’ uses of land awaiting development.

The guidance explores the opportunities and constraints provided by different types of space, from turning neglected land on housing estates into community gardens, to exploiting the opportunities for social enterprise. Also highlighted is the need to take account of the bigger picture when transferring public open space, such as protecting the broader environmental benefits of green space.

Sarah Gaventa, director of Public Space at CABE, said the guidance provides timely advice to help public sector bodies and community groups considering transferring ownership and management of green spaces. ‘It highlights the issues and opportunities to ensure open spaces are well managed and benefit everyone.’

The guidance describes resources available from the Asset Transfer Unit, CABE and partner organisations.

Some examples of asset transfer

The council and community have come together to inject new life into local spaces in Southwark, London. The Bankside Open Spaces Trust secured funding not available to the council to pay to care and develop ten green spaces.

In Devon, a charitable trust has been set up to safeguard almost 500 acres of land owned by Torbay Council. Having a senior council on the board of trustees has helped Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust develop a good relationship with the council.

Park View 4U in Lancashire has raised money to create a park. The site is still owned by the council, but the resident-led community group will maintain the equipment and infrastructure and has recently attracted funding for a new building.