Local groups and organisations can now apply for long term leases on Westmorland and Furness Council buildings for sustainable projects and initiatives.
The council’s recently approved ‘Community Asset Transfer (CAT) Policy’ sets out the principles and recommended approach for the leasehold transfer of council property assets to community groups by way of a long-term lease, typically 25 – 99 years.
CAT applications are now being accepted for buildings currently owned by the authority, which have been identified as surplus to requirements. CATs can give local people and communities the opportunity to take greater control of assets in their local area.
The previous county and district councils followed a similar approach with local elected members being at the heart of this activity. The new scheme and guidance builds on the knowledge, skills and benefits gained through previous successful CATs.
CAT applications will be considered from established and financially stable community groups, such as town and parish councils and not-for-profit charities. A detailed business case will need to be submitted, which meets the requirements outlined in the CAT policy, demonstrates community benefits such as improved wellbeing and support, shows plans for future development and is financially viable.
Cllr Virginia Taylor, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities and Localities said:
“It’s best, if possible, for local people to decide what they want to do locally so community asset transfer means that surplus buildings owned by the council can be transferred to appropriately constituted groups in local communities to manage the future of that asset for the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of an area and its communities. Local knowledge, decision-making and enthusiasm can maximise the benefits of community services and activities, as well as optimising how community assets are run.”
Cllr Peter Thornton, Cabinet Member for Highways and Assets said:
“The council will ensure that any transfer of land and property assets to the voluntary and community sector is consistent and transparent. This policy means that applicants can be confident that a fair and standardised process will be adopted for each individual application.
The policy reflects the council’s key priorities in enabling confident, empowered and resilient communities. It also supports the council’s drive to become zero carbon as all requests for CAT must include detail of how the asset will be managed sustainably.”