28 September, 2015

Community Asset Transfer: A toolkit for housing providers

Housing providers typically own a range of community assets including land and buildings – in this case community asset refers to community buildings such as community centres or meeting spaces.

The management of these community assets is a significant part of housing providers’ community investment activity, yet little is known about the strategic approach they take when managing a community asset portfolio, or the potential that community assets have in the sector.

Statutory organisations such as local authorities and councils are increasingly developing proactive community asset transfer initiatives. Community asset transfer (CAT) is widely used to refer to the process whereby the ownership and/or management of land, building or facilities is transferred from a statutory organisation to a community organisation. It is a voluntary process and is intended to benefit the local community. As part of this process, an agreement is made regarding the management of the asset, most commonly by way of a long lease. Alternative arrangements are also available, such as transfer (or sale) of freehold or a licence, which is particularly useful for newly formed community organisations.

Few resources exist for housing providers interested in developing a community asset transfer approach to identify and share innovative practice. Those resources that do exist are primarily focused on local authorities and rarely consider the experience of the asset transfer process from the perspective of the community organisations or housing providers.

Over the last five years Affinity Sutton has cultivated a community asset transfer approach to maximise the potential of its community asset portfolio and support residents in line with Affinity Sutton’s social purpose to help people put down roots. Having undertaken a significant programme of community asset transfer, Affinity Sutton has proven experience in community asset management. This toolkit is designed to disseminate this learning and good practice and encourage dialogue in the social housing sector.

Affinity Sutton asked HACT to conduct this research and produce this toolkit in conjunction with three community organisations that were pioneers of Affinity Sutton’s community asset transfer approach. This toolkit is designed to explore the experience of the process from the perspective of community organisations and to enable housing providers to understand the operational realities and practical challenges of community asset transfer.

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Community Asset Transfer: A toolkit for housing providers

PUBLISHED: September 2015

AUTHORS: Mary-Kathryn Adams and Frances Harkin

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