We are seeking to dispose of a number of public buildings for the simple reason that we can no longer afford to maintain a large property estate. A combination of government cuts and unavoidable rising costs mean that we must save £100m from our revenue budget over the next three years. Reducing the number of properties we use and maintain is one element of a comprehensive savings programme which we must implement in the years ahead. In many cases the closure of a building is also associated with other budget savings such as the withdrawal of a service.

We are very concerned about the loss of services and public amenities in local communities and are keen to identify other organisations to continue to supply services from those buildings, or to use surplus buildings to supply other services not already available in the community.

We are aware some of the management committees of community centres are looking for anchor tenants and / or long term hirers. If your organisation is interested in discussing potential options, please could you contact Adam Taeger, email adam.taeger@newcastle.gov.uk, tel: 0191 277 7523.

Adam will need some brief details about:

  • what your organisation does,
  • what activities / services you would like to deliver
  • which part of the city you are interested in, and
  • what kind of space and how much space your organisation would require.

On this page

What is community asset transfer?

Newcastle has strong, vibrant communities with active citizens who are ready and able to get involved and make a difference to their local area. We wish to encourage anyone with an interest in taking forward community ownership of relevant buildings, land and or services through Community Asset Transfer. This is where we transfer an asset at less than its full market value to promote local social, economic and or environmental objectives. Community asset transfer may take place through:

  • a management agreement
  • a licence to occupy
  • a short lease or tenancy
  • a long lease
  • freehold transfer

Community asset transfer can help to unlock the potential of communities by:

  • Empowering local communities by putting local organisations in control.
  • Stimulating the involvement of local people in shaping and regenerating their communities and can be a catalyst for local volunteering and increasing community cohesion.
  • Building confidence and capacity amongst the individuals involved and can support the creation of community leaders and inspire others to improve their community.
  • Creating stronger, more sustainable voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations which can create a wide range of benefits for the communities they serve. An asset can provide VCS organisations with financial security, recognition and management capacity.
  • Offering opportunities to extend the use of the asset, increasing its value to the community.

We have a flexible approach to agreeing terms to support community asset transfer and will not seek a rent or capital receipt where this is appropriate, although wherever possible we will seek to pass on all costs associated with the asset.

Values

We will be honest and transparent about assets that may be suitable for community asset transfer. But we must be realistic about what community organisations can take on, the timescales and the suitability of an asset for transfer.

Our approach to transferring responsibility for assets will be:

  • Fair: We will be fair and inclusive when inviting expressions of interest from all interested organisations. However,  where an organisation is already managing or operating from an asset we will discuss asset transfer opportunities with them first.
  • Co-operative: We will work with other stakeholders in the city, for example VCS organisations, to provide support and advice to those organisations interested in asset transfer.
  • Liberating: We want services and assets to remain where possible and we will endeavour to secure a successful asset transfer for most of our assets. We will provide support directly and signpost to additional support to enable communities to take on responsibility for their assets and services.
  • Accountable: All decisions relating to transfers will be taken based on sound business plans. We will not ask for business plans to be developed if the information provided through expressions of interest does not provide a sound basis for a sustainable future for the asset.
  • Forward thinking: We will always consider the long term sustainability of an asset and be realistic about the support and investment required to help community groups maintain a building in the long term. We will aim to find solutions which are of long term benefit to communities. We will be honest about our intentions for each asset; in some cases it will be more appropriate for us to sell buildings and services on a commercial basis.
  • Confident: We want to encourage local people to take pride in their local communities and we will respect the right for people to stand up and fight for their local amenities working with them to find the best possible solutions.
  • Leadership: We see leadership as bringing together people with different skills and experience to make a difference. We will seek to bring together a range of voluntary and community groups to provide the support and experience necessary to develop sustainable proposals for the transfer of assets.

Eligibility/criteria

We are interested in discussing community asset transfer with community groups and VCS organisations on a wide range of assets. A key consideration however will be the sustainability of the organisation and its capacity to manage and develop the asset. These issues will be explored through expressions of interest and business cases.

Interested organisations must:

  • Demonstrate a clear community/social demand for the proposal.
  • Be an appropriately constituted VCS organisation (e.g. a registered charity, community interest company or charitable incorporated organisation, a not for profit company) or be prepared to work towards this.
  • Have a strong financial background and/or a demonstrable financial plan for the asset.
  • Set out a clear, financially viable vision for the asset that will contribute to its sustainability.
  • Demonstrate its contribution towards our priorities and outcomes.
  • Continue to provide access to community and voluntary groups currently using the premises.
  • Demonstrate strong governance by operating through transparent, accountable and co-operative principles.
  • Demonstrate it has the skills and capacity within, or available to, it's managing body to effectively deliver services and manage the asset.

Depending on the type of asset organisations are interested in there may be additional criteria, for example, running a library service.

We will not invite expressions of interest for assets:

  • That we still require.
  • Where we have identified as a potential significant capital receipt and where we are looking at disposal, in this case VCS organisations may still choose to submit a bid when the asset is marketed.
  • Where the building is occupied by an existing group who are either working toward an asset transfer or are holding to thier existing lease arrangements.

The final decision on community asset transfer will be made by Cabinet in all cases. An up to date list of assets can be found below.

Process

We have published a list of those assets that we are looking to asset transfer plus other options for all assets.

The following process must be completed as a minimum for successful community asset transfer. There may occasionally be additional requirements depending on the type of asset and details of these will be provided at the appropriate time.

1. Contact lead officer

Notify us of your interest direct to the lead officer (details included in the list of assets).

2. Full disclosure

We will provide you with information relating to the running of the asset. This will help you decide whether asset transfer is right for you.

3. Expression of interest

If you are interested in asset transfer, you should complete an Expression of Interest (EOI). The lead officer will provide you with this and it will be found in the list of assets, including specific criteria that will be evaluated.

4. Evaluation

We will evaluate the EOI against the criteria and inform you of the outcome.

5. Business plan

If your EOI is successful the lead officer will ask you to develop a detailed business plan and will provide you with details of any criteria that will be used to evaluate it.

6. Evaluation

We will evaluate business plans against the criteria. The outcome of the evaluation will be agreed by Cabinet.

7. Confirmation

We will inform you in writing of the evaluation, and where appropriate formally sign the legal agreement to transfer the asset.

Support

We are committed to supporting strong organisations to take on assets that are of value to them and to the communities that they serve. We recognise that this is a significant change and can be challenging for organisations. This section sets out the types of support that is available to organisations considering community asset transfer.

Is asset transfer right for our organisation?

To consider the opportunities and challenges of community asset transfer organisations need information. We will provide 'full disclosure' of all information, that we hold, relevant to each asset. We will also provide you with a named contact officer depending on the asset you are interested in. The officer will be available to provide further information, answer any questions and broker access to other technical officers as appropriate.

We strongly believe that you should also access independent advice to consider whether asset transfer is right for your organisation.

Following the initial support, if you wish to pursue asset transfer we recommend that you bid to Locality/ the Social Investment Business (http://mycommunityrights.org.uk) for their pre-feasibility grants. If successful, these grants, of up to £10k, are available to support organisations consider the implications of asset transfer.

Working towards asset transfer

If you decide that community asset transfer is right for your organisation you will then need to develop a formal Expression of Interest and a credible Business Plan. The Business Plan and financial forecasts should clearly outline how your organisation will ensure the long term sustainability of the asset.

At this point you may also choose to consider the legal structure of your organisation and the operational management of the asset. For community centres a council officer will continue to support you and you may also choose to access external support from organisations in the city. As above where you choose to access external support there will be a cost, we recommend that you bid to Locality/ the Social Investment Business (http://mycommunityrights.org.uk) for their feasibility grants. If successful, these grants, of up to £100k, are available to support organisations prepare for asset transfer.

Ensuring that you have a sustainable asset

We recognise that each asset is different and that some may require capital improvement prior to transfer. If your organisation is committed to community asset transfer and has a credible and sustainable plan you may choose to apply to our Asset Capital Fund.

This fund is available for organisations to invest in assets to improve their sustainability. This can include updating existing facilities, improving ICT or changing the space to deliver new services and generate new trading opportunities. The fund is available for council owned assets, and our criteria can be found here.

There are also a range of external funding opportunities available to organisations that may help you with community asset transfer. You may consider applying to; BIG, Sport England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Each of these funders has their individual criteria and we recommend that you speak with them directly.

Based on consultation with businesses including social enterprises, we also understand that high quality broadband is a key part of supporting organisations to be competitive. Whether this is to enable your organisation to be better connected, to encourage businesses to locate within the asset or to deliver state of the art services from within the asset. We recognise that there is scope to improve connectivity in our assets therefore we have also made capital investment available to do this, where it is a key part of making the asset sustainable.

Whilst the decision to participate in asset transfer is a decision for each individual organisation the council strongly believes that organisations should have access to independent advice. This is why, following feedback from organisations in the city, we procured the 'Open Doors' Consortium to provide initial advice and guidance to interested groups. This contract has now ended but the resources and tools developed by the Consortium provide useful checklists and ideas about the management of community buildings.
 

Summary support

Type of support Community buildings Libraries Leisure Buildings Other buildings
Dedicated key contact x x x x
Asset transfer information, advice and guidance x x x x
"Full disclosure" of all information x x x x
Locality/Social Investment Business Grants x x x x
NCC Asset Capital Fund x x x  
Broadband x x x x
NCC officer team x      

Useful links

This section contains useful links for groups considering asset transfer.

Page last updated: 
17 October 2017
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