With land reform high on the political agenda 2017 we anticipate that even more communities, particularly in urban areas, will look to the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) to help them acquire assets. With this in mind we wanted to start the New Year by updating you on what opportunities the SLF provides for both rural and urban communities, as well as highlighting some of its achievements since launching back in March 2016.
In just ten months, the SLF has awarded over £1.7 million to 58 community initiatives. While most are development projects looking for small amounts of money to investigate their community ownership ideas, 13 of these groups have been awarded funding to acquire assets.
As well as awards already made, we know that there are many groups who are considering funding bids to the SLF. We currently have interest from over 200 groups who are working up ideas for applications, and there are at least 47 groups with applications totaling £8 million that we expect to apply for funding before the end of March 2017. Some of the projects in development include land for community led housing projects, community hubs, lifeline shop and filling stations as well as crofting estates and large forests.
So how can the SLF support your community ambitions for land or asset ownership? Well, firstly you should contact the Big Lottery Fund to discuss your idea and see if it is a potential fit. The SLF has a two stage application process which begins with a short form which allows us to check your eligibility and, if requested, to award a development grant to help you develop your plans. If you are invited to proceed with your application you will work with your SLF Adviser to fully develop your project idea. Stage two applications can take around six months to develop as this is when we ask you to develop all aspects of your proposed acquisition and complete your application for funding.
If your application is successful, you will likely still need time to complete the acquisition of the asset. This is part and parcel of the long and winding path to community ownership that for most groups can take months, for some even years. That said, it’s a journey well worth the effort and one which the SLF is looking forward to supporting more communities through this coming year and beyond.
The SLF is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highland and Islands Enterprise. To apply, contact the Big Lottery Fund to discuss your idea