Book News: September 5th, 2006

By Stephen Thake, Sanjiv Lingayah and Melanie NockThe report from the Civil Renewal Unit in the Department for Communities and Local Government looks at the costs and benefits of community management and ownership of buildings. It highlights positive outcomes for community-based organisations, when they take control over the buildings they occupy. There are an estimated 18,000 community buildings, such as community centres and village halls, across England and Wales. Taking over the longterm responsibility for these buildings is a major turning point for the organisation that is transferring the building as well as the organisation receiving it.

The benefits to community-based organisations arising from taking control of the buildings they occupy are many. The building provides a secure base, a better opportunity to plan ahead, expand and diversify and experiment with new approaches to meeting the needs of their communities. Taking over a long leasehold interest in a building gives additional status and responsibilities. It allows funds to be raised. It strengthens the balance sheet, provides the collateral for working capital loans and mortgages and other finance to support further growth.

However, supporting community-based organisations to take greater control over the buildings they occupy is neither a cost free or risk free initiative. The ownership of good quality accommodation is not a guarantee for sustainability. It will be necessary to adapt and improve buildings if they are to meet changing needs and standards. It will also remain difficult to cover an organisation’s core operating costs. Funding for these quasi-commercial ventures is more difficult to assemble and often entails raising loan finance. This can expose the organisation to greater uncertainty.

The report is available at:

http://civilrenewal.communities.gov.uk/civil/reports-publications/publications/264562/Community_Assets_Report.pdf?view=Binary