We have concerns that, as it stands, the Land Reform Bill will fail to deliver any of its proposed outcomes and will not match the ambitious language of party election manifestos. We set out the four core issues which need to be effectively addressed so that this Land Reform Bill delivers for all the communities of Scotland. Full details are here

All communities across Scotland must be able to access the proposed benefits of the Bill – including a right for Public Interest Tests on land and assets of significance to communities and the rights to Notifications of Sale and Statutory Land Rights and Responsibilities Statements

Urban land reform and landholdings of significance

We believe that any vision for Scotland that emphasises equality, opportunity and community must apply no matter where you live in Scotland, be that urban, rural or island. We contend that community landownership can (and already does) help deliver on this vision across the whole of Scotland. As such we are very concerned that the proposed Public Interest Test, statutory Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and Notifications for Sale will only apply to ‘large-scale landholdings’ and will have no relevance for urban areas, many of which face considerable issues due to poor landownership and the impact of vacant and derelict land.

We think it is essential that urban areas are not excluded from this Land Reform Bill, and that the new proposals in the legislation apply to all areas of Scotland and thus maintain the equality of treatment between urban and rural land reform established in the 2015 Community Empowerment Act.

We propose a solution which identifies landholdings/assets where a Public Interest Test, Prior Notification of Sale and the statutory Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement would all apply. Our proposal is criteria-based but includes a provision that would allow the consideration of cases that are significant and result in excessive power acting against the public interest. This criterion would sit alongside a fixed threshold based on scale (500ha) and a percentage of an inhabited island. This would be land or an asset that a designated public body (potentially the Scottish Land Commission) can agree is of significance to any applying community. The term ‘significant’ provides an appropriate hurdle to be cleared and is of course a term in common use in legislation and/or formal guidance across a range of important public interest matters. We envisage specific guidance would be developed and issued in support of this provision by the appropriate designated public body which we see being the Scottish Land Commission.

This provision would ensure that urban and peri-urban areas are included in the Land Reform Bill. Furthermore, this would mean that the concentration of landownership power, where this impacts on economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, or fair and equal access to land, not just scale, is reflected within the important developments the Bill proposes.