Liverpool community ‘revolution’ can save neglected city buildings under new ownership scheme

Community asset transfer project means voluntary groups can take ownership of land and property across the city.

Voluntary groups across Liverpool are being given the opportunity to prevent land and buildings across the city “being left to rot”.

Liverpool Council has approved a community asset transfer scheme to allow groups across the city to take ownership of land or property that the local authority does not have the finances to maintain.

The policy was signed off by the council’s cabinet when it met on Friday.

As part of the policy, council buildings or land may be leased at less than market rent in return for delivery of such social value outcomes.

The Wellington Rooms has been empty for more than 20 years much to the annoyance of local residents. Image: Google

The passing on of ownership and/or management to voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and other not-for-profits could be done on either a long-term or a short-term basis.

The community asset transfer policy has been designed to respond to the Best Value inspection which found the council’s support and leasing of properties to third-sector organisations was ad-hoc and lacked a consistent and clear direction.

Applications will be subject to council due diligence checks and processes. Potential projects will be assessed for strategic fit, deliverability and impact, and affordability.

Liverpool Council will work with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the third sector to identify any additional capacity building and feasibility funding for potential applicants with regards to community transfers.

A community asset transfer policy has also been adopted in neighbouring Wirral with golf clubs, leisure centres and tennis courts being given a lifeline from permanent closure through applications from external sources to keep them open.

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said the policy would right the wrong of the city’s buildings being left unattended. She said: “There are so many buildings or pieces of land in Liverpool that are simply being left to rot because the council does not have the finances to resurrect them – while at the same time the city’s third sector is full of ideas on how they can be used to rejuvenate a community.

“This Community Asset Transfer policy is going to right that wrong. This is going to kick-start a grassroots revolution by giving the power to the people to realise their ambitions, hopes and dreams for a plot of land or a building and unlock its potential.

“I said when I ran for Mayor that the council needed to embrace the triple-lock principle of embedding social value in our thinking and decision-making process. It’s taken time for that idea to be turned into a reality but 12 months on here is a policy that is literally going to change the face of a neighbourhood and improve the life opportunities of countless people right across the city for years to come – with social value right at the heart of that.”