Community Asset Transfer is the name given to the process of moving a building, plot of land or other facility from municipal control to charities, town or village councils or other community groups.
In Bradford the process has seen an art gallery, village hall and public toilets taken over by local groups.
At a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive this week members were asked to update the policies for making such transfers.
Members were told that since the introduction of the Community Asset Transfer Policy in 2015, 36 assets have been taken over by community groups. A further 63 projects are at various stages of the process.
A report to the Executive said: “The number of ‘live’ CAT projects is believed to be the highest for any local authority in the country.”
Once an asset is transferred from the Council, it opens the door for its new owners to apply for funding that would not be available to Councils.
This has been the case with one of the most prominent asset transfers – South Square Centre in Thornton.
The Grade II listed arts and community centre had been run by Thornton and Allerton Community Association since the 1980s, and the group officially took over running the building from the Council this year.
Since then it has been awarded Heritage Lottery funding.
Other facilities that have been transferred include Great Horton Village Hall, which was handed to the Red Letter Project in 2018.
Public toilets in Bingley Town Centre have been transferred to Bingley Town Council.
And Bingley Pool, which had been earmarked, is due to be handed to the Friends of Bingley Pool, a group that hopes to keep the facility running, next year.
At the online meeting Neil Charlesworth, Strategic Asset Manager, said: “The process has been very successful in Bradford. With South Square we’ve seen the benefits, where they have been able to get a lot of external investment that would be unavailable to us if we were running the building. They have been able to raise almost £1m so far.”
Councillor Alex Ross Shaw, Executive for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This can be the best way of delivering the best outcomes for communities. South Square has been a great success of this type of process.”
Changes approved by the Executive include the length of lease under transfers. Currently the lease is 25 years, but this will be extended to up to 39 years if needed, with longer leases of up to 99 years only granted in exceptional cases.