Community Asset Transfer can be a daunting prospect for any amateur sports club, but in these times of economic hardship it can certainly be seen as an opportunity.
Jay Probert, Regional Development Coordinator for the Welsh Football Trust highlights some of the simple questions and considerations community groups and clubs must explore to ensure their decisions are fully informed.
Community Asset Transfer (CAT) is when land or buildings are transferred into the stewardship and/or ownership of voluntary and community sector organisations or social enterprises at below market value.
Managing and taking charge of the day-to-day running of facilities helps to empower local communities and can bring opportunities for greater independence and financial sustainability.
Community Asset Transfer is about giving local people and community groups greater control in the future of their area and their community.
If local groups own or manage community buildings, such as community centres or village halls, it can give them a real asset base to support their development. It can also play a part in improving the skills of the people involved and encourage a stronger community spirit by bringing people from different backgrounds together to work towards a shared goal.
Recently, I have been doing some work with Monmouthshire Council, who lease a number of their facilities to sports clubs.
For Bulwark RFC, a full ownership of the facility was not the best approach, so a more phased approach through long-term lease was agreed.
Bulwark Rugby Club will take on responsibility for the playing field formerly leased to Bulwark Football Club and will develop a full size rugby pitch on this land and complete the work to the sports pavilion started by Bulwark Football Club. In return, the rugby club will allow regular access by Chepstow Town Football Club to the Rugby Club’s existing training area for junior football training and playing junior matches. The two clubs will work together to set up an association to promote sport in Chepstow and to provide facilities and programmes of participation for the local community.
So, if you are thinking of going down this route there are several questions that individuals and groups involved should ask:
1. The asset itself
· What condition is the asset in?
· How old is the facility?
· What is the history of the site?
· Is the asset freehold or leasehold?
· Are there any covenants relating to the land or asset?
· Who currently uses the asset?
· Is the asset appropriate for our club in terms of size/future changing circumstances (growth or reduction in participation)
· Are there any planning permissions or constraints associated with the property (flood plain etc).What are the financial implications?
· Is the venue accessible? How much investment is required to meet current and emerging legislation?
· Are we likely to be capable of maintaining the asset directly?
· What’s included in terms of fixtures/fittings/equipment?
· What human resources currently support the operation and what skills/equipment do they have?
· Will any staff be involved/incorporated into in the transfer?
3. Surrounding location
· Location – what is the proximity to other clubs...to local amenities...to the heart of the community...to schools...to other assets about to be transferred?
· What are the site boundaries and maintenance responsibilities?
· Is parking included – if not where is nearest parking?
· Who are the neighbours?
· Is there any regeneration/investment planned for the area?
· What is the value of the asset?
· How much does it cost to operate, market and maintain?
· Does the Council wish to achieve savings through the transfer arrangement?
· Who will pay for the legal costs associated with transfer?
· Is there a dowry attached to the transfer?
5. Other important considerations
· What are the drivers for change within the LA?
· What is the composition of the community?
· What are the crime/health stats?
· Is there anyone else interested in the asset?