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DCC Community Asset Transfer – guidance pack


Last Updated

1. Introduction

1.1 In basic terms, a community asset transfer is the transfer of management and or ownership of public land or buildings from public bodies (usually the local authority) to community organisations, for less than market value, to achieve a local social, economic or environmental benefit.

1.2 Devon County Council is proud to have partnered with a number of communities in recent years and successfully transferred the management or ownership to local organisations.

1.3. We recognise that transferring assets to the local community can result in benefits such as:

  • empowering local communities by shaping and regenerating them, building capacity, encouraging them to work together and improving local democracy
  • creating stronger, more sustainable voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations
  • effective and more intensive use of local resources, extending use and increasing value to the community
  • generating long-term sustainable revenue streams for community organisations, making them more sustainable
  • providing VCS organisations with financial security, recognition, management capacity and leverage to attract new finance to expand the level of community activity

1.4. We also recognise that taking on full responsibility for a property is a substantial commitment for community organisations. It is not always the only or best way to make sure that your community has access to the services that you would like to see provided. It is important to think through the pros and cons of such a project.

2. Purpose of this guidance

2.1 This guide aims to help organisations who are seriously considering what is needed in order to take over the running or ownership of an asset. It will provide you with guidance on how to progress your application as well as links to other information or resources which may help you. The document is divided into two sections.

2.2 DCC reserve the right to update or amend the guidance. Last updated November 2021.

3. Key stages

3.1 Once the council has declared an asset available for disposal or community transfer, then if an organisation wishes to take on the asset, the key activities are as outlined below.

  1. Contact DCC to express an interest in a site.
  2. Organisation and DCC work collaboratively to assess and discuss options.
  3. Submit a business plan and application questionnaire.
  4. Officer evaluation of application.
  5. Officer financial evaluation to make recommendation to the director of finance.
  6. Recommendation to appropriate cabinet member.
  7. Cabinet member makes community asset transfer decision.
  8. Handover of asset to successful organisation.

4. Motivation, sustainability and outcomes

4.1 Motivations – before considering a community transfer it is important for your organisation to consider the motivations for taking on the new asset. Ideally, there will be a strong link between the core purpose of your organisation and the potential for the asset to help achieve that purpose.

4.2 Sustainable – a key consideration for your organisation is whether it will be sustainable to take on a community asset. By this we mean, is this a project which your community group can continue in the long run. The business plan will help you as you consider what happens if key stakeholders leave the project, how resilient the organisation is to adapting to change, how the building will be financed and how you will manage the building in the long-term.

4.3 Outcomes – Devon County Council is keen to understand the outcomes that will be achieved by transferring the asset. It is easy for organisations to measure success by activities but the evaluation criteria for a community asset transfer is strongly weighted towards what outcomes the activities achieve.

4.4 The example below is how you could start to consider the outcomes your project activity service achieves – this will be important in the evaluation criteria outlined later in this guide.

Activity – What did you do?

IT classes to promote computer literacy

Output – What happened as a direct result of the activity?

15 people attend weekly classes for 2 months. Of those, 3 people were unemployed and 5 people were over 65 years.

Outcomes – What longer-term change has occurred as a result?

  • Improved IT skills and digital skills.
  • Improved confidence in accessing online information and materials – including job support information.
  • Reduced social isolation by improving skills with social media and ability to community and engage with younger generations.
  • Building employment skills to contribute to the local economy.

5. Business plan

5.1 The template provided in this guidance pack is not exhaustive and there may be other information and sections which your organisation wants to add.

5.2 The aim of the business plan is to provide your community and DCC with assurance that:

  • the community asset helps your organisation achieve its core objectives and these objectives benefit the local community
  • the organisation has robust governance, procedures, financial plans and operational plans in place to sustainably manage the community asset in question

5.3  The reason for having it in a template is to allow us to efficiently evaluate proposals on a consistent basis.

5.4 The business plan should provide DCC with background information on your organisation, your achievements to date, your plans for the future and how the community asset will be used or involved in achieving these objectives. Most importantly, the plan should be developed with active involvement of key stakeholders – whether that is trustees, local councillors, community members or other stakeholders.

5.5 The business plan should be:

  • no more than 20 pages (10 pages if double-sided)
  • focussed and to the point
  • easy to understand

6. Applying for the transfer of asset

6.1 If there is more than one organisation interested in the site then a collaborative approach and a combined proposal is preferred. If this cannot be achieved, then each interested organisation (or consortium of organisations) will be required to submit a proposal.

6.2 In the event of more than one proposal being submitted the proposal achieving the highest level of discount will be the preferred bid and that party will be offered the site at a discounted value.

If that party declines to purchase the site at the offered amount then DCC is able to offer the site to the other party(ies). The offer price to any alternative party will be at the agreed discount for their proposal.

6.3 Questions and clarification to DCC may be raised during the proposal preparation process. All questions and answers will be shared with all bidding parties.

6.4  DCC will only make a transfer at below open market, or ‘best value’, using our process for ‘Disposal of assets of community value’ to a relevant organisation, such as a government body or charity, as defined in the Localism Act regulation, available at our Democracy website.

6.5 Any offer price will be linked to the value for the site as determined by DCC and or their agent.

6.6 If no parties wish to purchase the building at the offered discounted value then DCC will be able to reconsider disposal options, including an open market disposal.

7. The transfer of assets

7.1  Interested eligible parties will typically be required to purchase the site from DCC, although alternative options such as a long (10 years or greater) full repairing lease may be proposed.

7.2 The site will be transferred ‘as is’. Whilst DCC may share recent building reports, you should obtain independent advice before completing any legal transfer. Once the transfer is complete, we do not provide any premises support.

7.3 Within any transfer of the site usage covenants are included that control what the property is used for.

7.4 Your organisation will need to have relevant insurance but the type and level may vary depending on the risks to your organisation. It might include:

  • public liability insurance
  • lift insurance
  • employer liability insurance (only if you employ people)
  • trustee liability
  • building and contents insurance
  • vehicle insurance

7.5 Equality and diversity – DCC is committed to challenging inequality and celebrating diversity. Organisations will need to align to the principles of and sign up to the Devon Joint Declaration for Equality.

7.6 Further information is available on our joint declaration for equality webpage.

8. Evaluation

8.1 The DCC evaluation will score all proposals against our key priorities, detailed in the DCC ‘Best place’ strategic plan; key themes are explained in the guidance, and are:

  • respond to the climate emergency
  • be ambitious for children and young people
  • support sustainable economic recovery
  • tackle poverty and inequality
  • improve health and wellbeing
  • help communities be safe, connected and resillient

8.2  Further information about our strategic plan is available here.

8.3 The business plan and questionnaire will be evaluated within DCC by a panel of DCC officers or councillors or both.

8.4 Following the evaluation a recommendation of discount, based on the evaluation score, will be made by the panel to the lead DCC councillor for such community asset transfers (currently the cabinet member for policy, corporate and asset management).

8.5 The recommendation will be subject to approval of DCC councillors.

8.6 Decisions of the panel are final and detailed scoring will not be shared with bidding organisations.

9. Future changes to site use and or ownership

9.1 DCC will include as standard, overage[1] clauses in any transfer to share in any future increased sale value.

9.2 If the receiving organisation ceases to provide the services that the original proposal was based on DCC will seek to recover an element (up to 100%) of the discount that was applied at the time of the original disposal.

9.3 If the receiving organisation wishes to later transfer the ownership of the site then all the provisions of the usage covenants, including any overage would transfer to the new owners unless released by agreement of DCC.

9.4 With the agreement of DCC the site may be sold for purposes other than that defined in the usage covenant, if the proceeds (less any overage liable to DCC) are reinvested to provide similar or enhanced services to the community.

9.5 With the agreement of DCC the site may be sold for a development use. In this instance DCC would recover the financial value of any discount granted when the site was transferred from DCC and apply an overage to the residual financial uplift in value.

DCC will include as standard, a first refusal buyback clause.

[1] Overage is used to describe a sum of money in addition to the original sale price which DCC would be entitled to receive following the transfer of the asset if and when the receiving organisation complies with agreed conditions. This would be payable to DCC if the site should later be sold by the receiving organisation for a financial sum above the transfer price and would be a percentage of the increased value.

10. Contact information

10.1 If you have any questions or concerns at any point then please contact our Estates Team at

10.2 Websites for help and guidance:

Section 1 Part A -Business plan template

Section 2 Part B - Application questionnaire