Take ownership of green spaces

Our guide to managing a patch of land as a community will help you make your neighbourhood better for wildlife.

An adult and their child planting a tree together.
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When it comes to making your neighbourhood better for wildlife, one of the most powerful – and rewarding – things you can do is to take on the ownership of a patch of land and manage it together as a community. There are lots of things to consider if you’d like to go down this route, but we have plenty of advice to help you.

Green spaces run by local people, for local people

A quiet revolution has been taking place across the UK. From sleepy villages to bustling cities, communities have been coming together to take ownership of assets within their neighbourhood.  

You might have heard of community groups running their local Post Office or saving a beloved pub from closure. But there are also lots of examples of patches of land either being gifted to communities or having their ownership changed so that they can be managed for the benefit of wildlife and local people. Often these are pieces of land that are either neglected or abandoned and are crying out for some TLC. 

When communities are empowered to take action and shape the future of their neighbourhood, a whole world of exciting opportunities opens up.  

What’s your vision?

Imagine for a moment that you had the power to transform an unloved patch of ground in your area. What would you do with it?  

Perhaps you’d create a community orchard dotted with benches where people can enjoy a quiet moment of reflection surrounded by spring blossom, and then come together in autumn to gather and share out the harvest?  

Or maybe you picture a swathe of colourful wildflowers cross-crossed by paths, where children can watch bees bumble from flower to flower or enjoy a picnic amongst the swaying blooms

Whatever your vision, we have tips on how to make it a reality. 

Two children sat on a field of grass searching for bugs with magnifying glasses.

Getting started

Once you’ve set your sights on a patch of land, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who owns the land? Is it private, local authority or charity owned? You might be able to find out by simply knocking on doors and having a chat or you could look on the Land Registry website.
  • What kind of land is it? Is it common land, for example?
  • Can the land be owned by communities, rather than private individuals? For example, local authorities can offer assets to communities through their community asset transfer process. Our friends at MyCommunity and Citizens Advice Bureau have more information on what this entails.
  • What do you need to put in place to take ownership? Make it legal!
  • Are there any risks to consider, such as health and safety issues? 

Many of these questions can be answered by visiting the Land Registry website.

A person in wellies watering a young tree in the ground with a watering can.

What next?

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to set up a community group of like-mined people with a desire to take action for nature where you live. We’ve got step-by-step instructions to help you do this.

When land ownership is involved, it’s best to bring in a solicitor to help with any legal paperwork. You might also decide to use a third party to manage the land in accordance with the management plan you decide as a group. For example, Fields in Trust help communities to protect green spaces in perpetuity

A person using shears to cut back a tree.

Helpful resources

  • The Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) has been funded by the Scottish Government to support community-based groups in Scotland to take a stake in, or take ownership of, previously publicly owned land or buildings. This adviser-based service is being delivered Scotland-wide and aims to provide individual community groups and public bodies with a bespoke support service. You can find out more on the Community Ownership Support Service website.
  • For more information on community ownership of land in public policy and market practice, visit our friends at the Community Land Trust Network.
  • Check out the Parks Community website for lots of helpful advice and inspiration for community groups.