Eligibility for the Extended Community Ownership Fund

  • Even stronger community projects will be able to apply for funding through reforms to the government’s Community Property Fund

  • COF prospectus released outlining new eligibility criteria as well as an easier-to-use expression of interest process and support for potential candidates

  • Pubs, historic buildings and sports facilities included in projects to be taken over by community groups, following 39 assets across the UK already rescued by the fund

More community groups will be able to save valuable local assets, such as sports clubs, concert halls and historic buildings, following the expansion of leveling funding.

The Department for Levelling, Housing and Communities has today (27 May 2022) released the prospectus for the second round of its £150million Community Property Fund. Building on the successful launch of the Discovery pilot last year, which rescued 39 assets across the UK, changes to the fund will ensure it is more inclusive and flexible, following feedback from applicants previous ones.

First round funding allocations included £1million for Bury fans to save the Gigg Lane stadium, £90,000 for Queen’s Ballroom in Tredegar, Wales, and £96,000 for The pub. Racehorse Inn Community in rural Suffolk.

Changes for round two mean that even more community groups will be able to take control of locations and other assets in their region that may be lost forever. This is all part of the government’s drive to upgrade local communities across the country, create more jobs for local people, boost local businesses and thereby strengthen local economies. As part of this, the recent introduction of the Leveling and Regeneration Bill laid out plans to transform struggling towns, helping local leaders regain control of regeneration, ending the scourge of empty shops on their main streets and providing the quality homes that communities need.

The prospectus defines updated and expanded eligibility criteria. This includes removing the requirement that assets have had use within the last 5 years and will now consider any asset that has already been used by the community, massively expanding the eligible projects to apply for. Applicants who have at least a 15-year lease on an asset would now also be considered for funding. Previously, leases were limited to a minimum of 25 years.

Minister for Leveling Up, Union and Constitution, MP Neil O’Brien said:

From community centers to concert halls, the Community Property Fund is an essential tool for communities to undertake projects that will benefit their region and save assets that would otherwise have been lost forever.

We want even more communities to benefit from the fund and that is why we are reforming the application process and expanding the eligibility criteria.

We will continue to grow this fund to empower local people, restore their pride in the places they live and improve communities across the UK.

The fund is already helping communities across the country take ownership of valuable local assets that are at risk, including the UK’s most remote pub in Scotland and Gigg Lane, home of Bury FC and also:

  • Leigh Spinners Mill, the largest building in Leigh, Greater Manchester, vacant for many years. The £250,000 funding turns the space into a hotspot that provides support for community groups and creates more job opportunities.

  • Ballymacash Sports Academy in Northern Ireland which has been awarded £300,000 for the creation of state-of-the-art sports facilities and upgrading the club with a brand new 3G sports pitch – a specialist ground for football consisting of three different pitches.

  • The Queen’s Ballroom in Tredegar, Wales was saved with £90,000 funding. The historic building was originally one of the first purpose-built electric cinemas in Wales. Today, it is home to a fully-funded program that offers young people aged 7 to 18 the opportunity to learn fundamental skills for working in film.

  • A community in rural Suffolk successfully bought their local pub, the Racehorse Inn, with a £260,000 grant from the Community Ownership Fund in March 2022. Hopefully the pub will be turned into a local center with a post office and a shop to serve residents of Westhall and surrounding areas.

The first round of successful projects was announced during the spending review last fall. Applications for the second round of funding through the Community Ownership Fund will open in June this year.


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