Community Assets

Community, Ownership and Land Reform

PEDAL aims to bring a range of valu­able phys­ic­al assets — such as land, build­ings, or renew­able energy infra­struc­ture — into com­munity own­er­ship. This will sup­port the pro­cess of re-loc­al­isa­tion and the cre­ation of a more resi­li­ent Portobello. By own­ing and con­trolling such assets our com­munity can:

  • Be sure those assets will be used in ways the com­munity needs and wishes them to, both now and in the future;
  • Make a wider range of ser­vices and oppor­tun­it­ies (e.g. bet­ter meet­ing spaces, low cost work space/studios, more recre­ation­al oppor­tun­it­ies, more jobs) avail­able in Portobello;
  • Generate income by trad­ing, for example through let­ting office space, selling loc­ally-pro­duced food, or selling elec­tri­city to the National Grid. This money could then be rein­ves­ted in oth­er loc­al projects.
  • Enable us to improve the loc­al area, for example the appear­ance of key loc­al build­ings or areas of land, and main­tain it better;
  • Have a renewed sense of pride in being part of a com­munity that owns its own assets.

In 2008 we began devel­op­ing plans for a multi-pur­pose com­munity facil­ity that would also act as a demon­stra­tion of cut­ting-edge envir­on­ment­al tech­no­logy. We named this concept the ‘Transition Hub’. Unfortunately, des­pite our best efforts, we did­n’t secure fund­ing to devel­op the Transition Hub further.

However, PEDAL remains com­mit­ted to help­ing secure mod­ern, avail­able, flex­ible space for loc­al groups that is built to high envir­on­ment­al stand­ards, and we want to work with oth­ers to make this hap­pen. In fact, we’ve recently been approached by Portobello Community Centre Management Committee to feed into their plans for re-devel­op­ing the centre.

Town Hall?

We’d also like to kick off the pro­cess of examin­ing, as a com­munity, what the Town Hall should be for and wheth­er it is really being used to the max­im­um bene­fit of the loc­al com­munity. Can we – should we – bring the Town Hall back under com­munity con­trol? This is some­thing that oth­er loc­al groups would need to sup­port and be involved in, but we are happy to start the discussion!

We think that the Town Hall is under-used, is not a very flex­ible or avail­able space, and is a bit expens­ive to hire.  We think it could be bet­ter used to enable a whole range of ven­tures to flour­ish right at the centre of the com­munity — for example a cinema club, a monthly farm­ers mar­ket, and more gigs!

Land Reform

One way of mak­ing all this hap­pen is to press for a change in legis­la­tion and in the approach taken by loc­al gov­ern­ment and oth­er pub­lic bod­ies to man­aging loc­al assets. For example, we would like to see:

  • The coun­cil and oth­er pub­lic bod­ies begin to trans­fer assets to com­munity organ­isa­tions at less than  mar­ket value, where this would bring sig­ni­fic­ant bene­fit for the community;
  • The exten­sion of the com­munity-right-to-buy legis­la­tion to cov­er urb­an com­munit­ies as well as rur­al ones. This would enable us to register an interest in, and have right of first refus­al over, prop­erty that comes up for sale and could be used for the bene­fit of the community.

Although our imme­di­ate focus is on help­ing to regen­er­ate and strengthen Portobello’s loc­al eco­nomy, part of our wider interest is in push­ing for changes that will enable all com­munit­ies to receive the sup­port they need to relocalise.