There is still time ot have your say on WHALE Arts ongoing consultation asking local residents, workers and volunteers what they want to happen at the WHALE Arts site as part of a Community Asset Transfer project.
Although WHALE owns its building, it currently leases the land that the building sits on from the council. The lease ends in a few years’ time, and it’s time to make a decision: renew it, or take ownership of the site on behalf of the community. As well as the WHALE site on Westburn Grove, which includes the existing community garden, another possibility is to apply for a Community Asset Transfer extending to the kickabout next door and/or part of the surrounding area of woodland. If this goes ahead, WHALE would own, look after manage and develop these assets on behalf of the community of Wester Hailes, in line with its objectives as a charity.
They have created a short survey to collect initial ideas from local residents and those who work or volunteer locally.
We would really appreciate it if you would take the time to complete the survey online by following this link: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WhaleArts
You can choose to complete either a shorter (3-5 mins) version which focuses solely on the Community Asset Transfer process, or a longer (8-12 mins) version of the survey which asks a few further questions relating to WHALE.
If you have any difficulties with the online survey, would prefer a printable PDF version or have further questions, please contact Judith on 07927118995 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background – What is Community Asset Transfer?
A Community Asset Transfer is a process that recognises the benefits of community use and ownership by allowing community organisations to take over publicly owned land or buildings. Asset Transfer was implemented as part of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. Over the past several years, legislation and national policy in Scotland has developed to encourage and support the ownership of assets (buildings and /or land) by communities. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015; The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003; a joint COSLA/Scottish Government Statement 2008 and a Community Empowerment Action Plan in 2009. Further reading: – https://dtascommunityownership.org.uk/community/community-asset-transfer/asset-transfer-policy-benefits/what-asset-transfer
Why is WHALE Arts talking about Community Asset Transfer just now?
WHALE Arts has been working in Wester Hailes for 28 years, since 1992. Originally based in the Blue Hut on the Murrayburn Greenway, WHALE Arts moved to the site we work from today. The WHALE Arts Centre was designed and built in the late 90’s and opened in 2000. The reason we are talking about Asset Transfer now is because although the community own the building, the land is owned by City of Edinburgh Council and leased to WHALE Arts. The original 25-year lease has only 4 years left, running until 2024. We could ask City of Edinburgh Council to extend the lease instead of bringing the land into community ownership, however the benefits of full community ownership are clear (see below), so we felt that now is a good time to explore Asset Transfer.
What are the benefits of Community Ownership?
Usually communities want to bring buildings and land into community ownership to create a new physical base for the community to work and/or socialise from. However, because WHALE Arts already own the building – and from this base deliver a broad range of creative and community activities – the reasons for doing this are to develop the building and the garden with a view to creating new enterprise activity which will create jobs, training and business opportunities for local residents. Other benefits include skills and capacity development for local residents in learning about community ownership, as well as security for the future of WHALE Arts. Further reading here on the benefits of Community Ownership – https://dtascommunityownership.org.uk/community/community-asset-transfer/asset-transfer-policy-benefits/benefits-community-ownership
What is the process, how long will this take?
An important part of the process is providing evidence of the need for WHALE Arts to exist into the future. We also need to show that the organisation can survive financially. To do this we are currently working with Community Enterprise on a community consultation, a business plan, and land valuation. We should have a business plan completed by late May 2021. During the summer 2021 we will work with the Members to take this to the next stage, this may involve applying to Scottish Land Fund for funding to buy the land from City of Edinburgh Council, or it may involve a negotiation with City of Edinburgh Council direct. So our hope is that this process will be complete by late 2021.
How can I get involved and find out more?
There are lots of ways that you can get involved!