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Organising and deciding Spaces and services

How you’re making it happen with assets and legal bodies support

Since we launched Make it Happen, our enhanced package of support for Big Local areas, two offers have been significantly more popular than the rest…

Behind every brilliant community space, there are key technicalities to navigate and a whole new vocabulary to master. You might find yourself negotiating leases, requesting planning permission, understanding what makes a CIO different to a CIC, and completing essential application forms.

And with many Big Local areas considering assets and incorporation as part of their legacy plans, it’s no wonder that 60 Big Local areas are making the most of our offers with partners Locality and Shared Assets.

A tricky toilet block in Sompting

In March 2022, Sompting Big Local area asked for specialist assets support and guidance for their project to install a new toilet block in the local park. The toilet block would replace an old and dilapidated block in a well-used park in the heart of the area.

The project came about after the partnership’s research identified that a lack of knowledge about public toilets leads to 1 in 5 local people not venturing out. They also wanted to make sure that the new toilets were vandal-proof after finding that vandalism is the main cause of public toilets closing down.

The brief included many challenges, including multiple stakeholders who all needed to agree and coordinate around the project. So, we introduced the Sompting Big Local to our assets partner Locality. They encouraged the partnership to hire a Capital Project Manager who could oversee the detail of the project to completion. Locality helped the partnership negotiate this hire with local stakeholders including the Parish council  and prepared a job specification. They provided regular in-person, practical support, including convening meetings between different stakeholders and making sure the momentum was maintained and offered their expertise around project planning, planning permissions and local compliance.

The partnership have reflected that their Locality advisors fitted in well with the partnership and the worker reported that their help has boosted the confidence of the partnership in understanding what needs to be done and when to make the project a success.

Long-term asset sustainability in Little Hulton

One of the 60 Big Local areas that Locality have been working with is Little Hulton, who are keen to make sure their community hub is financially sustainable for years to come.

As well as completing three cashflow forecasts, Locality conducted a revenue funding grant search and pulled their findings together in a document that included:

  • direct links to the applications,
  • the deadlines for each of the grants,
  • the minimum and max funding available,
  • a RAG rating to indicate which funds were best fit with their ambitions,
  • and the criteria they should align with in their application.

I’ve enjoyed working with Locality. I’ve found them supportive, I’ve found them knowledgeable. They’ve been people you can just have a chat with and I’d recommend them to other Big Local areas.”

Alison Jones, Little Hulton Big Local

The difference bespoke support can make

From speaking to partnerships who have been working with Locality and Shared Assets so far, it’s clear that their support is enabling areas to overcome common challenges, and that working with national providers can bring huge benefits.

One of those challenges is how slowly assets and incorporation projects can progress, and the number of steps that need to be taken along the way – the sometimes long wait for decisions to be made can easily dampen enthusiasm.

Cars Area Big Local shared that one of the best parts of the support they received from Locality wasn’t just being walked through the processes of their local council, but also the reassurance that it’s normal for it to take time, reducing their stress and anxiety.

Importantly, working with a support partner also helps to enable resident-led decision-making, by imparting the knowledge partnerships need to make complex or technical decisions.

For Hawksworth Wood Estate, the Abbeydales and the Vespers (HAVA) Big Local the objective, outside perspective of Locality was invaluable. Their advisor brought knowledge and detail and acted as a sounding board to help the partnership develop their ideas.

Your Big Local partnership may also find that elements of securing a community asset and becoming a legal body overlap – if that’s the case, our support partners can help you prioritise the most important issues.

HAVA, whose legacy plans required both elements of support, were able to make progress on their business plan by taking action one step at a time.


Exploring your next steps

We know that assets and incorporation won’t be part of every Big Local area’s journey. But if your partnership is interested in exploring next steps, you’ll be in good company. There are now more than 100 community assets that Big Local areas have invested in, purchased, or leased in their communities.

To find our how Locality or Shared Assets could help you start your assets and incorporation journey, please get in touch using the form below.

Or sign up for a speedy support session on 12 December 2023 here.


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About the author
Alexander Small

Partnerships & learning intern