Birmingham City Council – Community Asset Transfer Process


Since 2011 there has been a  Cabinet approved  agreed Birmingham CAT Protocol and Way of Working for city council owned assets (buildings and land). This means for Voluntary and Community Groups in Birmingham there is a consistent and transparent pathway  from the initial expression of interest to any agreed point of transfer.

Community Asset Transfer ( CAT) is not an automatic right like some of the recent  ones that have come into legislation ie Community Right to Bid and Community Right to Challenge but based on an individual business case. Please remember  not all buildings are available for CAT.

In Birmingham CAT means …..

  • Transfer of buildings and/ or land
  • Leasehold not freehold – generally on a full repairing lease and up to 25yrs (negotiable)
  • Economic Rent offset by Valuing Worth
  • to bona fide “not for profit” community  organisations (not for commercial profit making purposes but community benefit) eg Charity, CIC , Social Enterprise

A not for profit organisation can be defined as one which uses its surplus revenues to realise its social goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends plus an “asset lock ” and clearly stated social goals/ focus on community benefit.

The  Forms are available on the Tab – BCC Protocol and New Way of Working

You may find the stories on the website from Community Organisations and Officers useful if you are thinking of undertaking a CAT.

For specific buildings that are currently available for CAT you need to contact Property Services


The Guardian reports on Birmingham’s Community Asset Transfer work.

Saba Salman of the The Guardian Voluntary Sector network was attracted to write about Birmingham and it’s community asset tranfer work after finding the warts and all case studies on this website.  In a piece she called Making community asset transfer work, she wrote:

The benefits of transfer are clear – community empowerment for local people and asset disposal for the council – but how do you overcome the hurdles?

In Birmingham, the council built on its involvement in the government pilot, recently agreeing a new protocol outlining a consistent path to transfer, from initial expressions of interest to the point of handing property or land.

Karen Cheney, co-ordinator of the council’s community asset transfer development programme, believes clarity is key. “Every local authority has to be very clear as to what community asset transfer means to them.” Councils can dispose off assets at preferential rates in various ways including freehold, a long lease, a shorter lease or a licence to occupy. In Birmingham it involves transferring leasehold, because “that’s protecting both sides – if it is freehold it’s gone and if it goes wrong, retrieving the situation is more costly”. Birmingham’s transfer website is clear, packed with information and avoids any overt council branding.

She also spoke to Masood Yasin of comm:pact about how he organised the transfer of Hutton Hall – which is also covered on this site.

The Community Sport Asset Transfer Toolkit

Sport England have just launched an interactive asset transfer toolkit for sport – commissioned by Sport England and produced by Locality’s Asset Transfer Unit.

The toolkit is a good first point of information on asset transfer from a sports perspective. The toolkit provides information, resources and case studies that will be of use for anyone attempting asset transfer in a sports context.

Factsheets on swimming pools threatened with closure

Pool Watch, a partnership between The ASA and British Gas, have published a useful set of factsheets related to swimming pools threatened with closure, including a factsheet on asset transfer and asset disposal:

There are more resources and case studies on pools in the Pool Watch toolbox.

Spaces4change: A modest fun for changing unused spaces into assets for 16 to 25 years olds

UnLtd and Channel 4 have just launched a simple programme which might help someone prime some work for a community asset transfer.  Below is lifted from the Unltd website.

About the Programme

The Spaces 4 Change Awards from UnLtd and Channel 4 provides funding and support to entrepreneurial individuals across the UK. We are looking for innovative ideas that unlock unused or under-utilised spaces for young people aged 16-25. Spaces that can be used to practice their cultural, creative or sporting passions.

What is available?

32 Awards of up to £5,000 for individuals or informal groups to set-up and run their own project and support from a dedicated Development Manager.

What are we looking for?

The Spaces 4 Change Awards will support individuals or informal groups with projects that:

  • Unlocks unused or under utilised spaces in their communities;
  • Benefits young people aged 16 -25 years old, and;
  • Allows young people to practice their cultural, creative or sporting passions.

Your project must not:

  • Be part of your paid employment;
  • Involve political or religious campaigning;
  • Involve activities outside the law or against public policy, or anything that encourages ethnic, religious or commercial disharmony;
  • Involve employing people other than yourself to carry out most of the project work;
  • Be used mainly to achieve academic qualifications;
  • Be used to fund living expenses.

On going work with Community Asset Transfer in Birmingham

Community Asset Transfer…”There are risks but they can be minimised and managed – there is plenty of experience to draw on. The secret is all parties working together”

(The Quirk Review – “Making Assets Work”)

It is hoped that this website will act as a support and guide  for both public agency staff and community organisations to the ins and outs of Community Asset Transfer in Birmingham giving an interesting, creative and importantly  “warts and all”  picture of previous and current work. Continue reading “On going work with Community Asset Transfer in Birmingham”

Hutton Hall Community Centre, Washwood Heat

Opening of Hutton Hall
Opening of Hutton Hall

Photo of Hutton Hall Celebration Event by Podnosh

UPDATE jan 14 – unfortunately Hutton Hall has been taken back into the city council following  a number of difficulties with the community organisation who were the preferred community partner. There is always going to be an element of risk with CAT  but lessons have been learnt and because of the city’s policy of long lease rather than freehold it does mean the facility is still in the  public realm and may be available again in the future for CAT


On Friday, 1 April 2011 a celebration event was held at Hutton Hall Community Centre in Washwood Heath to show off the fantastic art work on the outside of the building and for its very imminent community asset transfer hand over to Commpact from Birmingham City Council.

Masood Yasin, Senior Project Manager at Commpact in Washwood Heath – with a whole host of volunteers and support from Macarts – has led this project through the community asset transfer initiative.

In this audio, Masood talks about the challenges of working through the community asset transfer – it’s been 2 years’ work. He also talks about how the hard work has paid off in a rejuvenated community centre that looks fantastic and will be a great place for young people, families and community groups to meet. He wants the centre to be the hub, the heart of the community, for everyone in Washwood Heath.


Cascading Asset Transfer

View from the Sector

Cascading Asset Transfer was a course run by the Asset Transfer Unit and funded through Capacitybuilders Income Generation Workstream, funded by Capacitybuilders and the Asset Transfer Unit.

The aim of the course is to equip workers in VCS infrastructure support organisations with the knowledge to support both VCS groups and local authorities considering or undertaking community asset transfer or asset based development.

Course Outcomes

‘Assets Ambassadors’ in local infrastructure organis- ations who can recognise and understand asset development opportunities for VCS organisations, can help develop projects and can signpost appropriately and confidently. More confidence and understanding of the process will lead to better quality projects being developed and a network of asset transfer expertise across the country.

Course Structure

The course development has been based on the Asset Transfer Partnership Routemap published in 2010, which uses case studies to map the key stages involved in successful asset transfer. The course will explore each of the crucial stages, helping those who work to support the VCS to understand the role they can play at each stage and to learn and recognise good practice.

What is community asset transfer?

The 2008 Quirk Review identified clear benefits from local groups owning or managing assets; as a means of empowering communities and as an effective way for local government to achieve its goals.

At its simplest, community asset transfer is a process by which the management or ownership of land or buildings in local authority ownership is ‘transferred’ to the voluntary & community sector (VCS). Community ownership can bring together people from different backgrounds. It can foster a sense of belonging. It can play a role in enhancing the local environment, alleviating poverty and raising people’s aspirations. Fundamentally, it’s about giving local people a bigger stake in the future of their community – the ‘Big Society’ in action.

Participants on the Cascading Asset Transfer Course on the issues facing communities around Asset Transfer.

  • The tools and resources developed and provided by the Asset Transfer Unit are useful and good.
  • Model strategies and policies are particularly useful
  • There needs to be more information about where groups can find sources of support.
  • Cascading this knowledge amongst both third sector organisations and infrastructure support will be really useful
  • There is a huge amount of uncertainty in communities at the moment about the potential future of assets and their own sustainability as organisations.
  • There needs to be more support and information on the financial support which may be available to help groups with asset transfer.
  • Infrastructure organizations are being asked to make recommendations to their own local authorities so it is useful to be able to have additiona support services through the ATU to refer people to.
  • There is a concern that the community won’t have access to “good” assets rather than those which can’t be sold quickly for capital receipts.
  • There seems to be a big push coming from local authorities and government for assets to be taken on by third sector groups- decisions may be rushed and viability is a concern.
  • Case studies are ALWAYS useful, and those available on www.buildingcommunity.org.uk are a good way of communicating ideas and stories.

To Have and To Hold- Help for Community Asset Development

Navigating Community Asset Development can be confusing, hard work and scary. Working with a whole range of partners, technical experts and professionals can be daunting even for the most experienced of groups- even harder when often you are doing this in your spare time as a volunteer!

The Asset Transfer Unit has produced a second edition of To Have and To Hold by Lorraine Hart. This is a comprehensive guide to community asset development, written by an experienced practitioner and designed to give confidence.

To Have and To Hold