Community Assets

Community Empowerment Act

The Community Empowerment Act makes it easier for communities in Scotland to take over land or buildings that are currently in public ownership.

The asset transfer section of the Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015 came into force in January 2017. It allows community-led organisations to request to buy, lease or use any land or buildings belonging to local councils, Scottish Ministers, and a range of other public bodies. They must show how they will use the land to benefit the community. Requests must be agreed unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal.

This is the latest section of the Act which gives more power to Scotland’s communities to have their voices heard in decisions that matter to them, and to take action for themselves.


The Scottish Government has published guidance  for both relevant authorities and community bodies. Visit the site >

There is also a summary guide available here >

Asset Transfer Requests

Asset Transfer Request legislation (Part 5 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015) creates a right for community bodies to request to buy, lease, manage or occupy land or buildings owned or leased by public authorities.

As a public authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has a duty to respond to Asset Transfer Requests. 

We have written guidance notes to assist community bodies make an Asset Transfer Request and have published a list of all the property we own or lease in our Property Register. Our guidance has been developed with regards to the Guidance for Relevant Authorities published by Scottish Government.

We develop and maintain a diverse property portfolio. In addition to the offices we use for our own purposes we hold industrial and office buildings together with commercial development sites. As we regularly lease and sell our property, community bodies are encouraged to enquire about the status of an asset before making an Asset Transfer Request.

For more information or an informal discussion, please contact:

Sandra Holmes
Community Assets Sector Lead
0300 013 5078

To make an asset transfer request, please email

or mail to:

Craig Lawrence
An Lòchran
10 Inverness Campus

Participation Requests

A participation request is a process which enables a community to request to work alongside a public service authority to improve an outcome. Communities have a right to make a participation request as set out in Part 3 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

The community should outline how it can help achieve the improvement it has identified when requesting to be involved in process. This provides an opportunity for the community to set the agenda around how to tackle the need or issue it's identified. 

As a public service authority, HIE has a duty to respond to Participation Requests.

How does a participation request to HIE work?

This is set out in detain in the Act and the Scottish Government’s Participation Requests Guidance, but in simple terms:

  • The community submits a Participation Request to HIE, detailing the outcome it wishes to improve and how it can contribute to an improvement process
  • We must agree to the request an set up an process to consider the proposed improvement, unless we have reasonable grounds to refuse the request
  • At the end of the process we must publish a report on whether the outcome was improved and how the community contributed to this improvement

Who can make a participation request?

Only a ‘community participation body’ can use these provisions.  This is detailed in Section 20 of the Act and includes a community controlled body, a community body without a constitution, a community council or a body designated by the Scottish Ministers.

A community participation body could represent a community of interest or a geographic community (i.e. a community of place).

What is an outcome?

The community must identify an outcome that relates to a service provided by HIE.  The Act does not define what an outcome is, but essentially this is a change, a benefit, or learning that results from services we provide. 

Outcomes can occur at different levels, including: individuals and families; organisations; communities; the environment; and systems/structures such as a reduction in traffic congestion from provision of cycle routes.

How do I make a participation request to HIE?

As a first step we would welcome an informal discussion with you.  This will help us understand the outcome you wish to improve and how best we can support you to make the request. However, you are not obliged to discuss your request with us prior to formally submitting it.

We would encourage you to read Scottish Government’s Participation Requests Guidance prior to making a request.

Download the Participation Request form >

Please email your completed form to

or mail to:

Craig Lawrence
An Lòchran
10 Inverness Campus

For more information, an informal discussion, or to request assistance to make a Participation Request, please contact:

Sandra Holmes
Community Assets Sector Lead
t: 0300 013 5078





Back to top