Charities often face similar issues when thinking about how best to manage their environmental assets:
- Maintaining environmental assets for charitable purposes can be expensive; funds from trading subsidiaries are often needed to maintain the land.
- The mandate to use assets for the charity’s ‘primary purpose’ can limit what is possible on site: commercial activities can be restricted, limiting revenue and site productivity.
- Many sites of heritage or natural significance with expensive and complicated designations, seen as ‘liabilities’ by the private sector, will be kept in charitable ownership, increasing cost and complicating management obligations.
- Important charitable sites can be home to multiple uses, stakeholders and activities with competing needs and management requirements.
- Traditional forms of governance can be centralised and hierarchical, mitigating against new income streams and imaginative uses for different areas of land.
- Community engagement is often restricted to public access or volunteerism, limiting the diversity of people involved in the site and the level of public engagement and benefit it provides.
The National Trust have taken a pro-active approach to these issues on their Killerton Estate in Devon, leasing the land to Broadclyst Community Farm. Operating as an Industrial Provident Society with a ten-year lease, the Farm are able to use the land to its full potential.
The Broadclyst Community Farm team produce fruit and vegetables, run training schemes and educational programmes for young people and rent the site as a venue for community events. Their work cuts costs associated with the site, helps the land produce revenue and food that remains in the local community, improves the quality and value of the land, employs local people and helps to deliver the National Trust’s management obligations, conservation, education and community engagement objectives in ways that are locally relevant and tailored to local needs.
With some of the most spectacular UK landscapes in charitable ownership, the potential for shared management arrangements is huge. These places can be given a fresh lease of life with increased productivity, involving community engagement and localised management for the benefit of landowner, community and the land itself.
You can read our guide or tips for landowners on the all the potential benefits shared management arrangements can produce, or contact us if you would like to have a chat about how we can tailor this approach to you.