In 2019, Shared Assets was funded by Power to Change to find out more about people in England using land for social and environmental benefits (who we call ‘common good land users’), particularly focusing on the activities of such groups, their networks, the barriers they are facing, and the support they require to succeed.
We did a survey which over 100 people and organisations filled in, completed in-depth interviews, and ran three workshops across the country to build a detailed picture of ‘common good land users’ - the first time such a piece of research had been carried out.
From this research, we produced a report giving a snapshot of the sector in 2019, and four ‘quick guides’ aimed at various audiences interested in learning more about common good land use – potential common good land users, current common good land users, landowners, and funders and policy makers.
Some of the key findings from the report were that common good land users are:
- Generally managing small parcels of land (although some operate at a significant scale)
- Most often working on woodland, horticultural land, or parks/open space (and in many cases on more than one type of land)
- Highly dependent on freelance or part-time staff and volunteers
- Usually working with small budgets and surpluses
- Earning income through selling products and services, but also reliant on grants and fundraising
- Managing a mix of legal organisational forms and relationships to the land
- Part of vibrant and effective local networks and relationships, and drawing on their local community for advice and support
- Needing external support for more technical issues such as legal advice, but are most in need of more skilled staff and secure funding streams