Community assets

Community assets

What difference can community assets make to society?


Programme Manager
Research Administrator
01904 615911

Exploring the role of community-owned land, buildings and other assets in the development of neighbourhoods.


JRF's programme of research and development, begun in 2008, aims to assess how the development of community assets can contribute to a thriving civil society.

It looks at how the ownership or management of assets can help community organisations to become more resilient, and how these support the achievement of wider social goals, e.g. empowerment, regeneration, well-being and 'place making'.

The programme considers the opportunities, barriers, issues and outcomes associated with community control of assets.

Key issues

  • Community assets are assets owned or managed by community organisations, including assets transferred from local authorities or other organisations or endowed to the community, and assets purchased independently or subsidised by other organisations.
  • Community means local, resident-led and usually neighbourhood-based organisations that are neither public nor private and usually operate on a not-for-profit basis.
  • Organisational models range from community land trusts to community development trusts and 'community anchors' -hubs of community activity.
  • The assets owned by communities are wide ranging and often centre around land and buildings. These include houses, schools, community centres, village halls and renewable energy assets.
  • JRF's programme assesses the impact of a range of approaches to asset-based community development across the UK to inform policy and practice.

Forthcoming work

JRF held a series of discussion forums in 2008 in different parts of the UK to inform this programme, and published a review of evidence on community ownership and management of assets. The review highlighted that much of the existing evidence on community assets has been produced from within the community sector, and concludes that further independent evidence is needed. JRF's work on community assets, which is being developed with others, aims to address some of these knowledge gaps to help inform future policy and practice development.

The JRF has also funded a project with the Institute of Voluntary Action Research which is examining community control of assets in practice. This project involves a survey of the community sector to gain insight into current practice on management and ownership of assets by community organisations. The project is also carrying out fieldwork with community organisations across the UK to assess the costs, benefits and critical success factors associated with community control of assets and what this achieves in practice. This project will report in 2011 and is expected to help in both national policy thinking and local practice development linking with ideas being discussed as part of the 'Big Society'.

Key links

Other sites which may be of interest include:

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