The Community Ownership Fund – round 2

UK Government has just launched the second round of the Community Ownership Fund to help communities take ownership of local assets and amenities at risk of closure.

Under round 1, 31 bids were successful, with 3 awards made in Wales – £250,000 for the Ty’n Llan pub in Gwynedd, £124,258 for the CANA Resource and Training Centre in Rhondda Cynon Taf and £90,000 for the refurbishment and redevelopment of the Queens Ballroom in Blaenau Gwent.

The second round was purposely delayed to enable UK Government to make changes to the eligibility criteria and design of the programme, following feedback from the initial round in summer 2021. The prospectus has been simplified, making it more accessible for applicants and UK Government has produced a list of supplementary documents.

KEY CHANGES

Some of the key changes to the eligibility requirements include:

  • an extension for project completion from 6 months to 12 months from the date indicated on the offer letter
  • allowing the approval of bids for assets with at least 15-year leases and reasonable break clauses (although 25-year leases are still preferable)
  • removing the requirement for projects to have had a community use in the last 5 years (although assets must still have evidence of some past community use)
  • clarifying and simplifying the eligibility requirements for publicly owned assets and sporting assets.

The application process has also been amended, with the introduction of a two-stage process. Stage 1 is an Expression of Interest (EOI) stage. Applicants can submit an EOI at any point in the programme. This will determine if they’re eligible and ready to submit a full application.  It’s designed to strengthen the application process by improving the viability of projects and ensuring applicants are aware of the eligibility requirements, ahead of submitting a full application.

SUPPORT AVAILABLE

Another change to the programme is the introduction of early-stage support for organisations that need and want it. This will be provided by an external provider (not yet appointed) and is referred to in the prospectus as the development support provider.

The first application window will open in week commencing the 6th June, with 2 further application windows opening before the end of this financial year.

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