This website uses cookies. Continue browsing if you consent to this, or view our privacy policy.

Exploring small-scale land opportunities in Scotland

Miranda Geelhoed

Today, the Scottish Land Commission publishes a Land Focus briefing which identifies opportunities for work to improve access to land for small-scale land ownership, management and use. With a focus on collaboration and pioneering models, we set out to explore what can be achieved in practice to create new small-scale land opportunities and where reform and more support are necessary.

The Scottish Land Commission works towards increasing the involvement of people in decisions about land, ensuring that power and control in land is shared more widely and that the value and benefits of land are shared and used fairly. Increasing small-scale land opportunities can support the delivery of all these objectives and more, yet small-scale land use faces a lot of barriers. Our work will aim to assist with overcoming barriers and help create new small-scale land opportunities.

Reflections from the SLC Conference

The recent Scottish Land Commission Conference which took place on the 13th of June in Aviemore highlighted the importance of the topic of small-scale land use for many stakeholder organisations and individuals. By exploring different models for creating small-scale land opportunities across public, private and community-owned land, we discovered many benefits of collaborative approaches to enabling small-scale land use. These include options to share and combine financial resources, assets, skills and expertise, and to potentially access different funding pots. The importance of collaboration was also highlighted with reference to opportunities for mutual learning and finding common ground, and for bringing jobs that can feel isolated, like some farming jobs, into collective and inclusive models.

Bringing people together can, however, also bring challenges, and building solid relationships requires time and capacity. Additionally, participants raised concerns about a lack of joined-up policies and regulatory reforms, and barriers to realising innovative models due to some inflexible funding systems. For example, funding and financing, alongside planning mechanisms, are key issues emerging from conversations about rural housing supply – our work will consider how smaller and community-led developers can access land for development to help meet local housing needs.

Supporting small-scale land opportunities

In conversation with stakeholder and partner organisations and individuals that are pioneering new approaches to small-scale ownership, management and use, the Scottish Land Commission has identified four opportunities for further work, as detailed in our Land Focus briefing:

  • To promote and support collaborative approaches to enable and increase access to land for small-scale land ownership, management, and use.
  • To promote and support public sector leadership in increasing access to land for small-scale land ownership, management, and use.
  • To take lessons from crofting for land reform and our work on small-scale land opportunities and support crofting’s development, in collaboration with the Crofting Commission.
  • To identify and help address public policy and finance barriers to realising small-scale land ownership, management, and use.

Across these areas, we are looking to develop policy and practice advice for realising new small-scale land opportunities. This includes development of guidance in relation to governance, in support of new collaborations, as well as the facilitation of conversations and relations and, where appropriate, expansion of our evidence base in relation to small-scale land opportunities in Scotland.  

Getting involved

The SLC Conference provided a first opportunity to have a conversation with public and private organisations, landowners and (potential) land users who are interested in the topic of small-scale land use. We are now looking forward to continuing the discussion, to better understand what obstacles there are to realising small-scale land opportunities, and how new opportunities could be created.

We invite you to get in touch with us to share your experiences, ideas and feedback, across all models of small-scale land access and use.