10 amazing community-owned buildings

Posted on the 8th September 2016

Some beautiful and unusual buildings and land are in community ownership.

A growing number of groups are getting together to rescue much-loved places from redevelopment or demolition – from castles and piers to public toilets.

Could your community take ownership of a local space? To inspire you, here’s a list of 10 amazing community-owned buildings in England.

Bramley Baths, Leeds


When Bramley Baths was threatened with closure, a group of local residents campaigned successfully to take over the management of the leisure centre from Leeds City Council (LCC) on 1 January 2013.

Hastings Pier, Hastings


Image via the Hastings Pier Charity website

Hastings Pier was left to slowly decay and was even set on fire before a group of Hastings residents took it over in 2013 from its absent landlord, with support from Hastings Council. Now, with a Big Lottery grant, work is underway to bring the pier back to its former glory, creating new jobs and drawing more visitors to the town.

Whittington Castle, Shropshire

Whittington Castle

Image by Peter Bruffell via creativecommons.org

The 12th century Whittington Castle sits in the middle of the village of Whittington in Shropshire. It’s England’s only community-owned and run castle and thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant has just had a £1.5m renovation. The castle is steeped in legend and rumoured to be haunted by a plethora of spooks including two ghostly children.

Fordhall Organic Farm, Shropshire

Fordhall Organic Farm
Fordhall Organic Farm

Image by Lisa Perry, via creativecommons.org

Fordhall Farm in Market Drayton was one of the first modern organic farms in the world, but in 2005 it was due to be sold to developers. A local brother and sister duo rallied the community to raise the money to buy the farm through community shares – Sting made a donation. Now Fordhall is open for business and is the UK’s first community-owned farm.

Westmill Solar Co-op Wind Farm, Oxfordshire

Fordhall Organic Farm
Fordhall Organic Farm

Image via Wikipedia under creativecommons.org

Westmill Solar Co-operative in Oxfordshire is believed to be the world’s largest co-operatively owned solar project. It covers 30 acres and generates enough energy a year to power 1,400 homes. Westmill has 1,648 shareholders and is shortlisted for the Observer Ethical Awards 2014.

The Burrow, Devon


Image via theundergroundshop.weebly

The Burrow in Exbourne is a community-owned shop with a difference – it’s underground. Like something from The Hobbit, this little shop, café and post office is built underneath a field in the centre of the village, and is the UK’s only underground shop.

Forum Cinema, Northumberland


Image by Mike Quinn via creativecommons.org

The Forum, the only cinema in Tynedale, opened in 1937. After changing hands many times, and closing down for some years, the cinema was bought in 2007 by the Hexham Community Partnership, a community group. It now operates as a successful local business, with all profits used for the benefit of the town.

Broadhurst Park, Manchester


Image via FWP Group

FC United was formed in 2005 when hundreds of disillusioned fans left Manchester United after its takeover by the Glazer group. FC United now has its own semi-professional team, entirely owned by the fans. Broadhurst Park is set to be FC United’s home stadium and is currently under construction, due to be finished in September 2014.

Eardisland Community Shop, Herefordshire


Image by Mark Willis

Eardisland Community Shop is probably the only shop in the world to be situated inside a dovecote. The community shop is located on the ground floor of a beautiful 17th century dovecote building, also home to the village’s information centre.

Loop de Loop, Somerset

Loop de Loop cafe
Loop de Loop cafe

Image from the Loop de Loop facebook page

A local resident helped turn a disused public toilet in Frome into a mini art gallery, by raising over £10,000 from funders, using crowdfunding website Spacehive. The quirky and creativeLoop de Loop gallery now houses local art and sells food, in a little building that used to be five toilets.

Find out more about asset transfer, how to list an asset of community value or theCommunity Owned and Managed Assets programme under Community Assets.

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