Community empowerment act

Community Empowerment Act

Find out what your rights are under the law.

How you can benefit from the Community Empowerment Act 

Communities who have their own land or buildings can create income streams, employment opportunities, and build a stable environment for their own futures. They can develop local services and activities and make their area a better place to live. 

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 can be used to support communities realise ambitions of owning and managing land, buildings and assets.

Local councils, the Scottish Government and other public authorities own or rent lots of land and buildings, like schools, hospitals, parks and forests. We're classed as an asset-owning ‘relevant authority’ under the Act, so you can apply to us to make 'Asset Transfer Requests'. You can find out what land and assets we own in our asset register.  

View our asset register

You can also have a look at the Scottish Government's summary guide on their website for more information.


We publish details of the requests received, their outcome, and our annual reports. If you want to know more we have a list of FAQs for Participation Requests, and there's a direct link to the full Act below.

HIE's property register

Interested in what assets we own? See the list here.

Our latest property register
Round The Table

Participation request

A participation request enables communities to have their say about how our services can be improved. See our frequently asked questions for more detail.

What is the purpose of a participation request

A participation request is designed to provide greater community involvement in the running of local assets or services where it will benefit the community. Communities can approach 'relevant authorities', including us, with proposals to achieve an 'outcome' that relates to the publicly-owned service or asset.

An outcome is the change that results from as service we provide or deliver. When making a request, you must set out the outcome the community wishes to improve.

Outcomes can occur at different levels, including: individuals and families, organisations, communities, the environment and systems or structures.

Who can make a participation request?

Any group of people can come together to make a participation request. This could be an existing group such as a community council, a development trust or a business association, or a new group or organisation could be formed. The group can represent a community of interest or a geographic community.

There are some requirements, such as the group being open to members of the community, but these will be met in most cases. We can let you know if your group is eligible to make a request and can guide you if changes are required.

What's involved in a participation request to us?

This is set out in detail in the Act and the Scottish Government’s Participation Requests Guidance, but in simple terms:

  • The community submits a participation request to HIE, detailing the outcome it wishes to improve and how it can contribute to an improvement process.
  • We set up a process and work with you to consider the proposed improvement.
  • At the end of the process we publish a report on whether the outcome was improved and how the community contributed to this improvement.

For more information, an informal discussion, or to request assistance to make a participation request, please contact: 

Sandra Holmes
Head of Community Assets
t: 01463 383309

How does my community make a participation request to HIE?

As a first step we would welcome an informal discussion with you.  This will help us understand the outcome you wish to improve and how best we can support you to make the request. However, you are not obliged to discuss your request with us prior to formally submitting it.

We would encourage you to read Scottish Government’s Participation Requests Guidance prior to making a request.

Download the Participation Request form >

Please email your completed form to

or sent it to:
Sandra Holmes
Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Taigh Fearna
Lochalsh Business Park
IV40 8EG

For more information, an informal discussion, or to request assistance to make a participation request, please contact: 
Sandra Holmes
Head of Community Assets
t: 01463 383309

Asset Transfer Request

Your community can request to purchase, lease or use any land or buildings that we own or lease, if you feel you could make better use of it. We develop and maintain a diverse property portfolio. In addition to our offices, we hold over 130 industrial and office buildings, approximately 350 acres of commercial development sites, and two rural land holdings.

How can my community make a request about a HIE owned asset?

You can make a request in relation to any land or building that we own or lease. It does not have to be surplus to our requirements or offered for sale. 

We welcome early enquiries and are happy to have an informal discussion. As we have an active property portfolio, where sales and leases are an ongoing occurrence, it helps us to be aware of your aspirations even if they are no more than initial ideas.
Download our guide to making an Asset Transfer Request here

For an informal discussion and more information, please contact:
Sandra Holmes
Head of Community Assets
t: 01463 383309

To make an asset transfer request, please email

What's involved?

There are a number of steps to work through and certain requirements to be met.

Firstly, applicants need to meet asset transfer eligibility requirements before a request can be considered. If you wish to own, rather than lease an asset, it is likely that you may have to amend your governing document to meet these requirements. We can explain any changes you may need to make.

In your application you will need to set out the reason for making the request, the benefits this will deliver, and the price you are prepared to pay.

We then asses your request against a range of criteria as set out in the Act. We also consider how your proposal may impact on our ability to deliver out functions and any negative impact this may have on others.

Once we have made our decision we will issue you with a decision notice. This will detail the decision and the reasons for it. If we agree the notice will include the terms and conditions on which we are agreeable to conferring the rights requested. If we refuse, you have a right to appeal.

Download our guide to making an Asset Transfer Request here 

What Asset Transfer Requests have already been made to HIE?

We publish requests we are considering and the outcome of concluded requests.

We also publish our annual reports on Asset Transfer Requests. Take a look at our 2018 and 2017 reports.