Extension of community right to buy (on first refusal) to all land in Scotland
At the moment the community right to buy only applies to areas with a population of 10,000 or less. If the Bill is enacted, that restriction will be removed - so that the right to buy will apply to the whole of Scotland.
Creation of a community right to require a forced sale of neglected or abandoned land
The second change is a new right relative to land that is abandoned or otherwise neglected by its owner. If the owner does not want to sell, then the existing community right to buy cannot be triggered, as the current right is actually a right of first refusal that only arises if the owner wants to sell.
This new right will allow a community, in certain circumstances, to force the owner to sell the land to them.
Common good land registers and consultation before disposal or change of use
Thirdly, the Bill makes some changes to the law on common good land held by local authorities.
Authorities will be required to maintain a register that identifies all common good land in their area.
Also, if an authority wants to dispose of any of its common good land or to change its use, it will first have to consult with the local community and to take account of any comments made by the consultees.
Local authorities can create their own business rates relief schemes
Finally, the Bill will allow local authorities to create their own business rates relief schemes. These would be specific to non domestic property in their area.
Before they create any such scheme however, local authorities will be required to consult with council tax payers, because any loss of income resulting from the relief scheme will have to be offset by other income raised by the authority, which will clearly include the council tax payers.
Stage 1 of the Bill (i.e. the Committee Stage) is scheduled to be completed on 6th February 2015.