Leafair site in heart of community

Surveyors have been tasked to assess the worth of Leafair pitch complex as Derry City Council considers handing over long-term control to the community.

The assets involved in the pioneering move include the grass pitch, 3G pitch, car park, pavillion and play park at the Leafair site.

The whole site is currently operated under a short term, one-year lease to Leafair Sport and Recreation Community Interest Company.

The move would see the lease lengthened to 20-years or the wholesale transfer into community ownership.

The move forms part of a new Community Asset Transfer framework in the North , which aims to fulfil a government commitment to invest in social enterprises to help make the community sector more sustainable.

The Asset Transfer project involves a change in management or ownership of land and buildings from public bodies to communities.

A council officer told the July meeting of the Development Committee in the Guildhall this week that the Leafair project had been selected as a test pilot for asset transfer.

A report brought before the committee states: “In order to test the policy the Department of Social Development has appointed Development Trusts NI to work with a number of demonstration projects throughout Northern Ireland. Leafair Sport and Recreation C.I.C have been chosen as one of these projects.”

The committee was told that in order to look at the various options in relation to the Leafair assets, the Council requires a valuation from Land and Property Services.

This will include a valuation on the basis of full transfer and a valuation based on a long term lease of 20 years.

The report states: “The move towards a more structured form of asset transfer offers substantial potential to build community capacity along with the demonstrable financial stability through asset value required to draw down external funding, access banking services and ultimately strengthen community organisation balance sheets.”

The transfer proposal is due to come before council once the valuation is completed by Land and Property Services.