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Development Trusts NI is a regional member-led network of community development practitioners. We promote the collective ownership of public assets for public good and enterprise for sustainable development. We advocate for community rights and the role of communities in the local economy.

Community Ownership 2024 Election Update

The Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC) has issued the following holding statement on their COF website page today:

‘As you know, a new government has been formed. New ministers are extremely busy during this period and will be working through numerous decisions. We thank you for your patience and will update you on the Community Ownership Fund as soon as we can.’


Join a growing movement of community regeneration practitioners

DTNI members can gain access to a wide range of benefits.


advice from DTNI staff as well as consultancy support, covering governance, finance & CAT


Engage with and learn from other DTNI members. Free networking events and DTNI conference place.

Learning & Development

Regular briefings, publications and notification of CAT opportunities. Member rates for training & workshops.


We advocate for legislative and economic reform on behalf of the development trust movement through regular representations to government and other public bodies.

Community Asset Transfer (CAT)

Community Asset Transfer is an NI Executive policy that directs the transfer of surplus public land or buildings to community use. DTNI is the third sector partner to the Department for Communities in the delivery of this policy.

DTNI members receive regular alerts of community asset transfer opportunities. We help members and other community organisations navigate the CAT process, procuring expert advice where necessary.

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Development trusts are community owned and led organisations.

They use self-help, social enterprise and ownership of buildings and land, to bring about long-term social, economic and environmental benefits in their community.

They operate in both urban and rural areas, often in neighbourhoods which have experienced the worst economic decline. They are independent, but work with the public sector, private businesses, and with other community groups.

They are the ‘anchors’ in their communities, delivering services and facilities, finding solutions to local problems, and helping other organisations and initiatives succeed.

Local people set up development trusts to tackle local issues and to improve the quality of life in their community. As a result, development trusts become involved in a very wide range of activities – running a local shop and post office, developing play park and recreational facilities, managing a housing development, developing renewable energy projects, managing workspaces, setting up training programmes, running childcare or youth services, preserving the local heritage, restoring and conserving historic buildings – in short, anything and everything that might help build a vibrant and sustainable community.

Despite the diversity that is reflected in what they do, all development trusts are underpinned by a strong ethos of self-help and self-reliance and a belief in community regeneration through community owned enterprise and assets.
These are just some of the activities which development trusts are currently involved in:

Development Trusts NI is a model for doing business in a community led setting.

DTNI is a regional member-led network of community enterprise practitioners that promotes the collective ownership of assets for public good and enterprise for sustainable development. DTNI advocates for participative democracy and community action and empowerment.

To empower collective local intervention in the social economy space that creates more sustainable communities.

We will deliver against our mission by:

  • enabling community anchors to be present in more communities;
  • working to support legislation that cements community rights and asset transfer;
  • having members that are living and working the values of DTNI;
  • achieving higher visibility and acknowledgment for our work;
  • having an asset of our own that articulates our values.


We work for social justice through enterprise. Development trusts all over Northern Ireland are already enabling communities to make their aspirations a reality. We are committed to being a practitioner-based organisation rooted in the communities where we are present.

We believe that assets and enterprise offer flexibility and stability and generate respect.

Our vision for Northern Ireland is community empowerment through asset ownership, helping communities take control of their futures. We are committed to the generation of enterprise that allows community organisations to become sustainable.

We at DTNI envision a future where community assets are owned by and provide benefit to the community, eventually reducing demands on the public purse and developing a real and sustainable partnership with a range of service providers.

The expertise developed across the DTA networks in Scotland, England and Wales provides guidance for potential development trusts and support for existing trusts.

Cathedral Quarter Managed Workspace
109-113 Royal Avenue

Thanks for your support – now let’s start building community wealth!