Community Asset Transfer Success for Brownlow Ltd

They say perseverance is the mother of success, well after a 32-year occupancy on the site at Moyraverty West Road Craigavon, local enterprise organisation Brownlow Ltd have been successful in a community asset transfer.

Brownlow Limited is a successful community owned and managed social enterprise established in 1989 to spearhead the economic and community regeneration of the Brownlow area of Craigavon. They began leasing the land in 1991 and worked hard over many years to invest in assets and infrastructure on the site which was undeveloped at the commencement of the original lease. This resulted in the creation of the Bluestone Business Parks which today have a combined turnover of circa £22 million!

With the end of its lease period approaching, Brownlow Ltd applied to the Department for Communities to request the site be transferred to them under the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) initiative.

Our expert team at DTNI worked with Brownlow to prepare a business case for the CAT that outlined the proposed new usage and benefits to the community and following a 2-year process the site ownership was transferred over to the organisation. DTNI hope that this example can help provide a roadmap for other groups to secure assets for community benefit.

Speaking about the transfer, Adrian Ballentine, Chief Executive of Brownlow commented on the growth and economic benefit of the organisation to the area since it’s inception.

“Brownlow Limited have efficiently developed over an expanded timeframe, all lands under lease, and put in place a range of workspace units and specialist facilities and essential services that allow us to facilitate and encourage the efforts of entrepreneurs to develop their commercial operations. By doing so, we are encouraging and providing local employment and training opportunities, as well as wealth investment and creation.”

Brownlow Limited wants the businesses that we have supported to continue to grow and we actually want commercial projects that we have supported to outgrow us. As an economic regeneration company, we want to continue to grow and to build on the existing foundations and platform that we have established to date.

Our work of supporting the local development of an enterprise culture – via among other things information, advice/mentoring, signposting, networking and access to quality infrastructure, the results of which can be seen within our Business Parks, demonstrates the potential and success of local people taking an active role in the development of their local economy.

As a part of its long-term ongoing work Brownlow Limited, have indicated that, despite challenging circumstances, the combined financial turnover of all businesses in the Bluestone Business Parks represents a very impressive economic indicator of the total value of goods and services generated and supplied, as well as wealth created, as a result of the work and efforts and of Brownlow Limited and all its clients in this part of the Borough.

We have nurtured and grown many diverse commercial projects, across all business sectors; demonstrating the tremendous value for money and financial dividend to the wider local economy. On behalf of the local area, we would thank the Department for its ‘can do’ attitude and vision. We also look forward to further fruitful collaboration in the future.”

Adrian Ballentine also indicated that the transfer of this land, where Bluestone 2 is located, is an acknowledgement that Brownlow Limited’s work yields large economic benefits to the economy through developing ‘entrepreneurial talents and building businesses. “This transfer will encourage further positive interventions to effect constructive progress”.

Dian Heaney MBE, Brownlow Ltd Chairperson, stated that “On behalf of the Board and all members of Brownlow Limited, we would like to express our gratitude to the previous Minister, Deirdre Hargey, MLA and the Department for Communities for their support, encouragement and recognition, of our continuing endeavours to improve the economic and community well-being of the Brownlow area, through the transfer of this parcel of land.’

Gerard Murray, DfC Director of Regional Development:

”Community Asset Transfer is an important tool for creating opportunities to build community wealth. It gives ownership of a site to those who know an area – understanding its needs and aspirations.

“Brownlow Ltd has a strong track record of promoting and assisting local entrepreneurs through its Bluestone Business Park facilities and local activities. I welcome the opportunity that CAT offers to help them build on that success and, through Brownlow’s stewardship, look forward to seeing it continue to thrive in the future.”

CAT is an Executive policy developed in 2014 to provide a framework to facilitate community ownership of public sector assets, and responsibility for the policy lies with the Department for Communities as a core element of its Community Wealth Building agenda.

Press release:

More info on the CAT