#CATJRF: Ownership of assets is tempered by the extent to which you have control…

Ballybot House is one of the earliest examples of Community Asset Transfer in Northern Ireland. It’s an old warehouse type building in the centre of Newry in an area that was once called Poor Town… the name is an anglicisation from the historic dialect of the Irish spoken in the south Armagh area of Baille Bocht…

Having an asset changes your relationship with the wider community. The responsibilities that come with it, not least in the case of Ballybot the need to meet mortgages and to provide leadership and manage the investment over a twenty year period…

It was not the first target for a consortia of community groups in the City. A lot of preliminary work was put into an initial plan to redevelop the old market place as a community asset which failed at the end of a long process. But much of that preparation built the capacity to pull off an attempt to procure and develop the current building from the private sector.

Bradley point out that the acquisition and maintenance of a physical asset also demonstrates reliability and creates confidence in future development… Lessons can be learned and implemented in later stages of the project…

In the case of Ballybot, particular skills were acquired in restoring a building with specific heritage that allowed them to create a second building, raised from scratch was specified with particular uses in mind, and build with modern materials at the same time keying in architecturally with the original building…

One take away from my interview with Bradley was ‘ownership’ is always tempered by the extent to which you also ‘control’ the asset.

In other words, if, as a community organisation, you are going to take responsibility for a building you must make sure you have full control of the assets. Rights of way, and other inherited features can alter the kinds of deal that it is wise for any community organisations should to strike.

Indeed if the parameters cannot be switched it may pay to go for a minimal rather than a maximal deal with whomever you are seeking to transfer the asset from.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty