Round 2 of the Community Ownership Fund opens

Jun 30, 2022

The Community Ownership Fund (COF) is a £150million, UK government fund that helps community groups to protect, through community ownership, assets in their local area which are at risk of being lost.

Groups can bid for up to £250k matched-funding to help take over or run an asset although in exceptional cases, up to £1m is available for sporting assets.

The UK Government published an updated prospectus for COF at the end of May with expressions of interest able to be submitted from 10th June.  There will be a window between 20th June and 19th August 2022 for full applications from those who have passed the EOI stage.

In the first round of funding there were three projects funded in Wales valued at £464,258.

Below are the main changes from the first round to be aware of:

  • There is now a two-stage application process. The EOI stage is always open. Applicants will complete a short form (should take ten to fifteen minutes) to check their eligibility and receive feedback on proposals before submitting a full application.
  • Full application forms will only be issued to applicants who pass the EOI stage
  • There will be three bidding windows per year, applications can only be submitted once they have passed the EOI stage.
  • The fund managers aim to give feedback on EOIs within three weeks
  • There is now a limit of two applications per project
  • More clarity is provided in the prospectus around the eligibility for sporting assets and public sector assets
  • The timeline for completing projects has been extended from six months to twelve months
  • 25-year leases are still preferred, however the fund will now allow assets with at least fifteen year leases and reasonable break clauses
  • The requirement for projects to have had a community use in the last 5 years has been removed however assets must still have evidence of past community use.

There are plans to offer development support in the future and the UK Government is currently procuring a provider to support prospective applicants. This is anticipated to be in place later this year.

Assessment criteria that applications will be assessed against remain unchanged.

Projects are advised not to rush their applications and submit when they are ready.  The dates for the two further rounds this financial year are yet to be confirmed.

Read the COF prospectus.