Renfrewshire Council

Common Good property

What 'Common Good' means, Common Good in Renfrewshire, Common Good funds, consultation on the disposal of land at Bridge Street, Paisley.

What 'Common Good' means

The notion of "Common Good" has historic origins in Scotland having existed since at least the middle ages.

There is no statutory definition of Common Good, but broadly speaking the Common Good is a fund of money, or assets, that previously belonged to one of Scotland's former Burghs excluding those assets:

  •          acquired under statutory powers
  •          held for special trust purposes.

Common Good Funds can include both heritable property (land and buildings) and moveable property (civic regalia, art, cash, securities etc) and essentially any property which is administered by a Scottish Local Authority as part of the Common Good.

Common Good in Renfrewshire

In Renfrewshire, the bulk of the Paisley and Renfrew Common Good comprises land granted by the Crown (under the King Charles II Charter in 1666 and the Queen Anne Charter in 1703 respectively), grants of land and buildings, mainly in the late 19th and early 20th century, by local industrialists and other landowners for the Common Good of the inhabitants of the Burghs and the rental income and sale proceeds from such land.

It should be recognised that even where a property was acquired by, or gifted to, a former Burgh and could have Common Good status, the Burgh records may still be inconclusive and make this difficult to determine with any certainty. For example, the title to a piece of land may not specify that it was acquired for statutory purposes, or in terms of a public trust, the original disposal may not be clear that such a public trust was intended or not. Where detailed legal investigation remains inconclusive, the identification of a potential Common Good asset may require reference to case law and the courts for a final determination.

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 introduced a two tier system of local government consisting of Regional and District Councils and abolished the former Town Councils (of the Burghs) effective from 15 May 1975.

As such, a property may have common good status if, on 15 May 1975, it was:

  •          owned by the Town Council (may be in name of Magistrates, Corporation etc.);
  •          had been acquired by them either by gift, or acquisition;
  •          had not been acquired using statutory powers ; nor
  •          held by a constituted Trust .

However, it should be emphasised that this is only a starting point and more research will be required in terms of the wording of the deed, Town Council minutes etc.

There are laws governing how Common Good assets can be used and sold, although these may be altered by obtaining approval from the courts, where necessary. Proceeds from leasing or selling these assets are retained in the relevant Common Good Fund.

Common Good Funds

Renfrewshire Council acts as sole trustee for the Common Good Funds listed below which have charitable status and are registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR):

  •          SC019478 Paisley Common Good Fund
  •          SC019479 Renfrew Common Good Fund
  •          SC019480 Johnstone Common Good Fund.

The Common Good Funds are used for the benefit the inhabitants of the Burgh to which they are related.

See the current register of Common Good properties [142KB] .

Consultation on the disposal of land at Bridge Street, Paisley

In terms of the Community Empowerment Scotland (Act) 2015 Part 8, Section 104 - Renfrewshire Council is considering the disposal of land at Bridge Street, Paisley which is held by the Council as part of the common good. Notices and adverts were published on 16 March 2022 asking interested parties to make representations to the Council by the 11 May 2022, being an 8 week period.  

During this period one representation was received, summarised along with the Council's response in the related documents section on the right hand side of the web page. As this was received from an individual not representing an organisation, that individual's name has been withheld.

The disposal of the land will now be considered by the Council.