Before approaching a landowner it is worth preparing so that you can make your case effectively. Below are a few questions that Somerset Community Food and the Community Land Advisory Service have encourage people to ask themselves:
1. What reasons will you give the landowner that could convince them to support your project?
2. Why should they allow you to start?
3. What concerns are they likely to have and how can you reassure them?
4. How will your group come across - well organised with good intent?
5. What benefits can you list?
Benefits you may be able to list include:
• Improving the appearance of the land
• Reducing or taking away the need for the landowner to maintain the land
• Financial benefits
• Security and safety improvements
Communicating with landowners
Some top tips for interacting with landowners, learnt from projects in our network:
• Be professional – just have one or two people as main contacts – the landowner will want to know that the group is serious, organised and competent
• Be fair about financial considerations – offer to cover any loss of single farm payment
• Flexible – acknowledge the needs and concerns of the landowner and offer terms they can sign up to
• Be a good neighbour
• Show positive case studies from elsewhere (See examples from Somerset here).
• Ensure you are always polite and friendly, but be assertive.
• Make sure you have financial information with you.
Some groups write letters however many have benefitted from making appointments that gives them a chance to explain their ideas, focusing on the benefits. Meeting face to face is also the first step in building a relationship.
The Community Land Advisory Service have put together a template letter for groups approaching landowners & organising their first site meetings. Download it here.
Approaching public landowners
Public landowners, such as the NHS or local authorities, have their own aims and objectives and ‘corporate social responsibility’. One of the best ways to access land from these landowners is to show:
• How you will positively address their aims & objectives
• This will be a low cost way of meeting their objectives
Click here to read the Community Land Advisory Service’s top tips for approaching Local Authorities.
Once you have identified a plot and successfully communicated with a landowner, you will be ready to negotiate and get a written land agreement. Click here for more information about that process.