Community Ownership and Management of Assets (COMA)


Southbourne Parish Council is the well deserving Council of the Week for amongst other things being the first parish council in England to be accepted onto the Locality/Department of Communities and Local Govern­ment Community Ownership and Management of Assets (COMA) programme in 2015/16.

Southbourne is the most westerly of the parishes in West Sussex, comprised of three settle­ment areas on the shores of Chichester Harbour, in the shadow of the South Downs.  Best estimates are that the population of Southbourne is greater than 6,500. Southbourne is located on the A259 about midway between Portsmouth and Chichester, in Sussex. The parish council's precept for 2015/16 is £102,018. Southbourne Parish Council is by national standards a smaller parish council with big ambitions for its area.

The parish council is leading the Southbourne Partnership Area in Sussex as part of the Community Owner­ship and Management of Assets (COMA). The programme is designed to attract Partnership Areas comprised of local government and other public sector agencies wanting to establish a road-map for future complex or multiple asset transfers in the Partnership Areas.

A significant aim of the Southbourne COMA application is to commence the work to establish the green ring, which is a biodiverse community amenity space and to provide new safe walkways for residents avoiding two recognised dangerous footpaths both crossing a level crossing and one being close to a school.

The green ring will also act as mitigation against the inevitable potential for human disturbance to the pro­tected habitats of the nearby Chichester Harbour Conservation Area caused by the construction of 300 new homes in the village. Further to a recent NALC recommendation to approve the application, the Locality grant panel was delighted to approve the parish council application to the COMA programme, thereby mak­ing Southbourne one of the few parish council-led areas so far to be accepted onto COMA. Other parished areas have followed suit and are now applying to the programme.

Though there have been no completed asset transfers yet by the parish council, the council is playing a lead­ing role in attempting to move forward with the asset transfer process with a (COMA) pre-feasibility grant, triggered as a result of a Neighbourhood Plan. The council has also played a leading role in developing and delivering a Neighbourhood Plan for Southbourne (submission documents are available elsewhere on this website).



I'm sure all the members of the Neighbourhood Plan team would like to join me in thanking Bill Ferguson for putting together this COMA grant application in just 7 days. He has been on several Focus Groups during the compilation of the Southbourne Neighbourhood Plan, including the Environment group, and he was the only person who volunteered to try to complete this application by the closing date of 25th May. It is really pleasing that his efforts have been successful and recognised, and that Southbourne village will benefit.