How to… encourage community management of coastal areas

Colourful Portree harbour buildings, Isle of Skye, ScotlandThe Crown Estate is responsible for the management of much of the UK’s coastline. In recent years it has taken steps to allow the local community to play a more active role through the introduction of local management agreements.

The responsibility of managing the seabed, and much of the foreshore, around the UK lies with The Crown Estate. It issues licences or leases for aquaculture sites (which provide more than 6,000 jobs in Scotland alone) and sites for moorings, marinas and coastal development projects. It also owns three marinas. The Crown Estate provides active support, including capital, to help the established businesses that currently operate across the portfolio.

The Crown Estate is also one of the country’s largest rural landowners, managing around 144,000 hectares of agricultural land and forests, together with minerals and residential and commercial property.

Increasingly, The Crown Estate has worked to not only be good stewards of its rural and coastal portfolio but also to acknowledge the determination of local people to have an active voice in developments within their communities and how they are managed.

Feedback from stakeholders prompted The Crown Estate to create a formal mechanism to allow coastal communities a more direct role while still recognising the organisation’s statutory roles and responsibilities. The result of this process was the creation of Local Management Agreements (LMAs) as a mechanism for The Crown Estate to work with local organisations and communities for mutual benefit.

What is a Local Management Agreement?
An LMA is a formal agreement between The Crown Estate and a local partner which enables them to manage part of the coastal portfolio. If the applicant can demonstrate their proposal can become a reality, the LMA gives applicants certainty that they can obtain a right to manage The Crown Estate’s land.

An LMA business proposition will need to be commercially viable, but also achieve one or more of the following:

  • Bring benefit to local communities;
  • Allow community groups to enjoy improved facilities;
  • Aid the economic development of the locality, or;
  • Protect the natural habitat and wildlife.

The first two LMAs were put in place earlier this year, with community groups in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland (on Skye and North Uist). They demonstrate the way forward for The Crown Estate to support communities in their ambitions to effectively manage coastal and rural facilities.

These first agreements signal a step forward for plans for new marine leisure developments at Lochmaddy on North Uist and at Portree on Skye (pictured) to encourage sustainable tourism and strengthen local economies. Portree Area Community Trust is working with the local moorings association to develop a new breakwater, extend and refurbish the pier, build a new RNLI boathouse and install pontoons and berthing facilities. The LMAs mean that community project teams will now be able to develop full business proposals and progress fundraising, backed by the experienced team at The Crown Estate.

The Crown Estate envisages that more LMAs will be signed across the UK including projects such as improving harbour facilities, creating local amenities, improving local management of moorings, giving opportunities to create or expand local business interests or managing nature conservation areas. Provided the criteria are met, The Crown Estate will consider any application and several are already under consideration.

The agreements are limited to not-for-profit organisations. These include: local authorities and harbour trusts; local community councils; local community development trusts; mooring associations; NGOs with a habitat management remit, statutory nature conservation bodies and other appropriately constituted community bodies or trusts.

All applications to set up an LMA will be evaluated against set criteria. Among the factors to consider will be:

  • Benefits to the local community
  • Benefits to the local environment
  • The extent of community engagement and support evidenced
  • The availability of funding to undertake proposals
  • The skills and experience of the applicant organisation and its consultants

LMAs are just one of the ways in which The Crown Estate enables and encourages tenants and communities to manage land and foreshore across the rural and coastal estates. They are set to become a crucial part of The Crown Estate’s approach to rural and coastal management.

It is important to The Crown Estate to work closely with local interests, recognising how vital it is to support often isolated communities with the means to ensure their economic survival. The Crown Estate’s advice for groups is to make an early approach, have a concise idea of what is planned and level of support for it, and to know what the development should achieve.

Community Toolkit

The Crown Estate anticipates that it will increase community engagement, building on the successful partnerships  it has developed. To support this, a Crown Estate toolkit has been produced that provides businesses, customers and other community interests with ideas for how they and The Crown Estate can work together at a local level. The toolkit is available by contacting

Considering an LMA?

The Crown Estate is keen to hear from not-for-profit organisations who may be interested in a Local Management Agreement. For an information brochure visit or email  The Crown Estate encourages anyone thinking to set up an LMA to first contact it to discuss proposals, before making a formal application.



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