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Community right to bid

The Localism Act gives local communities the chance to nominate, for inclusion on a formal register, assets that are of value to the local community (assets of community value). Communities also have the right to bid to purchase registered assets of community value if they come up for sale.

Assets of community value

An asset is a physical building or land and can be privately owned – it does not have to belong to the council or a public sector organisation. Examples of assets that would be eligible are:

  • community centres
  • libraries
  • leisure centres
  • the last public house / shop in an area
  • post offices
  • theatres
  • museums

For an asset to be eligible, either

a) its current main use must further the social interests or social wellbeing of the local community, and it must be realistic to think that such a use can continue,

or

b) a use in the recent past must have furthered the social interest or social wellbeing of the local community, and it must be realistic to think it could be brought back into such use within the next five years.

Organisations that are eligible to nominate must have a local connection and be:

a) a town or parish council
b) a local neighbourhood planning forum under the Town and Country Planning Act
c) an unincorporated community group whose members include at least 21 individuals registered to vote in the local authority’s area
d) a charity
e) a company limited by guarantee or industrial provident society that does not distribute any profit to its members
f) a community interest company

The council is not able to self-nominate assets.

Only organisations listed under d – f above may trigger the six month moratorium period (see below), although a town or parish council may also trigger the moratorium if the asset is in the parish council’s area.

If the owner of a listed asset decides to sell, they must notify the council. We will then notify whoever nominated the asset and publicise the fact on our website. At this stage interested community groups have a six week period to inform us that they intend to submit a bid. If notice is not received within this period then the landowner is free to dispose on the open market. If notice is received then the full moratorium period begins. This period is six months from the date the landowner informed the council of their intention to sell. Within this period the landowner can only dispose of the asset to an eligible community or voluntary organisation.

No definition for social wellbeing has been laid down by the Localism Act or Regulations. It is up to the nominator to make a case for meeting the eligibility criteria.

The moratorium process

Receiving notification of a proposed disposal of a registered asset. triggers the start of the moratorium period and the relevant end dates (interim full and protected periods). The applicant is notified and the relevant dates are confirmed with all parties.

If we don’t receive further community interest in six weeks, the owner is notified that they can proceed.

If we receive an expression of interest from a community group in the area, we will forward this to the owners and notify all parties that the full moratorium has commenced. We will also notify all parties of the end dates of the full moratorium (six months) and the protected period.

At the end of the moratorium we will, if necessary, ask whether agreement has been reached and will amend the list accordingly.

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