Right to bid for assets of community value
This new right means communities can ask the council to list certain assets as being of value to the community. If an asset is listed and then comes up for sale, the new right will give communities that want it six months to put together a bid to buy it. This gives communities an increased chance to save much loved shops, pubs or other local facilities.
Parish councils or local community groups can nominate both privately and publicly owned assets which meet the definition of community value. The nomination form can be found in the downloads section of this page.
A building or land in Wiltshire Council's area must be listed as an asset of community value if:
- Current primary use of the building/land or use of the building/land in the recent past furthers the social well-being or social interests (cultural, recreational, or sporting interests) of the local community
- It is realistic to think that now or in the next five years there could continue to be primary use of the building/land which will further the social well-being or social interests of the local community (whether or not in the same way as before)
Owners of listed assets cannot dispose of them without:
- Letting the local authority know that they intend to sell the asset or grant a lease of more than 25 years
- Waiting until the end of a six-week 'interim moratorium' period if the local authority does not receive a request from a community interest group to be treated as a potential bidder
- Waiting until the end of a six-month 'full moratorium' period if the local authority does receive a request from a community interest group to be treated as a potential bidder
The owner does not have to sell the asset to the community group.
There is also a 'protected period' (18 months from the time that the owner notified the local authority of their intention to dispose of the asset) - during this time there can be no further moratoriums.
Certain types of property are excluded from being listed, such as purely residential property, land licensed for use as a residential caravan site and the operational property of statutory undertakers (such as key road, canal and rail networks). Although the act notes that "social interests" includes "cultural, recreational and sporting interests" the phrase "social well-being" can apply to a much broader set of activities. Assets of community value might include any land or building where the main purpose is as below - although this is not meant as an exhaustive or definitive list.
Sport, recreation and culture
This could include:
- Parks and open green spaces
- Sports grounds
- Theatres and cinemas
- Swimming pools and lidos
This could include:
- Community centres
- Youth centres
Any economic use (e.g. a business such as a shop) which also provides an important social benefit to the local settlement. This social benefit is best demonstrated by the fact that if the asset was lost the service would not otherwise be readily available in the settlement. Alternatively, if an area is developing a neighbourhood plan and has designated an asset as 'for community use' then that might also demonstrate its value to the local community. In both cases it is the social value of the business to the local community that counts, not just the nature of the business. This could include:
- Village shops
- Village pubs
It is important to consider the current ownership of the land and other safeguards that may already be in place.
For example, if a school should close and Wiltshire Council wish to dispose of a playing field within ten years of the school's closure, consent needs to be obtained from the Secretary of State for Education. As you would expect, this is a lengthy procedure unless the field continues in playing field use (which in most cases it is likely to), likely to be longer than the delay if listed as an asset of community value and then put up for sale.
Church of England owned churches, although not excluded from listing in the legislation, will be exempt from the sale moratoria being applied under the Localism Act, as the Church has its own separate and lengthy consultation process set out in legislation for the closure and sale of its property (disposals of closed Church of England churches are covered under Part 6 of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011: the lengthy process in Part 6 of the Measure involves public consultation, and at the end of it the building will either be sold or leased for an agreed purpose, or demolished, or transferred to the Churches Conservation Trust for preservation - following which outcomes it will be possible to nominate the building if appropriate).
Property which is already in community ownership or owned by a charitable trust is also likely to be eligible for listing, depending on its use. However, charitable assets are already protected by an asset lock that limits how trustees can apply their funds, and prevent charitable funds being used for private benefit. In the event that a charity is wound up, all assets must go to a charity with similar objectives. In such cases, it may make sense to have a conversation with the charity about ideas you have for the use of their assets rather than nominate the property as an asset of community value.
If you are unsure whether the property would be eligible for listing as an asset of community value, please contact your local Area boards manager and you will be offered advice.
The community right to bid advice note provides detailed information on:
- The bodies that can make nominations (such as local parish councils and groups with a local connection)
- The steps that Wiltshire Council has to take when considering to list land as an asset of community value and upon listing that land (such as notifying relevant parties and consulting the parish council)
- Arrangements for owners to make appeals on decisions to list or award compensation on any losses incurred as a result of being listed (including internal reviews and external tribunals)
- Exemptions to the 6 month moratorium being applied when land is put up for sale or long term lease (which includes sales for continuing education and health use, for example).
A decision will be made within 8 weeks of the receipt of nomination on whether to list the asset. The asset will then be placed on a list of 'assets of community value - list of assets nominated - successful and unsuccessful' which is available in the downloads section of this page.
If possible, you should have an informal discussion with the landowners prior to nominating, as they are best placed to advise you of any plans for their property. If you are unsure whether the property would be eligible for listing as an asset of community value, please contact your local area board manager and you will be offered advice. Following this, you should complete a nomination form for listing an asset as being of community value and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A summary of the community ownership of assets toolkit outlines other options which may be suitable for enabling community ownership of assets.
Where an asset is council owned, community groups may like to consider a community asset transfer, rather than waiting for the asset to be put up for sale. The community ownership of assets toolkit (below) also outlines other tools which may be more appropriate.
Community Operation Boards are overseeing the development of community campuses and the rationalisation of the public sector estate in each community area. They are a good place to start to understand any future plans for public sector property in your area.
Support on the use of the Community Right to Bid and Community Asset Transfer is available from MyCommunity.org.uk.
Neighbourhood Plans can formally allocate assets for community use in a site allocation proposals map, if there is good evidence to support the case (including sites which may not meet the definition of an asset of community value above). This would give the site additional weight in decision making and could inform, and be informed by, the lists of nominated assets.
Wiltshire's Local Plan seeks to promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities in villages, such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship. Wiltshire Council takes into account the importance of these facilities to the local community when considering planning applications.