Help in acquiring Assets of Community Value

Posted on the 10th September 2018

The Community Enabler Fund will support community organisations looking to acquire Assets of Community Value.

This blog was written by David Moynihan, Head of Services (South) at Locality.

Support is needed and is available

Imagine your community has successfully listed a building (or piece of land) as an Asset of Community Value with the Council. With a sale imminent, you want to make a purchase to retain it for community use.

From our work at Locality, we know that this journey can be difficult. You need to raise the necessary finance, a strategy and business plan to make it sustainable, and sometimes you’ll also need to establish a specific community organisation to manage it. Fortunately though, Locality is managing a new support programme funded by the Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The programme is directly aimed at communities who are looking to make a bid for an Asset of Community Value and supports them with dedicated Locality and partners’ expertise to support them to make this acquisition.

Assets of Community Value / Right to Bid

Assets of Community Value (ACVs) can only be nominated if they are of interest socially (such as for sport, culture or recreational uses) or increase the wellbeing of the community now and into the future.

A community group (such as a society, parish council, neighbourhood forum, not for profit organisation or a group of at least 21 individuals) that is locally connected to the area can nominate an asset to the local authority, who then decides whether to list the asset as an ACV.
The assets owner is required to announce their intention to sell, which then triggers a six month moratorium, which is intended to support a community’s Right to Bid. Introduced as part of the Localism Act 2011, there are over 5000 ACV listings (based on Locality’s review undertaken in late 2017).

The Ivy House pub (Nunhead in Southwark) was the first ACV purchase by a community, with many others following suit. However, Locality and MHCLG recognise that more awareness raising and support is needed to help communities on this journey.

Save our Spaces campaign

Launched in the summer (2018) Save our Spaces has been Locality’s campaign to prevent much-loved publicly owned buildings and spaces from being sold off for private use. As part of the campaign, Locality submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all councils in England to try and get a better sense of the problem.
They found that on average more than 4,000 publicly owned buildings and spaces in England were being sold off every year. The campaign made a call to Government, local authorities and communities themselves to help prevent important community assets being lost (see the report). As part of the campaign, which included a roadshow at several events across England, Locality sought to increase awareness of how to nominate Assets of Community Value and in how to develop a viable Right to Bid.

Community Enabler Fund details

The Community Enabler Fund is intended to provide a range of support to communities seeking to use the ‘Right to Bid’ process in order to make a viable bid for an Asset of Community Value. The support is tailored to each community and is mainly professional expertise based on their needs but could include:

• legal options advice;
• business planning,
• community engagement,
• fundraising strategy (making an informed choice to bid to purchase);
• and building a crowdfunding platform.
Delivered mainly as professional expertise (via Locality and its partners) rather than acting as a grant, the programme is running initially until end of March 2019.

Case study: DOSH (Nottingham)

The Old School hall is a former Victorian school located in Sneinton, a community close to the centre of Nottingham. It is a community which has challenges but also has an independent streak and a desire to do things for themselves.

A new group was formed called DOSH (Development of Old School Hall). The idea was to make sure to hall was preserved and brought back into community use. One of the first acts of the group was to register the Hall as an Asset of Community Value, which was accepted by the local authority. Earlier in 2018 the Council decided to put the property on the market seeking offers of around 40k.

Through Locality’s Community Enabler Fund support, the following has been achieved:

1. An introduction site meeting with Architectural Heritage Fund which resulted in a small successful prefeasibility grant
2. Access to useful Locality toolkits and templates to develop ideas which have since been developed
3. Mediation between two potential VCS partners which resulted in an agreement on a mutually agreed approach to future use of the hall
4. A pause in the moratorium so a partnership can be developed
5. Fundraising support to develop the ideas and package further

Interested in applying for support?

Are you interested in acquiring an Asset of Community Value in England and know there to be an imminent sale?

Locality are interested in speaking to you. Please contact community.assets@locality.org.uk

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