Small cottages beside a small stream with a water mill. It's a lovely sunny day and the village looks quaint.

The Community Right To Bid is a new tool designed to help communities safeguard the property assets they value. The Localism Act (2011) introduced the ‘Community Right to Bid’, and placed a duty upon local authorities in England to maintain a list of assets of community value.

Step 2 will help you to identify assets of community value so that you can nominate them for listing, then proceed to exercise your right to bid in full.

Please note: the Community Right to Bid does not replace those other tools available to communities that are keen to own and manage property assets. Community Asset Transfer – that is transferring publicly owned assets to the community at a discount to market value – remains a standard, important and preferable route through which to secure the community ownership of assets.

Other important tools available to communities keen to take control of land and buildings in their local area include:

  • Establishing Meanwhile Use in empty properties – that is, short-term or interim use. For example, an empty shop can become a temporary art gallery, community space or enterprise centre.
  • The Community Right to Reclaim Land – where a publicly owned property asset is underused, a request can be made for that land or building to be disposed of to afford people the opportunity to acquire and transform it.
  • Compulsory Purchase for Communities – compulsory purchase powers may be used by a local authority where a voluntary or community organisation wishes to bring a privately owned property asset into community use.

How Assets of Community Value are identified

A building or other land is an asset of community value if its main use is or has recently been to “further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community” and it could do so in the future.

The Act defines assets of community value in terms of:

  • Their PURPOSE – the purpose to which they are being or have been used, rather than the nature of the asset itself – i.e. not in terms of any historical or architectural merit or location or rarity value.
  • Their LOCATION – local authorities will handle assets of community value nominations within their local area – they are expected to co-operate with the neighbouring authority if the site of an asset of community value crosses the boundary.
  • Their OWNERSHIP – all ownership, whether publicly or privately owned.

The diagram below summarises the overall definition of what constitutes an ‘asset of community value’. If you nominate an asset and it meets the definition, the local authority must list it.

Is a building or other land an asset of community value?

ACV chart

Which uses might ‘further the social well-being or social interests of the local community’?

The Localism Act notes that ‘social interests’ include ‘cultural, recreational and sporting interests’, but ‘social wellbeing’ actually applies to a much broader set of activities. So, although this is not an exhaustive list, examples of assets of community value might include:

  • Education, health and well-being or community safety – for example:
    • Nurseries and schools
    • Children’s centres
    • Health centres, surgeries and hospitals
    • Daycare centres, residential care homes NB There are exemptions in the areas of nurseries, schools, health centres, surgeries and hospitals.
  • Sports, recreation and culture – for example:
    • Woodlands, parks and open green spaces
    • Sports and leisure centres
    • Swimming pools/lidos
    • Libraries
    • Theatres
    • Museums, heritage sites
    • Cinemas
  • Community services – for example:
    • Community centres
    • Youth centres
  • Local democracy – for example:
    • Town, civic and guild halls
  • Any economic use which also provides an important local social benefit – in these cases, it is the social value of the business that counts, not just the nature of the business – this could include:
    • Village shops
    • Pubs
    • Markets

Which assets are excluded from being listed?

Some land and property is exempted from the provisions, including:

  • Land and buildings which are primarily residential in purpose, including associated gardens
  • Licensed (and some unlicensed) caravan sites
  • Operational land owned by ‘statutory undertakers’ as defined in s263 Town & Country Planning Act 1990 – which is organisations like the Post Office, Civil Aviation Authority, Transport providers, utilities.

In addition, the Act excludes:

  • The listing of assets which might have a community value in the future. Assets are deemed to be of community value only if they have community value presently or in the recent past
  • The listing of assets which are occasionally used for the social benefit of a local community, but which are not primarily used for this purpose – e.g. a space used for an annual village fete.

What next?

Once you have mapped community assets in your area, and identified those which meet the legal definition of an asset of community value, you should agree which land and buildings the community might wish to acquire in the future using the Right to Bid. You can then proceed to nominate them.

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