Regulations on assets of community value come into force

Out-Law News | 21 Sep 2012 | 5:11 pm | 2 min. read

Regulations have come into force allowing for local community groups to delay sales of land and properties which are listed as 'assets of community value' (ACV).

The Assets of Community Value Regulations specify detailed provisions to supplement the community rights provisions set out in the Localism Act 2011.

The Regulations provide that where an owner of an ACV has given the local authority notice of their intention to sell the listed land, a local community group may notify the local authority that they wish to bid for the land. This will delay the sale for six months, allowing the group time to compile a bid.  This is a right to bid, however, and not a right to buy.  The owner remains free to sell the land to the preferred bidder of its choice.

Bodies that will qualify as local community bodies include neighbourhood forums, parish councils, certain unincorporated bodies, charities, certain limited companies, certain industrial societies and community interest companies.

The Regulations also set out requirements for payment of compensation. A local authority must pay compensation to an owner or former owner of listed land for any loss incurred in relation to the listing of the land. The local authority will determine the amount to be paid and that determination can be challenged on appeal

The ACV regime was introduced by the Localism Act. It requires a local authority to maintain a list of buildings and other land in its area which is of community value. The policy aim behind the scheme was to assist local community groups to preserve buildings or land of importance to their community.

The scheme was introduced in response to findings by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that communities were losing amenities and buildings important to them through sales. Due to lack of awareness of such sales and the speed of the process, local communities were often unable to make alternative proposals for the use of the sites.

The focus of the Assets Scheme is to give the local community early warning of sales and to enable eligible local groups to delay sales. This is to provide time for them to put together a competitive bid to buy the asset.

The provisions for compensation set out in the Regulations are intended to minimise the impact the scheme will have on private property ownership rights.

"This will be a major area of legal challenge and objection in the coming years, not dissimilar to town and village greens during the past decade", said Marcus Bate, planning expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind "The implications for landowners and developers are significant, where their land or property is listed as an asset of community value. Land assembly and development programmes will suffer, including schemes requiring compulsory purchase. Listing decisions will be hotly contested, as will compensation decisions, and property contracts will need reconsideration, in certain cases. Another layer of planning regulation and uncertainty was the last thing that was needed."