Plunkett Policy Perspectives January 2015

Plunkett works with groups of organisations including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), Supporters Direct, Civic Voice and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) to raise awareness and understanding of the community rights. My colleague Tom Carman has written a post about the work of the Localism Alliance which I wanted to share.

 

Since 2011, groups of local people have been able to register ‘assets’ important to them as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ or ACV.  Doing this allows for the pause of sale of buildings or land important to communities, giving 6 months for a community to develop a bid to buy that asset. Since the launch of Assets of Community Value there have been over 1,800 ACV nominations in England, including over 550 pubs and various other assets including village shops and car parks.

Plunkett, along with other members of the Localism Alliance, are making 5 calls to action to improve ACV legislation. When working with communities attempting to save assets important to them, the Localism Alliance has come across the following issues that need to be considered.

1. Despite many pubs being registered as ACVs, communities often end up with supermarkets, as pubs are in the same asset classification as supermarkets, offices and restaurants. Also, in some cases, pubs listed as ACVs have been demolished.  We are calling for permitted development rights to be removed for assets that are registered as ACVs.
2. Asset owners can find it difficult to see the benefits of registration, and nomination of assets can sometimes cause friction between asset owners and their communities. We are therefore recommending that assets registered as ACVs benefit from a business rate reduction to reflect the importance of the asset to the local community.
3. The protected period of six months has proved too short a time period for many communities, particularly where raising significant capital is needed. We are calling for the moratorium period under the Right to Bid to be extended from six to ten months, as ten months is the average time it takes to complete a community pub buyout.
4. Some local authorities need to do more to protect assets listed as ACVs when considering planning applications. We recommend that guidance is issued to local authorities on ACV nominations being a material consideration in planning applications and also for local authorities to use existing powers they have, for example issuing an Article 4 Direction that can remove permitted development rights.
5. Applicants who are turned down for listing cannot appeal the situation, but asset owners can appeal their asset being listed. We are calling for a right to appeal for communities to be introduced.

We think that these five actions would help increase the use of ACV, make the ACV process more robust and help more rural people take on and manage their local shops and pubs – do you agree? If you have any stories you would like to share about making an ACV nomination or comments about the Localism Alliance’s calls to action, we would be really interested to hear from you. Please get in touch with Tom Carman at tom.carman@plunkett.co.uk

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