This week the Communities and Local Government Committee published its report from their inquiry into the Community Rights in England. I’m pleased to say the Committee backed Plunkett’s call to strengthen the Community Rights to help make it easier for communities to save their shop, pub and everything else of importance to them.
We warmly welcome the report and its recommendations, which will assist the Government in their review of the Community Rights this summer. Overall Plunkett welcomed the introduction of the Community Rights, and they have in many communities provided useful tools, particularly the Community Right to Bid and Asset of Community Value status. However there is clear evidence from communities attempting to use the powers for the purposes they were developed that they need to be strengthened.
Below are pictures of The Lord Nelson, a pub in Dunholme, Lincolnshire, that was registered as an Asset of Community Value and as you’ll see from the subsequent photo, was demolished.
The Committee’s recommendations, which Plunkett has called for, include:
Increasing the period that communities have to save Assets of Community Value from 6 months to 9 months. It was a universal call from community sector bodies including Plunkett that 6 months is not long enough.
Promote the Community Rights widely, as too many communities do not know about them, and those that do often do not have a working knowledge of how they can be used. They also call for community groups to be supported to help groups.
Remove the permitted development exemption for assets registered as Assets of Community Value which can assist with, for example, pubs being converted into supermarkets, or in some cases demolished despite being listed. Around two pubs per week are being converted to supermarkets.
Encourage councils to use the powers at their disposal to make pro-community decisions by developing a compensation fund that councils can use to de-risk their use of existing powers, like Article 4 Directions.
It has also called for a complete overhaul of the Community Right to Build, to better support community led action like Community Land Trusts, and significant changes to the Community Right to Challenge.
Linked to the issues in the report last week the Department for Communities and Local Government announced plans to introduce secondary legislation that would remove permitted development rights for pubs that are listed as Assets of Community Value. This is welcome news when this is in place. We’d like to see permitted development rights removed for all pubs, to stem the tide of pubs closures in town and country and to better support the growing wave of community groups wanting to save their local pub.