Assets of Community Value


Introduction

In 2011 the Government introduced legislation aimed at empowering the citizen with a simple means of formally identifying assets of importance to their community and to places a marker upon them which would mean that in the event of the owner wishing to sell that asset, the community would be allowed the opportunity to make a bid to buy the asset.

This special status asset is known as an "Asset of Community Value", often shortened to "ACV" and the ability to make a bid for an asset is known as the "Community Right to Bid". The Localism Act 2011 requires the local authority to maintain a Register of Assets of Community Value.
 
Until May 2017, public houses were covered by what are known as "Permitted Development Rights". These allowed certain changes of use for pub buildings without the requirement for planning permission. Such changes of use outside the local authority planning regime denied the local community the opportunity to have its say over the closure of pub to become, say, a small supermarket.

However, once registered as an Asset of Community Value, the special status enjoyed by assets on the Register over-rode the "Permitted Development Rights" and placed the asset within the modest protctive blanket of the local planning regime. This did not mean that changes of use were not possible but simply that those who whish to undertake them would require planning permission to do so.

At a national level, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) saw an opportunity to use Asset of Community Value registration as a means of giving local people the opportunity to give:

i)  pubs some protection by means of inclusion in within the local planning environment;
ii) local people the opportunity to have their say as to the future of a valued community asset;
iii) local community groups the opportunity to make a bid on a such a pub to retain it as a community owned asset.  

In response to an increasing number of local pub closures, the Nottingham Branch of CAMRA decided in Autumn 2015 to formalise its approach towards the protection of pubs within its Branch Area by means of Asset of Community Value registrations.

In May 2017, the Government removed "Permitted Development Rights" from public houses and placed them within local authority planning control. Whilst this has removed the need to use Asset of Community Value regstration solely to protect a pub from "Permitted Development" changes of use, the Asset of Community Value still has an important role for those who wish to protect their local pub.

Asset of Community Value Registration for a pub still:

a) gives the local community the opportunity to bid for an ACV pub should it come up for sale;
b) acts as a reminder to Councils, planners and pub owners that the pub is a valued local community asset;
c) may act as a material planning consideration.


Discretionary Behaviour in the Provision of a Statutory Obligation

There is no doubting the generosity of spirit in which the Community Right to Bid was intended.

It is clear to those who wish to use its provisions to protect Community Assets, whatever those assets may be, that Parliament sought to empower small groups of ordinary people with the realistic prospect of protecting the widest possible range of potential assets in a simple and largely cost-free way. 

At the same time the legislation sought to limit the burden on the owner of a Community Asset until such time as the owner sought to sell that asset.

The simplicity of the tests required to achieve Asset of Community Value status and the wide range of possible interpretations for key phrases such as "community" , "social wellbeing" and "social interests" and the lack of rigorous definitions would seem to support this view.  

At the same time, the legislation put the burden of administration onto those local authorities with a statutory obligation to manage the scheme at a local level.

The vagueness of the provisions of the Act and the Regulations in defining how local authorities were to interpret the legislation has unfortunately led to something of a post code lottery in the provision of this statutory obligation as each authority moulds what it has been given in its own image.

Where operated by largely sympathetic local authorities, the Community Right to Bid has given the citizen the kind of empowerment intended by Parliament. However, it is equally clear that the loose drafting of the right to bid has been used by other local authorities to deny citizens access to those very same rights.

Those working to use the legislation to protect public houses England will aware that some Councils have, for whatever reason, sought to place the Registration of Assets of Community Value beyond the reach of the lay citizen. Whether for political or administrative purposes, some seem to have sought to create tests designed to exclude all but a small number of "special pubs", or conversely consider only those at imminent risk of closure. Other have sought to exclude certain citizen groups as being ineligible nominators. 

Much as the citizen knows that double yellow lines on a road in Penzance have essentially the same meaning as those in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a similar level of consistency in the application of the Community Right to Bid is required across England if the public are to enjoy a broadly similar ability to protect their pub.

The Nottingham Branch of CAMRA urges the Government to review the Act and the Regulations with a view to achieving a greater consistency in the delivery of the provisions of the Community Right to Bid.

At the time of writing it would seem that there is far too much discretionary behaviour in the delivery of a statutory obligation.


Branch Register of Assets of Community Value

The Nottingham Branch of CAMRA maintains a Branch Register of Assets of Community Value (ACV). Click the image to open the document:



This register shows all local pub ACVs the Nottingham branch of CAMRA was aware of at the time the register was compiled. This shows ACVs nominated by the Branch and by other eligible groups and organisations, including Parish Councils.

The register also shows which of the 6 local authorities which operate within the Nottingham Branch Area are responsible for the ACV Registration.


Local Authority Registers of Assets of Community Value


The Localism Act 2011 requires each relevant Local authority to maintain a Register of Assets of Community Value. Similarly, a Register of Unsuccessful Nomiations is also required. Each of the 6 Local Authorities operating within the Branch Area make these available via the internet.
 
Nottingham Branch Area Local Authority ACV Registers
Item Local Authority Link
1 Ashfield District Council http://www.ashfield.gov.uk/residents/planning-and-building-control/local-land-charges-service/assets-of-community-value-right-to-bid/
2 Broxtowe Borough Council https://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11679
3 Gedling Borough Council http://www.gedling.gov.uk/community/communityrighttobid/
4 Newark & Sherwood District Council http://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/planningpolicy/assetsofcommunityvalue/
5 Nottingham City Council  https://nottinghamcity.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning-policy/assets-of-community-value/
6 Rushcliffe Borough Council http://www.rushcliffe.gov.uk/community/assetsofcommunityvalue/

Unfortunately, the Localism Act does not oblige our Local Authorities to present information in the Statutory Registers in a standard manner and the user may notice some considerable variation between them and the way they are presented. 


The Law

Any community group interested in protecting a local community asset will make its task easier by understanding as much of the legal framework as possible. Whilst this can be quite dry reading, it is useful to have access to the various documents the Government has produced and so they have been brought together to give the ACV nominator a legal tool kit.

Asset of Community Value Policy Statement - September 2011

This policy statement from the Department for Communities and Local Government sought to address some of the issues raised during consideration of provisions at Lords Committee stage of the Localism Bill. It sets out the then Government's way forward on the issues following the consultation on the Community Right to Buy - assets of community value which had ended on 3 May 2011. It helps to give some context to the provisions laid out in the final legislation enacted by Parliament. Click the image to open the document









Localism Act 2011 ("The Act")

The legislation which defines the rights of the citizen and community groups with regard to Assets of Community Value and the Community Right to Bid is the Localism Act 2011. The relevant elements are found in Part 5, Chapter 3 in Section 87 to Section 108 on pages 91 to 102. Click the image to open the document:











The Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012 ("The Regulations")

This was further clarified by Statutory Instrument 2012 No. 2421, The Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012. Click the image to open the document: 
















 

Community Right to Bid: - Non-Statutory Advice Note for Local Authorities - October 2012

Following the issue of the Regulations in September 2012, the Government issued a non-statutory advice note for local authorities. This is well worth reading because it is addressed to those organisations which decide whether or not a given asset will be registered. The more the would be pub nominator understands the basic process the better armed they will be for the inevitable hiccoughs along the way. Click the image to open the document:









The View of Government & Parliament

Other than passing the Act and the Regulations, the Government and Parliament have given their views on public houses as Assets of Communtiy Value in two additional documents which those wishing to nominate pubs for ACV status will find helpful.

Written Statement to Parliament - 26th January 2015

On the 26th January 2015 the then Pubs Minister, Kris Hopkins, made a Written Statement to Parliament. Well worth a read because it gives the then Government's view of pubs and how the public should seek to protect those they value. It also announced the removal of permitted development rights for public houses which were registered as Assets of Community Value. This represented a tremendous leap forward for the citizen's ability to protect a local pub because it ensured that the pub would be wrapped in the modest protective blanket of the local authority's planning regime. It was this Written Statement which kick started CAMRA's national Asset of Community Value programme which started in 2015. Click the image to open the document:



 





Assets of Community Value - House of Commons Library - Briefing Paper - 06366 - 26th April 2017

On the 26th April 2017, the House of Commons Library issued a briefing paper entitled "Assets of Community Value". This very helpful document has 3 main areas of interest which help show the kind of guidance your MP has received:

(i) How the Community Right to Bid works;
(ii) Constituency issues MPs ought ot be aware of and
(iii) Additional community land and asset schemes, such as the "Community Right to Reclaim Land" and "Community Asset Transfer" but which are not part of the Community Right to Bid.  Click the image to open the document:




Basic Requirements


In order to help those interested in nominating their local pub for an ACV registration, there are a number of basic requirements or tests which will need to be satisfied and those are explained below:

21 Local Electors 

One of the Basic Requirements is that any unincorporated nominating group of individuals should consist of at least 21 local electors. An elector is considered "local" if they are on the electoral roll in the local authority area in which the asset or pub is located. For those considering forming an unincorporated group to nominate a pub for ACV Registration in the Nottingham Branch Area need to be mindful that depending upon where the pub is located will determine which local authority electors are acceptable as part of a nominating group. The table below uses the bondaries of local authority maps to confirm which local authorities neighbour which others in the Branch Area, with the neighbours rotating clockwise around the given authority from a "12 o'clock North" position.
 
Local Electors in the Nottingham Branch Area
Item Pub / Asset in: Electors in the Registering Local Authority plus those in Neighbouring Local Authorities:
1 Ashfield DC Ashfield DC: plus Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood DC, Gedling BC, Nottingham CC, Broxtowe BC, Amber Valley and Bolsover
2 Broxtowe BC Broxtowe BC: plus Ashfield DC, Nottingham City, Rushcliffe BC, Erewash, Amber Valley.
3 Gedling BC Gedling BC: plus Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood DC, Ruchcliffe BC, Nottingham CC, Ashfield DC
4 Newark & Sherwood DC Newark & Sherwood DC: plus Bassetlaw, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Kesteven, Melton BC, Rushcliffe BC, Gedling BC, Ashfield DC and Mansfield.
5 Nottingham City Nottingham City: plus Gedling BC, Rushcliffe BC, Broxtowe BC and Ashfield DC
6 Rushcliffe BC Rushcliffe BC: plus Newark & Sherwood DC, Melton BC, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Erewash, Broxtowe BC and Nottingham City




 

 

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