Community Right to Bid goes live: Let’s make a shopping list!
October 4, 2012
At a time when money’s too tight to mention for most of us, is there really much value in asking communities to list which local properties they might want to buy? Yet, this is precisely what the new Community Right to Bid encourages local communities to do. And, its value is more than you think.
New powers benefit communities now that the ‘right to bid’ provisions contained within the localism act are in force (more on all the rights on the My Community Rights website). They enable communities to nominate ‘assets of community value’ in their local area – land and buildings which provide a social benefit. The local authority is required to formally and publicly list these properties. If one of these properties subsequently comes up for sale, the local community will be able to ask for a ‘moratorium’ – a pause – of up to six months to raise the funds to bid to buy it.
The list of properties could include an eclectic range of sites – the recreation ground; the last pub in the village; the library; or, even, the local theatre.
This new community right adds another tool into the box, to complement the existing and accelerating transfer of public assets into community ownership below market value. Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive at the present time, its value is significant.
Locality is working with local authorities to develop practical approaches to implementing this new community right. In the spirit of localism, the government’s regulations for this community right are not overly prescriptive. Our own framework encourages local authorities to work with their communities in a positive and proactive way to enable a growth in community asset ownership and community enterprise to benefit people at neighbourhood level – and, to see how this new right might work alongside community asset transfer and other related tools like the community right to reclaim land.
We have been working with a small group of enthusiastic Locality members – from Barnet to Liverpool – to pilot different approaches to mapping ‘assets of community value’. There are many ways to map – from clipboard surveys on the street, to brainstorms in the pub, to online crowd-sourcing – and, it’s clear that different sections of the community attach value to different assets – whether it is young people, families or older people. Different techniques suit different organisations. Results from the mapping are being uploaded to The Place Station: we are interested to hear from other communities who are mapping assets in this way. So, if you tweet, please say hullo to @theplacestation and make extensive use of the #righttobid hash tag.
Because communities are now able to nominate as many local assets as they like, the only question is whether the community attaches some social value to a property, and whether it falls within the (relatively broad) definition within the localism act. A wide range of local community groups are able to nominate assets for inclusion on the local list, and there will no doubt be interesting debates with local authorities about this over the months to come…
The listing of a property will give it a degree of protection – it will at least give a community more time to get organised should it come up for sale. But, the true value of listing may be more subtle.
Firstly, the listing of a property as an asset of community value may well result in it becoming a ‘material consideration’ in planning terms, making a change of use away from social purposes more difficult. And, secondly, the very process of identifying and listing an asset may help to stimulate discussion about precisely which land and properties the local community cares most about. In many places, this has never been done before.
The greatest impact of this community right may not be in public lists in and of themselves, but in the very process of mapping and nominating assets. If the process raises public awareness of land and buildings communities wish to see retained for public benefit, and galvanises support for action to be taken at the local level, then there is liable to be value in the nomination itself, even if the property is not subsequently listed.
Of course, the greatest assets of community value in any area are always its people, and if they are inspired to get organised, who knows what this community right might lead to? It’s time to start making that shopping list. It’s time to organise.
To get started in using the Right to Bid – visit the My Community Rights online hub of information, inspiration and advice. And by adding land and buildings which are important to you to The Place Station – you’re helping to create potentially the greatest map of community assets.