Community Right to Bid

The Community Right to Bid, introduced as part of the Localism Act, enables local groups to nominate local land or buildings that provide an important service in the local community to be included in the List of Assets of Community Value held by the Council. If an asset on the List of Assets of Community Value comes up for sale, community groups will have up to six months to raise the capital and bid to buy the asset, before it can be disposed of on the open market. More information on other Community Rights

What is the Community Right to Bid?

The Community Right to Bid means that Community groups or Parish or Town Council’s can nominate both privately and publicly owned assets to be added to the List of Assets of Community Value held by the Council, if the asset meets the criteria for assets of community value. A building or land in the local planning authority’s area will be listed as an asset of community value if in the opinion of the local authority:

  • Its current primary use of the building or land or the use of the building or land in the recent past furthers or had furthered the social wellbeing or social interest of the local community.
  • It is realistic to think now or in the next five years the primary use of the building or land could be to further social wellbeing or social interests of the local community whether or not in the same way.

If the asset is listed as an asset of community value and comes up for sale, community groups will have six months to prepare a bid to acquire the asset. 

Who can bid?

  • A local voluntary or community group that is not incorporated that has at least 21 members and who are currently registered to vote in the local authority area
  • A parish or town council
  • A neighbouring parish council that shares a boundary or boundaries with another parish or an unparished local authority
  • A neighbourhood forum designated for planning purposes under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • A company or industrial or provident society which does not distribute its surplus to its members
  • A community interest group.

A local community group must be able to demonstrate that its activities are wholly or partial concerned with the local authority area. The local voluntary or community group must be primarily a not for profit organisation, any profit must be wholly or partially for the benefit of the local authority area.

What assets can be nominated?

To be included on the list the asset:

  • must be either be within the boundary of the local planning authority or partially within its boundary. 
  • the asset must be land or property or both
  • must be being used for or partially used for community purposes and has a realistic prospect of continuing or five years
  • or for education, health and well being or community safety
  • or must have had such use in the recent past within five years
  • the land may be owned by the local authority or privately
  • the owner of the asset to be nominated must be known

Examples: a local shop, a community centre, a pub, a library, a playground, a park, a swimming pool, a market, a nursery or school.

Assets that will not be listed:

  • buildings and land purely used for residential purposes
  • land for which a site licence is required under Part 1 of the Caravan Sites Control of Development Act 1960
  • boats
  • buildings or land normally or partly used as a residence which may be wholly or partly temporarily unoccupied
  • holiday homes or lets
  • a hotel or hostel wholly or partly used for paying occupants
  • House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
  • operational land as defined by Part 11 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for example highways or railways

What is meant by recent past?

The primary use of the land or building must in the previous five years been for community or social wellbeing purposes. Also that it is realistic to think if the asset came up for sale in the next five years there would be a viable community use.

What is meant by social wellbeing and interests?

This includes land or buildings that are currently, or have been or will  be used for primarily cultural, recreational or sporting interests. Additionally there must:

  • be broad and inclusive use of the asset across the whole community or
  • be used  by a section of the community that would not otherwise be provided for or there is under-provision in the local community
  • any proposed usage if different from the current use, must comply with planning regulations in force at the time.

How to make a nomination

You can nominate an asset to be included in the List of Assets of Community Value held by the Council by completing a Nomination form and submitting it to the Head of Community Wellbeing.

The nomination must include:

  • the name and address of the asset
  • the current function of the asset
  • the name and contact details of the occupier or land owner
  • the names and current last known addresses of all those holding a freehold or leasehold in the premises
  • a description of the land area/site covered by the nomination including but not limited to all outbuildings, parking, gardens, or green areas
  • an up to date plan showing the land area/site covered by the nomination including but not limited to all outbuildings, parking, gardens or green areas
  • a description of how the community asset is being run, or has been in the recent past, and how it will be in the future to boost social wellbeing and interests of the local community
  • You must explain how the asset will be remain viable for the future
  • You must explain which sections of the community will benefit from the community use is targeted at any specific group
  • The name and address of the community or voluntary group, neighbourhood forum or parish or town council making the nomination
  • Name and address of the person progressing the nomination on behalf of the group
  • Evidence of status of the group i.e charity number, company number
  • If unincorporated names and addresses of 21 members who are locally registered to vote, this information will be checked for accuracy.

This information will be made known to the owner of the asset should the decision be made to include on the list of community assets and they wish to appeal the decision.

What happens after a nomination has been submitted?

A decision to include the land or building will be made within eight weeks of the nomination. The Council maintains two lists: one listing all land or building nominations that have been accepted and one with reasons why a nomination was rejected.

Owners of the listed assets cannot dispose of them without:

  • Letting the local authority know they intend to sell or grant a lease for over 25 years.
  • Waiting until the end of the interim six week moratorium period if the local authority does not receive a request from a community interest group to be treated as a potential bidder.
  • Waiting until the end of the six month full moratorium period if a community group requests that they be treated as a potential bidder.

The owner is under no obligation to sell the listed asset to the community group. There is a protected period of 18 months from the time the owner notified the local authority of their intention to sell were no further moratorium can be imposed.

Other considerations

  • If a building or land is listed as an asset of community value this may be a material consideration (in planning applications) if the owner applies for a change of use.
  • Neighbourhood plans can allocate assets for community use in site allocation proposal plans. If there is good evidence to support the case (which may include sites that do not meet the criteria for assets of community value) this may give additional weight to any decision and could inform and be informed by the list of nominated community assets.
  • The Local Plan aims to promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities which will be taken into account when assessing planning applications.
  • If the local authority owns the building or land the community groups may wish to consider Community Asset Transfer

List of Assets of Community Value

Harlow Council maintains two lists: one listing all land or building nominations that have been accepted and one with reasons why a nomination was rejected.

How do I find out more?

Further details about the Communities Right to Bid are available from the Government’s My Community Website.

You can contact the Head of Community Wellbeing at the Council for more information.

Head of Community Wellbeing
Civic Centre
The Water Gardens
Harlow
Essex
CM20 1WG

or email: contact@harlow.gov.uk