The Localism Act allows local community groups to nominate land or buildings in their area which they think are of community value to be included on a list held by the city council (eg a shop, pub, community centre, social club or library faced with either closure or sale). The assets can be owned by councils or private owners.
The power to list an asset does not generally apply to properties used for residential purposes, including holiday or hotel use. There are some specific exceptions to this within the legislation, such as residential parts of pubs or where properties have not yet been built. Local authorities may not list land on their own initiative, it must be nominated. Nominations may only be accepted from qualifying community groups as defined within the Assets of Community Value (England) regulations 2012.
Nominating community groups must be one of the following:
Parish councils. This is for an asset in its own area.
Neighbouring parish councils. If the parish council borders an unparished area, then they may nominate an asset within that neighbouring local authority.
Unincorporated community groups. These must have a membership of at least 21 local people who appear on the electoral roll within the local authority area (or neighbouring area as above).
Neighbourhood forums. As defined in section 61F of the Town and Country Planning Act 2011.
Community interest groups with a local connection. These must have one or more of the following structures:
- a charity
- a community interest company
- a company limited by guarantee that is non profit distributing
- an industrial and provident society that is non-profit distributing
Nominations from community groups must contain the following information for local authorities to consider:
- A description of the nominated land including its proposed boundaries. This is best done with a site location plan with the area nominated outlined with a red line.
- Any information the nominator has about the freeholders, leaseholders and current occupants of the site.
- The reasons for nominating the assets, explaining why the nominator believes the asset meets the definition in the act.
- The nominators eligibility to make the nomination
Each nomination will be considered and assessed to decide if the land or building is of community value. If successful the asset will be included on a list that the council will hold and maintain. The asset may be found unsuitable if it does not meet the criteria of the act.
If the owner of a listed asset then wants to sell it, they must tell the council. The community will then be given a period of time to decide and prepare a bid for the asset.