The Localism Act has created the Asset of Community Value.
Amazingly central government has finally realised that too many communities are losing too many of their local amenities. A village with no shop, pub or hall is socially deprived; likewise an urban housing estate. In fact anywhere where communities live that has no convenient, comfortable and safe public meeting place is socially deprived with an inevitable lack of community cohesion and chronic problems of isolation for many people. These problems become even more exaggerated in rural areas with poor transport links.
In 2011 The Localism Act brought in a process by which communities can nominate an Asset of Community Value (ACV). These assets range from skateboard parks to football stadia, but the largest group of listings is for pubs and shops.
An Asset of Community Value has to be nominated to the local authority by a body of local people. This can be 21 people living at 21 different addresses in the community or a body such as a club or a Parish Council. There are various rules about what can be nominated but, suffice to say, a pub or a shop is one of them. Nomination can be with or without the owner’s consent.
Once an ACV is registered (and also as soon as it has been nominated, if ultimately the nomination is successful) the asset has a degree of protection. If the owner wants to sell, the community is given notice. The community then has 6 weeks to register an interest and once the interest is registered a further 20 weeks to put together a bid to buy the asset. This is a breathing space of 26 weeks – it might sound a lot but 6 months passes very quickly…
The community has no preemptive right and no right to a discounted price. It has to negotiate along with any other interested parties. However it is likely to make a developer think twice, because if the community is organised enough to achieve a reasonable bid, it could be very difficult to get planning permission and change of use to redevelop a pub or shop into something completely different.