NAVCA Blog - posted in October 2011
The following blogs were posted in October 2011.
Although the phrases 'Right to Buy' and 'Community Right to Buy' have been widely used by politicians and others in connection with the provisions around Assets of Community Value in the Localism Bill, this wording has never been included in any version of the Bill itself. (The situation has been further confused recently by the Prime Minister's use of 'right to buy' in its formerly familiar sense of council tenants' right to buy their houses.)
So far as the relevant part of the Localism Bill is concerned, 'Right to Buy' is, in any case, a misnomer.
What the Localism Bill actually proposes is:
- a right to propose the listing by local councils of particular properties as 'assets of community value'; and
- a guaranteed minimum period of time for civil society organisations (CSOs) to put together funding packages and business plans so that they are able to make an offer to buy such assets should they come up for sale.
The provisions do not give Civil Society organisations the power to force a sale, nor give them a right of first refusal; and the vendor, whether public or private sector, retains the right to reject any Civil Society Organisation's offer in favour of any other offer.
Based on NAVCA members' experience of asset transfer, we initially lobbied for the full moratorium period to be increased from the proposed 6 months to 1 year, because this is a more realistic time for local charities to be able to raise money to bid to buy a building. We were countered, however, by the Country Landowners and Business Association who lobbied for the period to be reduced to 3 months, which would have made it all but useless to community groups.
Despite an initial intention that the moratorium and protected periods should be set locally, at the Bill's report stage in the House of Lords, the Government rejected the CLA's proposal and set the interim moratorium period at 6 weeks, the full moratorium period at 6 months (in accordance with the joint briefing published by NAVCA and nine other national charities) and the protected period at 18 months.
NAVCA is also lobbying for an emergency appeals process where a local authority fails to list, for example, a building which a private sector company, or indeed the council, wants to sell quickly.
For further details, please see the Localism Bill itself, Part 5, Chapter 3, Clauses 87-108.