Here’s a story about how a local council can use the Localism legislation to protect a community against unwelcome development – if it has a mind to do so.
The problem here was a popular local pub. A developer bought it, closed it, claimed it was unviable as a business, and has been trying to turn it into offices or housing. The upper floor was converted into a self-contained flat without planning permission, Local people mounted a challenge: they wanted it to be re-opened as a pub or sold to someone who would do so.
Using a provision within the Localism Act called “Community Right to Bid”, the local authority designated the pub as an “Asset of Community Value” (ACV). This means that, if the pub comes on the market, the community has six weeks in which to decide if it wants to make a bid, and then six months in which to raise the wherewithal.
The owner appealed against the ACV designation – and lost. The local authority is also taking enforcement action against the unauthorised change of use of the property.
Community Right to Bid legislation cannot force an owner to put a property on the market, or to sell to a preferred bidder. But it does give the community the time and the opportunity to make a bid – and it sends a strong signal that the local authority will support the community. It may even lead to a Compulsory Purchase Order.
Could this happen in Faversham’? What are our Assets of Community Value?