Assets of Community Value
The Localism Act 2011 enables local residents to form a community group and bid for land that is deemed to be an “asset of community value” (ACV). It is in force in England but not yet in Wales. ACVs refer to land or buildings that further social well-being or social interests or where the property used to offer these benefits and is likely to offer them again in future. Examples include: village halls, pubs, playing fields or parks but not residential property or land sold “as a going concern.” There are also other exemptions.
Where land is on an ACV list, the owner’s powers to sell the land are held up until either:
- six weeks after the owner’s notification to the local authority of its intention to sell, where no interested community group expresses an interest in making a bid in this period; or
- six months from notification if an expression of interest in making a bid has been made by a community group or groups within the initial six weeks.
Within those 6 months the seller cannot sell to a third party – the community group or groups have that time to put together a bid, which the owner is not obliged to accept. After the six months, the owner can sell to whoever it wishes but perhaps by then the market will have declined or another and better bidder might have lost interest.
Disposals in breach of the regulations are likely to be void.
Owners of land or buildings affected by designation can ask the council to review its decision and have a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal if that review fails. Owners of ACVs can also apply for compensation if they suffer loss or expense because of the listing provided they claim it within 13 weeks of the date by which they finished incurring the loss or expense.
Councils are required to register ACVs as local land charges so they should show up in normal conveyancing land charges searches but, of course, only up to the date of the relevant search. They may also be noted against the title to the land, if it is registered land.