Increasing numbers of sites are being registered by community groups as Assets of Community Value or ACVs. These range from community pubs to mountains to premiership football grounds – in July, the Lakeland fell Blencathra was listed, and both Anfield and Old Trafford are already ACVs. There have been press reports of buildings or land being listed with the aim of maintaining the current use for the local community, but there is some confusion about what listing as an ACV means for the site and the owner.
ACV listing was meant to be about giving a community a chance to purchase an asset if it was viable to do so. It provides a relatively sensible balance between the interests of land owners and the needs of the community. The Ivy House in Nunhead was one of the first pubs to be nominated as an ACV. It was purchased by a community group during the moratorium (see below) and is now run as a co-operative.
ACV status was not meant to be a material consideration in determining planning applications although it was, perhaps, inevitable that it would become one. The difficulty is that ACV listing might lead to the refusal of consent for change of use where there is no earthly chance of the asset ever being re-used for the community purpose it was listed for. That is not such a sensible balance.
The table below briefly sets out the listing process, outlining the steps required to list an asset, and the implications of listing on a sale or the grant or assignment of a lease of an ACV.
|Day 1||Building or land is nominated to the local authority by a parish council (in England) or a community council (in Wales) or a voluntary or community body with a local connection.|
|Up to 8 weeks later||The local authority has eight weeks to consider whether or not to list the asset, and must keep the owner, any occupier of the land, the nominating group and the parish council informed.|
|Further 8 weeks||The owner of the ACV has eight weeks from the date they were informed of the listing to ask the local authority to carry out an internal review of the decision to list the building or land if they are unhappy with the result.|
|Another 8 weeks||The local authority has eight weeks from the date they received the request to review their decision and inform the owner, unless a longer period is agreed.|
|28 days||If the owner is unhappy with the result of the internal review, they may appeal the decision to the First Tier Tribunal. They must make the appeal within 28 days of the local authority sending their review decision to the owner.|
|Five years from listing||The local authority must remove ACVs from the list on the fifth anniversary of the asset first being placed on the list, unless it has been removed earlier for any reason, for example as a result of an appeal.|
Sale of an ACV
|Day 1||If the owner decides to sell the ACV, or grant or assign a lease of 25 years or more, they must inform the local authority, subject to some exemptions. The local authority will then inform the group who nominated the ACV and publicise the proposed sale.|
|6 weeks||There is a six week interim moratorium period from the date the owner notifies the local authority, during which time a community interest group can make a bid. During this period, the owner can only enter an agreement to sell to a community interest group.|
|If no community interest group has made a bid, the ACV may be sold or leased to any party after the end of the six week period.|
|If a group has made a bid, there is a further four and a half months of moratorium during which the community group can prepare a business plan and arrange finance, and during which time the owner may only sell the ACV to a community interest group.|
|Further 4.5 months||The moratorium period ends six months after the date the owner informed the local authority of their intention to sell or grant a 25 year plus lease. After the end of the moratorium, the owner may sell to any party within the next year.|
|One year from the end of the moratorium||If no sale is made within that year, a further moratorium process must be followed before the owner can sell or grant a lease of the ACV.|