Community rights

Community rights

The Localism Act 2011 provided a legal set of rights for communities, handing more power back to local people. The legislation put in place new community rights.

Neighbourhood planning

The act gives communities a new right to draw up a neighbourhood plan, so they can influence the future of their local community.

They will be able to form a neighbourhood forum or work through a parish council to agree on the kind of new houses, shops and businesses that should be developed in the local area.

Local communities will be able to grant planning permissions in the areas they would most like to see new developments, ensuring they are delivered much quicker and the process is made easier.

Right to build
Community Right to Build, which is part of neighbourhood planning, enables local people to bring forward small, site-specific, community-led developments e.g. playground, shops and up to 20 houses.

More on the right to build
Development proposals will need to meet the minimum criteria and have the agreement of more than 50% of local people that vote through a community referendum.

It will be for communities to decide on the type of development they want to see, including the type and tenure of any housing.

Any benefits from any development - such as capital or rental receipts - will remain within the community.
In order to be able to use the right, members of a community will need to set themselves up as a corporate body with the purpose of furthering the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the local community.
Right to challenge
The Community Right to Challenge allows voluntary and community groups - including social enterprises, parish councils and local authority staff - the right to express an interest in taking over a council-run service.

More on the right to challenge
The aim is that local groups and organisations with new or good ideas should be able to put them forward and drive through improvements in local services.

Northumberland County Council is required to consider and respond to this expression of interest and it should initiate an open procurement process for the service which the challenging organisations, and others, can bid to take over.

Expressions of interest can be submitted to the commercial and procurement service manager at any time throughout the year. Successful expressions of interest
Once the authority accepts an expression of interest, this will trigger a full procurement exercise. This will be carried out in line with the authority’s existing procurement procedure and in line with procurement law.

It is worth highlighting that once a service undergoes a full procurement exercise, the opportunity to bid for the service is opened up to all organisations (including the private sector).

Unsuccessful expressions of interest
An expression of interest can be rejected, but only on the grounds set out in the regulations. Grounds for refusal may include:
  • failure to comply with the statutory requirements
  • material inadequacy or inaccuracy in the information provided
  • unsuitability of the organisation or its partners or sub-contractors
  • a decision to stop providing the service
  • the service being integral to people who are also in receipt of NHS services in an integrated package and its continuation critical to their wellbeing
  • a procurement exercise being already under way
  • negotiations for the service being under way, in writing, with a third party
  • notice being given that the authority is considering a proposal for the service from its employees
  • the expression of interest being frivolous
  • acceptance is likely to breach another legal obligation
When an expression of interest is unsuccessful, Northumberland County Council will write to the applicant explaining why the application was rejected.

Key contact
If you have any questions or want to discuss your expression of interest with Northumberland County Council, please contact Kirsten Francis, principal policy officer (inclusion):

Kirsten Francis
Planning, Housing and Economy Directorate
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF
Right to bid
The Community Right to Bid is intended to help keep assets of community value in the local area. This might be a local library, community centre or facility, local pub, etc. which is threatened with closure or sale.

To support this process, Northumberland County Council maintains a list of assets which have been nominated as having community value. When a listed asset becomes available for sale or change in ownership, the act gives community groups the time to put together a bid and to raise the capital needed to bid to buy the asset when it is available on the open market.

Community Right to Bid

What is an asset of community value?
The council deems a building or land is to be of community value if:
  • A current main use of the building or land furthers the social interests or wellbeing of the local community and it can realistically continue to do so, even in a different way.
  • The building or land was used recently to further social interests or wellbeing and it can realistically do so again in the next five years.
Making a nomination
It is important that your community group is eligible to nominate. You can only do this if you answer yes to the two questions below:
  • Do you have a local connection to the property you are wishing to nominate?
  • Are you an unincorporated community group with at least 21 members who are registered to vote in the Northumberland area, a parish council, charity, industrial and provident society, local neighbourhood forum, company limited by guarantee or a community interest company?
To nominate, you must inform us of the address of the property, details of the owner, the extent of the site and why you feel it is an asset of community value. You must also provide evidence of your eligibility to nominate. Once the form has been completed, you can return it by email to: Kirsten.francis@northumberland.gov.uk
Alternatively, you may send your nomination by post to:

Community Right to Bid
Policy and Research
Transformation Service
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Decision-making process
Once we have received the completed form, we will consider and check the eligibility of the nomination. If we feel the property does have community value, it will be added to the list of assets.

Assets will remain on the list for five years and a land charge will be registered against the property. We aim to assess nominations within eight weeks.

You will be advised that the property has been listed and the date when it will be removed. It is important you note the date, as there will be no further contact with you unless the property owner decides to sell. When the five years have expired, you can submit a new nomination.

If we decide to list a property, the owner can ask for a review and there will be an appeal to an independent body. Further guidance will be provided in the letter to the property owner.

We will tell the nominee if the nomination is ineligible and provide an explanation of why it was unsuccessful. The property will then be added to the list of ‘land nominated by unsuccessful community nominations’ and will remain on the list for five years.

There is no appeal or review process for unsuccessful nominations.
Additional guidance
There is additional guidance available to assist in the preparation of your application and to provide more detail relating to decision-making processes involved. We have also produced a FAQs section below, which should answer most of your questions.

Related documents

Community asset transfer

Here you will find information on the community asset transfer policy and application form.

Northumberland County Council’s community asset transfer policy is designed to give eligible organisations the opportunity to take over ownership of buildings that Northumberland County Council has deemed as surplus to the organisation’s needs.

Community asset transfer policy
Northumberland County Council's community asset transfer policy was adopted in 2011 and reviewed in 2013. The policy covers any asset owned by Northumberland County Council. The policy leaves this open for decision on a case-by-case basis.

The policy is not restricted to those assets which are identified by the council’s asset management strategy as surplus to requirements. It also includes property attached to a transfer of service provision, either long or short-term, and transfers to specialist service providers e.g. leisure trusts.

Transfer is generally considered to relate to leasehold or freehold arrangements in some cases at less than best consideration, or to giving community-led organisations first-refusal on a commercially-based disposal.

In transferring its assets to a community organisation, the council will consider the transfer of:
  • management
  • short/medium-term lease
  • long lease
  • freehold
Should you or your organisation wish to enquire about the possibility of taking over the ownership or responsibility for management of a Northumberland County Council asset, we would encourage you to contact us to discuss your requirements.

All enquiries should be directed to Kirsten Francis:

Telephone: (01670) 624741
Email: kirsten.francis@northumberland.gov.uk
Making a nomination
The following application form seeks to gain the necessary information for Northumberland County Council to make a decision regarding the suitability of an eligible organisation to be considered for a transfer of an asset.

Once completed, please return the application form to:

Kirsten Francis
Principal Policy Officer
Policy and Research
Transformation Group
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF

Telephone Number: (01670) 624741
E-mail: kirsten.francis@northumberland.gov.uk
Additional guidance

Community right to bid FAQs – listing an asset of 'community value'

Frequently asked questions about listing an asset of community value.

Who is eligible to nominate an asset for inclusion in the list of assets of 'community value'?
Nominations can be submitted by:
  • town and parish councils
  • unincorporated bodies with at least 21 individual members and which do not distribute any surplus it makes to its members
  • charities
  • company limited by guarantee which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members
  • industrial and provident society which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members
  • community interest companies
  • a body designated as a neighbourhood forum under the Town and Country Planning Act
The above groups will need to demonstrate a local connection:
  • activities wholly or partly concerned with local authority’s area, or neighbouring local authority's area
  • any surplus made wholly or partly applied for benefit of local authority’s area, or neighbouring local authority's area
  • unincorporated bodies must have at least 21 local members included on register of electors
What types of assets are eligible for listing?
Any land or buildings, in public or private ownership, which can demonstrate ‘community value’. This includes part of a building, part of any other structure and mines and minerals – whether or not held with the surface. 
How is ‘community value’ defined?
  • The principle use of the asset currently, or in the recent past, furthers the social wellbeing or cultural, recreational or sporting interests of the local community.
  • This use will continue to further the social wellbeing or interest of the local community.
 
If assets don’t demonstrate the ‘community value’, they may still be nominated if it is possible to demonstrate the asset’s main use in the recent past did further the social wellbeing or cultural, recreational or sporting interests of the local community, and it is realistic to think it will do so again in the next five years. 
What kinds of assets could be considered as having ‘community value’?
Sport, recreation and culture examples:
  • parks and open green spaces
  • sports and leisure centres
  • libraries
  • theatres
  • museums or heritage sites
  • cinemas
  • swimming pools
 
Community services examples:
  • community centres
  • youth centres
  • public toilets
 
Local democracy examples:
  • town halls
  • civic halls
  • guild halls
 
Any buildings of economic use (e.g. a business) which provides an important local social benefit could also be considered, such as:
  • village shops
  • pubs
  • markets
What kind of assets would not normally be considered as having ‘community value’?
  • administrative offices
  • land or property where community use is secondary to its main purpose
  • land attached to residential property (although the regulations set out certain exceptions for shops and pubs)
  • land covered by caravan sites and Control of Development Act 1960
  • land used by public utilities, defined as operational land in section 263 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
 
For a full list of exemptions and related definitions, please see the regulations here
How do I nominate an asset for inclusion in the list of assets of community value?
Nominations must be made in writing using this nomination form. For further information please contact:

Economic and inclusion policy team
Planning, economy and housing
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Email: Kirsten.Francis@northumberland.gov.uk
Tel: 01670 624741
What information will I need to provide?
Nominations need to include:
  • a description of the asset (including proposed boundaries clearly edged in red)
  • a statement of all information which the nominator has of the names of the current occupiers, and the names and current (or last known addresses) of all those holding a freehold or leasehold estate in the land
  • reasons for thinking the council should deem the land having ‘community value’
  • evidence the nominator is eligible to make a nomination (see above)
  • a completed nomination form
What kinds of documents should support the nomination?
Generally, the more evidence you can send to support the nomination, the quicker we can reach a decision. As a minimum please provide:
A) evidence to support that the nominator is eligible to make a nomination (as appropriate to the organisation) :
  • memorandum of association
  • articles of association
  • companies house return
  • trust deed
  • constitution/terms of reference
  • standing orders
  • interest statement for community interest company
B) information showing the boundaries of the nominated asset, through one of more of the following:
  • the Land Registry Title information document and map with boundaries clearly marked in red and less than one month old
  • the Provision of Land Registry information, this information is not essential but it may help us reach a decision quicker
  • a written description with ordinance survey location, explaining where the boundaries are, the approximate size and location of any building(s) on the land, and details of any roads bordering the site
  • a drawing or sketch map with boundaries clearly marked in red, google maps can help with this 
Where should I send the nomination?
Send all nominations to:
 
Community right to bid
Economic and inclusion policy team
Planning, economy and housing
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF
 
Email: Kirsten.Francis@northumberland.gov.uk
Tel: 01670 624741
How will the nomination be processed?
We usually acknowledge receipt of the nomination within three working days. They will then be considered in line with the requirements set out in the regulations, including notifying the following of the asset consideration:
  • the relevant town or parish council
  • the relevant Northumberland Councillor(s) for the ward involved
  • the asset owner
  • the holder of the freehold estate
  • the holder of any leasehold estate
  • any lawful occupant
  • statutory undertakers, such as utility companies

We will make our decision within eight weeks of receiving the nomination and will notify the following of the reasons behind this:
  • the owner of the land
  • the occupier of the land (if not the owner)
  • the nominator
  • the holder of the freehold estate
  • the holder of any leasehold estate
  • the relevant town or parish council
  • the relevant Northumberland Councillor(s) for the area
 
Where we are unable to notify any of the above, we will try to bring the notice to the person’s attention – for example by publishing the details on the Northumberland County Council website and in a local newspaper.
 
The nominator’s contact details provided on the nomination form with be used for future correspondence, therefore it is essential the nominator contacts the council if there are any changes to contact details during the period of the listing.
 
All information provided in the nomination form will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act for the purposes of administering the community right to bid procedure. The information will be stored securely by Northumberland County Council and will be destroyed after six years. Name and contact details provided will be shared with the owner of the asset in the event the nominating organisation subsequently submits an intention to bid. The information provided will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act, but personal information (names and contact details) will not be released in responses to Freedom of Information requests.
How can I find out which assets have been nominated for inclusion in the list of assets of ‘community value’?
View the list of assets here, which include both successful and unsuccessful nominations. Copies are also available at County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 2EF.

Alternatively you can request a copy by contacting:

Community right to bid
Economic and inclusion policy team
Planning, economy and housing
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Email: Kirsten.Francis@northumberland.gov.uk
Telephone: 01670 624741
How long will the asset remain on the list?
Assets will be listed for a period of five years and will be notified to the land registry as a registered restriction.