What is a Community Asset Register?
The Localism Act of 2011 gives communities the right to ask the council to list certain assets as being of value to the community. This list is known as a Community Asset Register.
If an asset is listed and then comes up for sale, communities have six months in which to put together a bid to buy it.
The Act gives communities an increased chance to save local facilities of community value. The Localism Act does not give a right to buy the property in question (there is no obligation on the owner to accept a bid from the community – but it does give potential bidders the time to put a proposal together).
What property qualify?
To qualify, a property (a building or land) must have a current or recent use which can be shown to further the social well-being or social (cultural, recreational or sporting) interest of the community. It can be a private or publicly-owned property. It can’t be a residential property.
The Localism Act does not allow for ‘heritage buildings’ to be included on the register just because they have a ‘heritage value’. They must have a ‘current or recent use’ which can be shown to further the social well-being or social interest of the community’. So, it’s the use of the building that is the key here, not its heritage characteristics.
It will also be necessary to show that the main use of the building or land can continue to meet these social objectives in the future – or in the case of a building or land where the use ceased in the recent past – that it could be brought back into social use within five years.
Buildings or land which have not had a social use for some years or have been empty or derelict are not covered by the Act.
- Barnhorne Manor could not be registered as a community asset as it is a residential property.
- The air-raid shelter on Upper Sea Road could not be registered as a community asset because it does not have a current or recent use which can be shown to further the social well-being or social interest of the community.
- Beaulieu Road Open Space, St Barnabas Church and the shelters on East Parade could be registered as a community asset because they do have a current or recent use which can be shown to further the social well-being or social interest of the community.
Bexhill Heritage applied recently for Pages Gap to be registered as a community asset, following a member’s suggestion.
What assets are currently registered by Rother District Council?
Only four community assets in Bexhill are included on Rother District Council’s Community Asset Register. These are: Gulliver’s Bowls Club, Gulliver’s Sports Ground, St. Mary’s Wood and Old Bank Chambers. (The owner of Gullivers Sports Ground gave notice in March 2019 that they are considering selling the asset. Consequently, Rother District Council announced an ‘interim moratorium’ of six weeks, allowing community groups to become potential bidders for the asset.)
RDC’s latest register of community assets: http://www.rother.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=18754
How can Bexhill Heritage help extend the current register?
Bexhill Heritage, as a community group defined by the Localism Act, is entitled to nominate buildings and land to be included on Rother District Council’s Community Asset Register and to co-ordinate or support a community bid to buy such a property should it come up for sale.
The right to nominate land and buildings for the Community Asset Register is restricted to ‘constituted local community groups’. Bexhill Heritage meets all the criteria to be recognised as such a group. Individuals are not entitled by the Localism Act to nominate land or buildings for the register.
How members can help?
Bexhill Heritage’s committee invite members to identify land and buildings with current or recent use which can be shown to further the social well-being or social interest of the community. These pieces of land or buildings can be privately or publicly owned but not be residential properties.
The committee will assess nominations by members and, provided the proposals meet the criteria laid down in the Localism Act, will recommend that the assets be included on Rother District Council’s register.