Community Right to Bid

Community Right to Bid is part of the Localism Act and its aim is to give local communities’ early warning of the sale of land and buildings they have identified as having community value to enable them to bid to buy them.

It requires the council to maintain a list of buildings and other lands in its area which are of community value, and ensures that when such land is sold local groups will have the opportunity to delay the sale to enable them to prepare a bid to buy it.

Community Right to Bid does not restrict who the owner of the listed asset sells to, the price the owner sells at or what the owner can do with the property once listed.

Getting an asset listed

Parish councils and local voluntary and community bodies can nominate local land and buildings to be included in the List of Assets of Community Value.

For an asset to be listed, the nominee has to demonstrate that its main use now, or in the recent past (usually within the last 5 years) contributes to the social wellbeing or cultural, recreational or sporting interests of the local community – and that this use will continue.  Examples could include:

  • village shops,
  • pubs,
  • community centres and playing fields. 

Buildings used as private residences, offices and areas which haven’t had public access will not be included.

The council has produced guidance notes to help communities interested in nominating an asset. A nomination has to contain certain information, so a nomination form has been produced to ensure submissions comply with the requirements, please use it.

The District Council considers each submitted nomination form and supporting evidence and decides whether the asset is and/or will be of 'community value’ and therefore should be listed.  This can take up to 8 weeks and during this time the parish council, ward councillors, owners, leasers, occupants and people with a legitimate interest will be informed of the request to list.

When an asset is listed some restrictions on the owner come into force; when the owner decides to sell the asset they must inform Thanet District Council and an initial period of 6 weeks is provided to allow a community interest group (charity or body with a legal identity of their own separate from members) to register an interest in making a bid to purchase the asset.

If the community decides not to submit a bid, then the owner is free to dispose of the asset on the open market. When an interest to bid is registered the asset can not be sold for 6 months. This 6 months moratorium period starts from the date the owner informed the council they want to sell the asset. This time gives the group an opportunity to develop a proposal and raise the finance to bid for the asset. During the moratorium period the asset can not be disposed of unless to the community group.

It’s important to note that the listing serves only to give a window of time for groups to prepare to bid alongside other potential buyers.  The sale takes place under normal market conditions and the owner is under no obligation to sell to the community group.  Equally, community groups which have registered an interest to bid are under no obligation to purchase.

If the owner does not receive a bid from the community or does not accept the offer during the 6 months moratorium period then the owner is free to dispose of the asset on the open market for a further 12 months, at the end of which the whole process begins again, if the property has not been sold. 

Other sources of information and advice:

1. The legislation website has the legal documents. The explanatory memorandum to the regulations (No. 2421) is a good place to start.

2. HM Government Community Rights website has case studies and outlines the process and the steps a community group will need to do to take advantage of the legislation.

3. Locality is an independent national network of community-led organisations that is a source of advice and publications for community and local groups, including the publication To Have and to Hold, The Development Trusts Association guide to asset development

4. My Community Rights website has support and advice on Community Right to Bid and asset transfer, plus possible grants. It is run by Locality.

5. Asset Transfer Unit, delivered by Locality, has guidance on how to take assets and land into community ownership and run them successfully. The guidance covers: getting started, getting investment ready, taking a stake in an asset, property development and property management.

6. The Charity Commission is a source of information on setting up and running charities. The model governing documents are a good model for constitutions.

7. Land Registry is a source of information on who owns property and maps of the property.