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Community rights and the Localism Act

Community Rights are a set of powers which give you more control over your community. You can now have a say in what happens to important local amenities such as shops, parks and pubs.

The new rights are contained within the Localism Act devolving power from government to communities, local authorities and individuals.

A brief description of each right is given below and for those looking for advice and support, community charity Locality has provided a website whick includes a range of advice and support.


Community right to challenge

This enables communities to challenge to take over local council services that they think they can run differently and better. The Right to Challenge could be used to run a wide range of local council services.

A challenge will be considered by the council and may be accepted or rejected. If it is accepted this does not mean you will necessarily get to run the services as the council would have to run a tendering exercise which anyone can bid for, including the private sector.


Community right to bid

The aim of the Community Right to Bid is to keep valued land and buildings in community use by giving local people the chance to bid to buy them, if and when they come onto the market.

You will have the opportunity to nominate public and private land and buildings to be part of a list of 'assets of community value'. These could include village shops, public houses, former schools, swimming pools, a public open space which might currently be owned by the local authority or another public body or a private company or an individual.

If something on this list is offered for sale, the right is triggered and you'll have up to six months to prepare a bid to compete to buy it.


Neighbourhood planning

The Localism Act introduces statutory Neighbourhood Planning in England. It will enable communities to draw up a Neighbourhood Plan for their area and is intended to give communities more of a say in the development of their local area (within certain limits and parameters).

These plans will be used to decide the future of the places where you live and work giving opportunities to:

  • choose where you want new homes, shops and offices to be built
  • have your say on what new buildings should look like
  • grant planning permission for the new buildings you want to see go ahead


Community right to build

The Community Right to Build is a new way for communities to choose for themselves where and when to build homes, shops, facilities and businesses.

As an alternative to the traditional application for planning permission, it gives communities the power to decide for themselves what happens in their neighbourhood.

The Community Right to Build came into force on April 6, 2012 and forms part of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations made following the Localism Act 2011.

Communities will be able to build:

  • family homes to sell on the open market
  • affordable housing for rent or to convert disused farm buildings into affordable homes
  • sheltered housing for elderly local residents
  • low cost starter homes for young local families struggling to get on the housing ladder
  • facilities such as a new community centre or a children's playground

It depends entirely what local people decide their community needs. The benefits of these developments, such as any profits generated, will be managed by a community organisation on behalf of the whole community.

Application guidance and full details of how to apply are available from the Homes and Communities Agency.

If you are interested in finding out more you may find it useful to consider the plain English Guide to the Localism Act.

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