Government would score own-goal with Localism Bill proposals, says CLA

22 October 2013

The CLA today (Wednesday, 4 May) said proposals in the Government's Localism Bill will increase red tape for land-based businesses and discourage landowners from providing land and buildings – so called "Community Assets" - for use by local communities.

As the Government concluded a consultation process on controversial aspects of the Bill, the Association said that the plans spelled out in the consultation document and the Bill were deeply flawed.

CLA President William Worsley said: "These proposals will not work in practice and will discourage landowners from providing land and buildings to be used by their local communities.

"Ministers have frequently mentioned the plight of rural pubs and post offices but this is not addressed by the Bill or the consultation document. Proposals to make these countryside businesses more economically viable by reducing red tape and the tax burden, as the Government has often promised to do, would have been very welcome."

He said that the Government has decided to take the opposite approach and is proposing more regulations to give local authorities the power to ban owners from selling or giving away their land or buildings until the local community has had a chance to raise funds to bid for them, which could take up to a year.   

Mr Worsley said: "As a result the owner will lose the chance to sell or transfer his property at a time of his or her own choosing, which will make it much harder to plan ahead or take advantage of unexpected opportunities. It is very bad news for rural businesses.

"For generations, landowners in rural areas have provided privately owned assets for the good of the local community, but this Bill's proposals threaten this long-standing tradition. There is hardly a village in the country that has not benefited from the landowner providing a playing field or village hall."