Fairness must work both ways when it comes to community rights, says CLA

05 November 2014

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, has told the Parliament’s influential Communities and Local Government Select Committee that the process which gives communities the right to bid for so-called “assets of community value”, such as sports fields or village halls, must also be fair for the landowner selling the asset.

Giving evidence to the Select Committee Inquiry yesterday (4 November), CLA Deputy President Ross Murray called on the Government to look at tightening up the guidance issued to local authorities when dealing with assets of community value, to thoroughly review the rights in five years and to ensure that the role of the landowner is recognised on an equal footing within the process. 

Many owners of a designated community asset object to the regulations because it means their right to sell the asset at a time, or potentially to a person of their choosing is lost, which may cause difficulties with business and tax planning or if the need occurs to sell an asset quickly to raise funds.

Speaking after the evidence session Mr Murray said: “For generations land and property owners have invested in their community and provided hundreds of owned assets at no cost or below market rate for communities to use. However, as a direct result of an ill-thought through policy, landowners are actively discouraged from continuing this time-honoured tradition.

“The policy is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences. It was designed for saving local pubs and post offices which has now stretched to mountains and views. This has resulted in more and more appeals going to tribunal, making landowners extremely cautious about providing their assets for community use because doing so might affect their long-term business plans.”

Mr Murray added: “Throwing more taxpayers’ money to proactively push these rights at a time when resource is tight is not the solution and it puts huge pressure on local authorities. Let landowners get on and do what they have been doing for hundreds of years without this hindrance.”

 

The recording of yesterday’s evidence session is available on the Parliament Live website.

Read the CLA’s written evidence submitted to the Inquiry.