Community assets to get ‘safety net’

VALUABLE community assets could be saved from closure as part of a new scheme being launched by the Government.

The ‘Asset of Community Value’ scheme – part of the Localism Act – places a duty on local authorities to maintain a list of land in its area that is of ‘community value’.

The initiative will allow parish councils and community groups to step in and purchase assets so they can be kept open and useable. The Government is hoping it will stop closures of important facilities which would have otherwise have been lost as a result of change of use.

As yet, it is unclear what this will mean in Uttlesford. Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Susan Barker, said: “It is still in the very early stages and we don’t know how the Government will characterise assets. It could be a church, a town hall, a pub or an orchard.”

If an asset is listed then the owner cannot dispose of it unless they have notified the district council or a written request from a community group regarding purchase has not been received.

“Some assets, such as pubs, will not be owned by the community at the moment so the private owner could be upset about it. We have no idea what processes there are for individuals to oppose it.”

The Government has not given a date when the duty will come into effect.