Power to the locals – but not if you own land

Power to the people in the new Localism Bill may not be all that it appears if the people in question happen to be local landowners.  Let’s suppose that some of the land on your farm or estate has been managed at a fairly low level of intensity, over which you have tolerated local public access for many years.  When this bill becomes law you may find it has been nominated as Land of Community Value.  The local authority will have to consider this nomination and, even if you object, may have to include your land on the published local List of Assets of Community Value for a period of five years or longer.

So what?  If you now find you need to sell this land you will have to notify the local authority.  A moratorium will then come into force to enable potential community bidders to make an offer.  How long will this moratorium last?  We don’t know – that aspect has been left to regulations to be made later on by the appropriate authority (a government minister). 

A worrying amount of the detail is left to future regulations: length of the moratorium periods, compensation provisions, definitions of who can make a nomination.  But we do know that the unsuccessful nominations will have to be published as well as those which are successful.

Feeling empowered?  Imagine the impact on a farm or estate sale.  Does the land include Land of Community Value?  Has the local authority been notified?  Has the moratorium period passed?  Meanwhile a buyer is standing by with money ready, able and willing to purchase if only the contract can be signed in time to claim rollover relief …….

For the plain English guide to the Localism Bill, see:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/localismplainenglishguide

But for the full impact, have a look at the bill itself and the explanatory notes:

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/localism.html

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