The Committee said it heard from “several witnesses” that six months was not a sufficient amount of time to put together an offer, particularly for communities that need to develop the necessary skills and contacts to make a bid and secure funding.
However, it added that the Government should also ensure the moratorium on a sale can be brought to an immediate end if a community group bid has been abandoned.
According to DCLG, more than 1,800 properties are listed as ACVs – and 31% of these are pubs. Simon Danczuk MP, a member of the committee, submitted a Freedom of Information Request to local authorities, which revealed that of the 122 groups that triggered a moratorium, 60 were unsuccessful, 27 bids are outstanding and only 11 have resulted in a community buyout.
The recommendation is one of several changes the Committee has called on the Government to consider in a new report. Other changes include:
- Amend guidance so that an ACV listing is “a material consideration for local authorities in all planning applications other than those for minor works”
- Allow an immediate re-nomination where new and material information arises
- Introduce a nominator’s right to appeal against a local authority’s decision not to list an asset as an ACV
- Close the loophole which allows an ACV to be sold as a going concern when the buyer has no intention of retaining it in its current use
- Improve public awareness of Community Rights scheme
- Analyse data from local authorities on the take-up of Community Rights, to find out which groups are using the scheme, why those that do succeed or fail, how the rights might be reformed and to target resources more effectively
Clive Betts MP, chair of the CLG Committee, said he welcomed the Government’s plans to remove permitted development rights for ACV-listed properties, but said the wording of this needs to ensure that a pub with ACV status “can’t just be sold—lose its ACV status and its protection from change of use—and then be converted to something else overnight”.
He added: “The opportunity to take on and run a pub, a post office or a community centre is the opportunity to make a real contribution to local life. But the Government’s Community Rights programme currently puts too many obstacles in the way for most local people to turn this opportunity into reality.
“Giving communities more time to organise and arrange finance, making the Rights less complicated to use and amending planning controls would give people the chance of a greater say in the running of prized local assets and services.”
Tim Page, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "CAMRA has welcomed the Government's announcement that it intends to extend planning protection to pubs listed as Assets of Community Value, and we are pleased to see the Select Committee backing this course of action.
"We now urge the Government to deliver on this promise before the General Election, but crucially to get the detail right. In particular we want to see a commitment from Ministers that they will close the potential loophole in their plans whereby pubs listed as ACVs will lose this planning protection when sold on to a developer with vacant possession."