Recent cases have somewhat diluted the effectiveness of town and village green claims in opposing plans of house builders for local development and the ACV listing process introduced by the Localism Act 2011 may be the next best weapon of choice available to local activists to try to prevent and delay development in their area.

The idea Localism Act is to give more power and influence to local people and the community when issues relating to planning and development in their area are considered. However, some of the provisions of that Act can have a surprising but very real impact on a property which may prevent or substantially delay an owner’s ability to sell that property as and when they wish.

The Act introduces the concept that a property can be listed by the Local Authority as an Asset of Community Value (an ACV) and once listed as such, the owner of that property may be prevented for certain periods from selling it for a purpose other than one which is considered to be of community value – for example, prevented for certain periods from selling for residential or commercial development.

For a property to be listed as an ACV, an application to the local Council must be made by the parish council or a voluntary or community body with a local connection. This is a wide class of groups ranging from local charities to a group of at least 21 individuals. This means that a relatively small group of people can make an application. The Council will then consider their application and make a decision which can be subject to appeal by the owner.

If a property is granted ACV status the owner must inform the Council if they intend to dispose of the property. There will then be an interim moratorium period of six weeks when the Council will receive any notices of intent to bid from any interested local parties and pass on details to the owner. If the local parties have expressed an interest in purchasing the property, there will be a further full moratorium period for six months to give an interested buyer the chance to put together a full bid.

During these moratorium periods, the owner of the land is only allowed to dispose of the property in limited circumstances to certain parties – for instance to a charity or other “community interest group”. The price to be paid by any such buyer must still be the price required by the owner of the land – as such, the price may be much too high for a charity or local group to afford but the whole process does at least give them a chance of bidding, although even then the owner is not obliged to accept any offer. The ACV process is in practice therefore more of a delaying device rather than a weapon to stop development altogether.

It has been reported that over 100 pubs have been given ACV status, backed by the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) campaign to ‘list your local’. Other high profile cases of ACVs being granted so far are Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium and the South Bank Undercroft skateboard area.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors has recently acted for the sellers of the first ACV site listed by Wokingham Borough Council, the former White House School site, navigating the ACV legislation in the process through to a successful conclusion to the sale at a price acceptable to the seller.

If you own an ACV or are considering purchasing property which is or could be listed with ACV status and you are unsure of the effect it may have, please contact Tim Read of Clifton Ingram LLP for more information at

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