As a school premises, Abbots Bromley School serves a charitable purpose and also a community purpose by allowing the schools facilities to be used for the benefit of the community.
At this basis the community have options to prevent the school from being acquired by developers and the property being used for non educational purposes and with this process, this puts the ideas of Woodard to sell the school to developers to bed for a window of time whilst the community pulls together and puts together ideas for the future of the school and to ensure it does not sell to developers quickly.
So what is this option you refer to?
Nominating an asset of community value is the process which means that Woodard can be held to account and also provide the community group the first option to acquire the site.
There is now a statutory duty upon local authorities to maintain a list of assets of community value.
Nominations for the list of assets have to come from the community itself. For the purposes of making a nomination, the request must come from a voluntary or community body with a local connection and relate to land in the local authority’s area, or in the neighbouring local authority’s area.
An eligible voluntary or community body is defined as:
• an unincorporated group of 21 or more people who appear on the local electoral register;
• a community interest group: i.e. a legally constituted organisation such as a charity, a company limited by guarantee that does not distribute profits amongst its members, an Industrial and Provident Society that does not distribute profits amongst its members or a Community Interest Company;
• a Neighbourhood Forum designated as such by the local planning authority;
a Parish Council in respect of land in its own area.
You can then use the Community Right to Bid if this asset ever comes up for sale – the community can have up to six months to raise the funds to bid for it. At the end of the period, the owner may sell it to whoever and at whatever price they choose.
Community Right to Bid
Listed Assets of Community Value stay on your local authority’s list for up to five years.
Pubs that are listed as ACVs require a planning application to change their use or demolish them (the same protection applies pending a decision from the point when the pub is nominated for ACV status). If the pub is listed as an ACV, these requirements will be effective for the duration of the listing..
During this period, if the owner of the listed asset decides to sell they must inform the local authority of their intention to do so. The community then have up to six weeks to express an interest in becoming potential bidders to buy the asset.
Once an expression of interest has been received, a further four and a half month pause in the sale process is triggered. This gives potential bidders a total of six months to raise the funds required to purchase the asset. At the end of the period, the owner may sell it to whoever and at whatever price they choose.
How is this done?
I have raised the possibility of this option being explored with the local parish council and this is something they were looking to explore but at this time we need this to be done for a little security on how the site can be used and basically offer a window of pause on the sale to anyone who may not have honourable intentions.
Would this stop the sale to an educational buyer?
No, not at all.
Lets assume a bidder came along who wished to acquire the school as an educational provider, this would mean the community would get notification of the bid and asked if they would like to trigger the process to buy the asset, at this point it would be possible for the community to simply withdraw from the process and allow a smooth pathway to the new owners.
At this stage, someone needs to step up and take this by the horns.
At this point, it would be great for the local Parish Council to take this on and I will continue to raise this.
If however, this isn’t possible for the Parish Council to undertake in this process we can do that alone simply using 21 parents who are on the Electoral roll within the local council area.