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Trumper's Field: Community Right to Bid

Review_of_Villages_within_the_Green_Belt[...]
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Given the latest information in the Review document above (not easy to find! - Pages 37/38) it appears that, at present Trumper's Field isn't under immediate risk. 
 
However, when the various house building numbers in Bucks start to miss the targets, it is possible that Bucks Council will be looking for possible new locations to take houses. The Local Plan gets reviewed and changed regularly!
 
One resident has commented as follows: "I would conclude that it is highly likely that the land beyond the village hall, which is bound by the river Thames and by the M4 might at some future point be considered suitable for 'minor windfall development'. The fact that that site is entirely enclosed by existing settlement, the river and M4 does suggest that the aim of Green Belt is not met in this instance, so there exists a defensible logic for removal of this land from Green Belt, freeing it up for some kind of small scale development. However, the site is not [currently] amongst the 11 identified in Policy SP LP1 as being the most suitable for new homes."
 
The fact that Bucks Unitary Authority owns the land together with the recent acquisition of the house/land alongside the lane up to Trumper's Field (by Highways England) certainly increases that risk.
 
So, what might be done to protect Trumper's Field from inappropriate development?
 
A video from Brown Not Green, the residents' group from Chesham, covers the actions they have taken/are taking to protect a similar field at Ley End which has actually been identified for development. The part of the video that relates to this is between 5.50 and 12.30 minutes on the video.
 
In summary they are doing the following:
  • Registering the field as an Asset of Community Value
  • Attempting to establish all of the footpaths across the field being adopted as Public Rights of Way, through the Modification of the Definitive Map.
  • Seeking to identify all of the properties that have rear access into the field (for 20 years?) and establish these as "Prescriptive Rights".
 
None of these things will, necessarily, stop future development, but the combination (especially the first one) will give Dorney Reach Residents an element of control of the land and what, eventually, might end up there. If the residents decided that they wanted to buy the field, they could put in a bid. The Village Hall and Playground might be interested in being involved.
 
A brief explanation of how this might be done follows:

Enabling Dorney Reach to maintain control of the future of Trumper’s Field

 

Trumper’s Field is at risk of being the first plot of land around Dorney Reach to fall foul of the proposed withdrawal of the protection of the Metropolitan Green Belt contained in the Draft Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan 2016-1036 (Page 150/Page 152 on PDF).

 

Trumper’s Field is owned by Bucks Council. Highways England has bought the house next to the lane to Trumper’s Field and the Village Hall for reasons related to the M4 Smart Motorway. Transferring that ownership to Bucks Council or to a developer in order to provide a wide vehicular access to Trumper’s Field doesn’t appear to be difficult – thus opening up Trumper’s Field for development.

 

  • One way for the community of Dorney Reach to maintain some element of control regarding the future of Trumper’s Field is to make a Community Right to Bid for the land owned by Bucks Council – which is, basically, all of it. This includes the Village Hall.

 

  • It can be done through a Community Group of 21 people or more.

 

  • Trumper’s Field appears to tick all of the boxes required.

 

  • It would put the Dorney Reach Community in the driving seat as and when Bucks Council, or its successor, decides to sell the land to a developer.

 

  • In such a case, the Dorney Reach Community could decide if it wished to buy the land (and Village Hall) from Bucks Council and then could decide which developer would provide what Dorney Reach wanted – or leave the land as it is now.

 

The Community Right to Bid allows communities and parish councils to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value. If the asset comes up for sale, the community can ‘pause’ the sale and take up to six months to find the funding required to buy the asset.

The Community Right to Bid (Assets of Community Value in legislation) is one of a raft of new initiatives introduced in the Localism Act 2011.

The Community Right to Bid allows communities and parish councils to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value. An asset can be listed if its principal use furthers (or has recently furthered) their community’s social well-being or social interests (which include cultural, sporting or recreational interests) and is likely to do so in the future.

When a listed asset comes to be sold, a moratorium on the sale (of up to six months) may be invoked, providing local community groups with a better chance to raise finance, develop a business and to make a bid to buy the asset on the open market.

 

The Bucks website provides information on the Community Right to Bid and provides examples of parish councils and community groups that have listed such assets. The unsuccessful listings appear to be restricted to certain pubs.

 

How the Community Right to Bid works: The Legislation

How the Community Right to Bid works is set out in the Localism Act and Regulations.

With the Community Right to Bid, Local Authorities must keep a ‘List of Assets of Community Value’; the legislation sets out in detail the process they must enter into and what information they must include.

The legislation also outlines the definition of an asset of community value, what groups can legitimately nominate, the appeals process for land owners, timescales for groups interested in buying land or property on the list, and compensation available to the owners of land or property on the list.

 

What is an Asset of Community Value?

A building or other land is an asset of community value if its main use has recently been or is presently used to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and could do so in the future. The Localism Act states that “social interests” include cultural, recreational and sporting interests.

 

Who can nominate Assets of Community Value?

A number of community organisations can nominate land and buildings for inclusion on the list: parish councils, neighbourhood forums (as defined in Neighbourhood Planning regulations), unconstituted community groups of at least 21 members, not-for-private-profit organisations (e.g. charities).

Community organisations also have to have a local connection, which means their activities are wholly or partly concerned with the area, or with a neighbouring authority’s area.

 

Decisions and appeals

If a community organisation nominates land or buildings that meet the definition of an Asset of Community Value, and the nomination process was undertaken correctly (i.e. came from a group entitled to nominate), then the Local Authority must include the asset on its list. Assets will remain on the list for at least 5 years. If the council decides that the nomination doesn’t meet the criteria, then they must write to the group who nominated the asset and provide an explanation. They must also keep a list of unsuccessful nominations for at least 5 years.

 

Moratorium Periods

The Community Right to Bid does not give the right of first refusal to community organisations to buy an asset that they successfully nominate for inclusion on the local authority’s list.

What it does do is give time for them to put together the funding necessary to bid to buy the asset on the open market. If an owner wants to sell property/land that is on the list, they must tell the local authority.

If the nominating body is keen to develop a bid, they can then call for the local authority to trigger a moratorium period, during which time the owner cannot proceed to sell the asset.

There are two moratorium periods. Both start from the date the owner of the asset tells the local authority of their intention to sell.

The first is the interim moratorium period, which is 6 weeks, during which time a community organisation can decide if they want to be considered as a potential bidder.

The other is a full moratorium period, which is six months, during which a community organisation can develop a proposal and raise the money required to bid to buy the asset.

The regulations list some situations where the Moratorium will not be applied, even when it is an Asset of Community Value on the list. These exceptions include the sale of assets from one partner or another (for example in a divorce).

 

Funding

In August 2012, the government announced grant funding which community organisations can apply for in order to make use of the Community Right to Bid or Community Asset Transfer. The Social Investment Business is managing the £16 million grants programme ‘Community Ownership and Management of Assets’ on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

 

Full document:

https://mycommunity.org.uk/files/downloads/Understanding-the-Community-Right-to-Bid.pdf

 

Note:

It is possible that the land in Meadow Way, now owned by Highways England (?), alongside the lane to Trumper’s Field, might be able to be included in a Community Right to Bid – either the Trumper’s Field one or a separate one. 

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