Councils should use compulsory purchase powers to help charities buy buildings and turn them into community resources, according to the latest guidance from the Communities and Local Government department.
The guidance says local authorities should respond formally to any voluntary sector requests for compulsory purchase, giving the reasons behind their decisions.
Greg Clark, the decentralisation minister, said he wanted to help community groups campaigning to save local assets, such as pubs, piers and markets, particularly if those assets were lying derelict and could be returned to community use.
"Communities often feel powerless when they see local assets going to waste," he said. "Voluntary and community groups that know their areas best should have more of a say in determining how their neighbourhoods develop. Local authorities should take seriously all viable requests put to them for the compulsory purchase of threatened community assets.
"Community groups would, of course, have to pay a fair price for assets, as well as the costs incurred by the local authorities. But they should be given the opportunity to save their village shop or the last remaining pub, or to bring dilapidated buildings back to life."