Community right to buy proposal is 'in jeopardy', warns Locality

Locality fears parliament could 'make nonsense of the entire provisions' in Localism Bill being debated today


A proposed new law to make it easier for community groups to buy land is "in jeopardy" because of widespread misconceptions about how it would work, the community umbrella body Locality has warned.

The community 'right to buy' is one of the major proposals in the Localism Bill, due to be debated by the Lords today.

However, Locality said in a briefing that the organisation fears the Lords could make a "nonsense" of the provision because of concern over how much it will inconvenience landowners.

The briefing said the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), which represents owners of rural land, business and properties, had warned that the bill would discourage voluntary offers of land for community use.

The CLA has also complained that landowners would be disadvantaged by the six-month moratorium on sale of land, which the bill allows community organisations to request. It wants a three-month ceiling.

In the briefing, Locality said it did not believe these objections were valid.

In particular, it said that if the length of the moratorium period was reduced, it would "make nonsense of the entire provisions" because it would leave such a short period of time to raise funds that community groups would be completely unable to do so.

It said the bill was already limited in its scope and did not give groups the right to force a sale, or the right to first refusal if a community asset is listed for sale.

"We hope the House of Lords will take a larger view, of the wider community and public benefits which will be produced by the community right to buy proposals, and will not allow the narrow views of a vested-interest minority to derail these proposals," the briefing says.

In response to Locality’s comments, the Communities and Local Govenment department issued a statement, saying: "The Localism Bill includes new rights for local communities, including the community right to buy and the community right to challenge.

"The detailed approach will be established through regulation and guidance. To assist in developing the detail we have consulted on both rights.

"The consultation process has now closed and the department will be responding in due course."

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