The umbrella body Locality has urged cash-strapped councils to transfer buildings and land to communities rather than "flog them off" to generate short-term revenue.
Locality, which is a national network of community organisations, yesterday published Building Powerful Communities Through Community Asset Transfer, a guide for councillors on how and why they should transfer community assets.
Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said he acknowledged that local authorities faced enormous financial pressures, but added: "While flogging off our community assets might generate income in the short term, once these spaces are lost they are lost forever."
Armstrong said community asset transfer – whereby councils transfer buildings and land to community ownership at less than the market value – was a "proven route to protecting cherished spaces" that "put genuine power in the hands of communities".
A recent YouGov poll commissioned by Locality found that 71 per cent of people felt they had not much or no control over the important decisions that affected their neighbourhoods and local communities.
Power to Change, a trust that supports community businesses, has calculated that £7bn worth of the £105.7bn of buildings, land and assets owned by local authorities could be suitable for community asset transfer.
Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change, which helped to produce the guide, said community centres, libraries, swimming pools and town halls were suitable for transfer because they were places where "people come together as communities, meet their neighbours and take their children".
She said: "Some councils have shown great vision in transferring assets successfully, but many more need to follow suit."
Alakeson urged councillors to download the guide and use it to consider how community asset transfer could work in their areas.