Hello, I’m Mike Deegan, and I recently had the privilege of leading a webinar titled "Assets of Community Value: From a Local Council Perspective" on Scribe Academy.
In this blog, I aim to distil some of the key teachings from the webinar into practical tips and strategies for managing community assets effectively. My experience in this area has shown me that understanding and leveraging Assets of Community Value (ACVs) can make a significant difference in enhancing local communities. Here, we’ll explore how Town and Parish Councils can navigate this often complex terrain, maximising the social and economic benefits of their local assets.
So, let's dive into the world of ACVs and uncover some essential tips and tricks to empower our local councils and communities.
Section 1: Understanding the Basics of ACVs
As we delve into the world of Assets of Community Value (ACVs), it's crucial to grasp what they entail and why they're so important for our local councils
What are ACVs?
At its core, an Asset of Community Value is either land or a building that holds significant importance to the local community's social well-being or social interests. This was a key point I highlighted in my webinar at Scribe Academy. Whether it's a local pub, a village shop, a community centre, or even a park, these places often form the heartbeat of our neighbourhoods. Under the 2011 Localism Act, local councils have been empowered to nominate buildings or land as ACVs. When these assets are listed, if they come up for sale or there's a change in ownership, the community is given a crucial opportunity: time to develop a bid and potentially purchase the asset, preserving it for community use.
Why are ACVs Important?
The significance of ACVs cannot be overstated. They are not just about preserving buildings or land; they are about maintaining and enhancing the community spirit, providing essential services, and fostering a sense of belonging. These spaces often host events, provide essential services, and act as a meeting point for residents, playing an integral role in the local economy and social life.
The ACV Nomination Process
Nominating an asset as an ACV involves a collaborative process between the community and the local council. This process requires a thorough understanding of the asset's value to the community, including its current use and potential future benefits. It's about building a compelling case that clearly articulates why this asset is indispensable to the local community.
The Power of Community Involvement
When communities come together to identify and nominate assets of value, it not only strengthens the nomination but also fosters a deeper connection among residents. This collective effort can lead to more sustainable and community-focused development.
In summary, understanding ACVs is the first step in harnessing their potential for the benefit of our communities.
Section 2: The Role of Town and Parish Councils in ACV Nomination
Town and Parish Councils have the unique position and responsibility to nominate land or buildings as ACVs. This process begins with a deep understanding of what makes an asset valuable to the community. It's about looking beyond the physical structure to its role in enhancing the social fabric of the area. Whether it’s a beloved local pub, a historical village shop, or a vital community centre, these places hold more than just economic value; they are pivotal in nurturing the community's spirit and heritage.
The nomination process requires a strategic approach. It involves gathering detailed information about the asset, including its history, current use, and the potential impact on the community if it were lost. This step is crucial and demands meticulous attention to detail. Councils must then submit this information, along with compelling reasons for the asset's community value, to the relevant local authority. I believe in the importance of harnessing community support. This support not only strengthens the nomination but also ensures that the council's efforts are in sync with the community's needs and aspirations.
Town and Parish Councils are the guardians of local heritage and community values. Their proactive involvement in the ACV nomination process is essential for preserving the assets that are the lifeblood of our communities.
Section 3: Strategies for Successful ACV Management
it's vital to approach ACV Management with a strategic and community-focused mindset. From my discussions during the Scribe Academy webinar, I’ve distilled these into key, easy-to-follow strategies:
In-Depth Understanding of the Asset:
It's crucial to fully comprehend both the current and potential future value of the ACV. This involves not only recognising its role in the community but also forecasting its potential developments. Regular engagement with the community is essential in this step, as it ensures the asset continues to meet the evolving needs and aspirations of the people it serves.
Continuous Community Engagement:
Successful management is rooted in ongoing dialogue with the community. This can be achieved through regular meetings, surveys, and open forums. These engagements keep the council aligned with public opinion and open to innovative ideas, ensuring that the ACV remains a true reflection of the community's values and needs.
Developing a Robust Business Plan:
For ACVs operating in a business capacity, like local pubs or community centres, it’s important to create a detailed business plan. This plan should cover operational strategies, financial planning, and sustainability measures, balancing commercial viability with the community's objectives.
Exploring Diverse Funding Sources:
Ensuring financial stability for ACVs is a key aspect of management. This involves identifying and tapping into various funding opportunities, including grants, community fundraisers, and strategic partnerships. Diverse funding sources can provide the financial backbone needed for the long-term success and preservation of these community assets.
By implementing these strategies, Town and Parish Councils can effectively manage their ACVs, ensuring these assets continue to benefit and enrich the community well into the future.
Section 4: Overcoming Challenges and Limitations
In managing Assets of Community Value (ACVs), Town and Parish Councils often face various challenges and limitations. My experience has taught me that understanding these hurdles is the first step towards overcoming them.
A primary challenge is the bureaucratic and legal complexities involved in the ACV process. Navigating these intricacies requires not just a keen understanding of the law but also the patience to deal with paperwork and regulatory requirements. It's essential for councils to either develop this expertise internally or seek external legal advice to ensure compliance and smooth operations.
Another significant limitation is related to funding. Securing financial resources for acquiring and managing ACVs can be daunting. Councils must be adept at identifying and applying for various grants and funding opportunities, such as the Community Ownership Fund. Additionally, innovative fundraising strategies, like community crowdfunding or partnership models, can be effective in bridging financial gaps.
Perhaps the most profound challenge is maintaining community engagement and support throughout the process. It's crucial to keep the community involved and informed, making them feel a part of the journey. This includes addressing their concerns, celebrating successes together, and being transparent about the limitations and challenges faced.
By acknowledging and proactively addressing these challenges, Town and Parish Councils can enhance their ability to manage ACVs effectively, ensuring these assets continue to serve as integral parts of their communities.
Section 5: Funding and Resources for ACV Projects
Securing adequate funding and resources is a critical aspect of successfully managing Assets of Community Value (ACVs). Navigating the financial landscape can be challenging, but with the right approach, it is certainly achievable.
One key avenue for funding is the Community Ownership Fund, which has been a game-changer for many councils. This fund offers substantial support for projects aimed at preserving community assets. Councils should also explore other grants and funding opportunities, including local government schemes and national programs that support community development initiatives. It's crucial to stay informed about the latest funding opportunities and to understand the specific criteria and application processes.
Another effective strategy is community-based fundraising. Engaging the community not only in the decision-making process but also in the fundraising efforts can lead to a stronger sense of ownership and support for the project. Crowdfunding, local fundraising events, and partnerships with local businesses can all contribute significantly to the financial health of ACV projects.
By leveraging these funding sources and fostering community involvement in fundraising, Town and Parish Councils can gather the necessary resources to bring their ACV projects to fruition, ensuring that these valuable assets are preserved and managed effectively for the benefit of the entire community.
Section 6: The Future of ACVs in Local Governance
As we look towards the future, the role of Assets of Community Value (ACVs) in local governance is poised to become increasingly significant.
The future of Assets of Community Value (ACVs) in local governance is undeniably promising. With evolving policies, I foresee more efficient ways for Town and Parish Councils to manage ACVs, supported by advanced legislation and increased funding. Additionally, the integration of technology and innovative practices, like digital platforms for community engagement, will enhance how we manage and finance ACVs. This progress will amplify the impact of ACVs on community well-being and growth. For councils, staying informed, adaptable, and aligned with community needs is key to harnessing the evolving potential of ACVs.
As we wrap up our exploration of Assets of Community Value, We've navigated the essentials of ACVs, from their nomination to sustainable management, and glimpsed into their promising future in local governance. For Town and Parish Councils, managing these assets is a journey of commitment and collaboration. As we move forward, it's essential to work closely with our communities, ensuring these valuable assets continue to enrich our local areas. Together, we can safeguard the legacy of our community assets for future generations.
Thanks for reading
Got Questions? Hopefully, these FAQs can help
Question: If a piece of land is registered as an ACV, does the moratorium period apply the same for leasehold land as it does for freehold?
Answer: Yes, the moratorium period applies similarly for both leasehold and freehold land.
The Localism Act sets out a definition of the owner; so that only one level of legal proprietary rights qualifies as ownership for the purposes of the Asset of Community Value legislation. This is the freeholder; or if the asset is leased, the leaseholder whose original term was at least 25 years.
Question: Can a site that's been acquired and found to be contaminated, and is costly to maintain, be turned into an ACV? Can a community group get funding to purchase and maintain it?
Answer: Unless there are any caveats on the tenure, then a Parish Council is able to sell a site as an ACV to a community group. And yes, the community group (or the Parish Council if it retains the land) could get funding if it meets the Community Ownership Fund criteria.
Question: Is it possible to apply for a Community Ownership Fund grant for the complete rebuild of a village hall?
Answer: Yes, projects that demonstrate the potential to preserve a community asset's value are eligible.
Question: Is the Community Ownership Fund only applicable to assets listed as ACVs?
Answer: No, assets do not need to be listed as ACVs to be eligible for this fund.
Question: How can a neighbourhood plan provide protection to assets not listed under a community asset register?
Answer: Including assets in your neighbourhood plan offers protection, as they must be recognized in planning applications, offering a level of safeguarding.
Question: If a local authority lists a community building for disposal, can it be registered as an ACV by a parish council wanting to take it over?
Answer: It's advisable to first try the community asset transfer process with the local authority before considering ACV registration.
Question: Can listing a farm as an ACV be used to slow down its sale process?
Answer: Listing as an ACV can provide a 6-month window, but it's important to consider the relationship with the landowner.
Question: If a bid for an ACV is turned down during the 6-month period, is it possible to submit a second bid?
Answer: Yes, multiple bids can be made within the 6-month period.
Question: What does the 18-month protected period entail?
Answer: It's the time after the 6-month moratorium. The owner can sell to anyone in the remaining year without additional moratorium periods.
Get in touch
🔎Visit Mike Deegan Consulting for more information and to get started on your journey towards successful community development.
🎥 Click here to watch the original Scribe Academy Webinar: Assets of Community Value: From a Local Council Perspective presented by Mike Deegan