1) Community Empowerment -Rights Summary

Community Rights –Summary
At Cara Community Services we believe in community empowerment. We believe in supporting local groups improve both the built and natural environment by providing a wide range of professional services that help navigate through obstacles. Examples of our approach is how we use our knowledge and research to further human advancement in economic ,housing,health,social care and environmental needs.

The Localism Act 2011 has created new rights and opportunities which give communities, voluntary and charity groups the opportunity to take the initiative on such areas when it comes to how local public services are run and planning decisions are made.  We are offering support to groups who want to use these new rights – providing information & guidance, funding & project assistance and support to ensure it happens.

Community Right to Bid
The Community Right to Bid will give community groups the right to prepare and bid to buy community buildings and facilities that are important to them. It came into effect on 21 September 2012.

Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge from 2012 allows voluntary and community groups, charities, parish councils and local authority staff to bid to run the whole or part of a local authority service..

Neighbourhood planning

New neighbourhood planning measures from 2012 allow communities to shape new development by coming together to prepare neighbourhood plans. .

Community Right to Build
The Community Right to Build from 2012 allows local communities to propose small-scale, site-specific, community-led developments.

Community Right to Reclaim Land
The Community Right to Reclaim Land helps communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that under-used or unused land owned by public bodies is brought back into beneficial use.

Our Place!
This programme (formerly ‘neighbourhood community budgets’) gives communities the opportunity to take control of dealing with local issues in their area.

Background
The Localism Bill was given Royal Assent on 15 November 2011 enshrining community rights. The Community Right to Build is part of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations. Secondary legislation was required to bring the Community Right to Challenge into force:

  • The Community Right to Challenge (Fire and Rescue Authorities and Rejection of Expressions of Interest) (England) Regulations 2012
  • The Community Right to Challenge (Expressions of Interest and Excluded Services) (England) Regulations 2012

The Assets of Community Value Regulations, which provide the detail of how the Community Right to Bid will operate came into force in October 2012.Legislation covering the referendum stage of neighbourhood planning came into force on 2 August 2012.

How we can assist
At Cara we can assist from setting up a group and developing a proposal right through to the delivery stage. We can liaise with government agencies including: The Homes and Communities Agency which has funds to assist community groups with the costs of using the Community Right to Build and the My Community Rights support hub.There is also funding to support local groups to use the Community Right to Challenge and on the Community Ownership and Management of Assets grants programme.The government provide funding to 4 organisations already offering support on neighbourhood planning:

Local planning authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance to groups undertaking neighbourhood planning. The Cabe Team at the Design Council offer free tailored support to community groups involved in neighbourhood planning.  The Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) also provides information on community-led planning including contact details for the 38 regional members of the Rural Community Action Network.

So if you would like us to provide a tailor made package for your community group or organisation or arrange specific training or simply discuss the issues please contact us. Our discussions are free and as always confidential. Please contact John Brennan on 01803852270 or email john@caracommunity.co.uk.

 

Appendix 1: Community Right to Build
The Community Right to Build allows local communities to undertake small-scale, site-specific, community-led developments. The new powers give communities the freedom to build new homes, shops, businesses or facilities without going through the normal planning application process. The proposals must:

  • have the agreement of more than 50% of local people that vote through a community referendum
  • meet some minimum requirements (for example, they should generally be in line with national planning policies and strategic elements of the local plan)

Members will need to set themselves up as a corporate body with the purpose of furthering the social, economic and environmental well-being of the local community. The developments would then be managed by this corporate body and any benefits must be retained or used for the benefit of the community.

While it will be for communities themselves to identify suitable land, sources of finance and secure local agreement for their proposals, the government is funding a package of support to help communities that want to use the right.

A new fund to assist community groups with the costs of using the right, run by the Homes and Communities Agency. The fund is worth £17.5 million over 3 years, and is for schemes in England excluding London where separate arrangements are in place. There is also a new support hub called My Community Rights managed by Locality. This gives a variety of guidance and practical advice to community groups wishing to use the right.

The Community Right to Build forms part of the neighbourhood planning provisions contained in the Localism Act 2011. It became law on 6 April 2012 as part of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations.

Appendix 2: Community Right to Bid
The Community Right to Bid gives community groups a fairer chance to save assets that are important to them. This could include their:

  • village shop
  • pub
  • community centre
  • children’s centre
  • allotment
  • library
  • cinema
  • recreation ground

The right covers private as well as public assets. Local authorities are required to keep a list of all of these ‘assets of community value’. If an owner of a listed asset wants to sell it they have to notify the local authority. The local authority then, in turn, has to notify any interested parties. If community groups are interested in buying an asset they can use the Community Right to Bid to ‘pause’ the sale, giving them 6 months to prepare a bid to buy it before the asset can be sold.

The Community Right to Bid came into effect on 21 September 2012 and over 3,500 people have used the right to date (April 2014). You can see some examples on the Community Rights Pinterest board. There is a support and advice service run by Locality and the Social Investment Business. They provide free advice and practical help, including grant funding.See the My Community Rights website for more information.

Appendix 3: Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge allows voluntary and community groups, charities, social enterprises, parish councils, local and fire and rescue authority staff to bid to run authority services in whole or part where they believe they can do so differently and better.

Local authorities must consider and respond to written expressions of interest which, if accepted, will trigger a procurement exercise for that service. The interested group will then take part in the procurement exercise, alongside others. Secondary legislation was required to bring the right into force:

Authorities must also take into account statutory guidance about the right.

There is a support and advice service run by Locality and the Social Investment Business. This includes examples of how local authorities are implementing the right and supporting community groups to deliver services. See the My Community Rights website for more information.

Appendix 4: design support for communities

The Design Council, working with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Landscape Institute, the Home Builders Federation have new approaches towards design support for communities published in the Bishop Review and include advice and tool-kits.for communities.

Appendix 5: Community Right to Reclaim Land
The Community Right to Reclaim Land helps communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that under-used or unused land owned by local councils and other public bodies is sold and brought back into use. When land is no longer needed it should be sold, for example, for housing or other development, or for use as public or community spaces. The Community Right to Reclaim Land makes it easier to bring land back into use if it is owned by local authorities or other public bodies such as, for example, the Environment Agency, the BBC or the British Transport police. Schedule 16 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 has a full list of these bodies.

Under the Community Right to Reclaim Land anyone can send a request to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government setting out why they think:

  • land or property described in the request process is under-used or vacant
  • that there are no suitable, consulted upon and publicly tested plans in place or likely to be put in place in an acceptable period of time
  • the land should be disposed of by its current owner in order to enable it to be brought back into use

Once a request has been submitted the Secretary of State for Communities will assess it, which includes finding out from the current owners plans if any.  If the Secretary of State decides the land is vacant and underused and that the council has no plans to bring it into use, they can issue a disposal notice .Disposal will normally (but not automatically) mean that the land is sold on the open market, so community groups or others may be able to acquire the land.The required information is contained in the Public Request to Order Disposal: request form

Right to Contest For land and property held by government departments and arm’s length bodies a request can be made under the Right to Contest to release it for better economic use. Unlike the above  C R R L which covers unused or underused land, the Right to Contest can be used to argue that land currently in use could be put to better economic purpose. The Right to Contest came into force on 8 January 2014. The guide provides more information on how to submit a request or email righttocontest@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

Public sector land programme The government is currently aiming to release public sector land with capacity to deliver up to 100,000 homes by March 2015. From 2015 the Homes and Communities Agency will be acting as the government’s land disposal agency to improve how government sells its land.

Appendix 6: neighbourhood planning
Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure they get the right types of development for their community. Using these new tools, communities will be able to:

  • choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built
  • have their say on what those new buildings should look like
  • grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead

Parish and town councils or neighbourhood forums will lead the creation of neighbourhood plans, supported by the local planning authority. Once written, the plan will be independently examined and put to a referendum of local people for approval.

Appendix 7: Our Place!

The Our Place! programme (formerly ‘neighbourhood community budgets’) gives communities the opportunity to take control of dealing with local issues in their area. This could include:

  • parents who are worried their children don’t have enough to do
  • businesses who are struggling to find local staff with the right skills
  • public servants who need to make their resources stretch further
  • residents who want to make their neighbourhood a better place to live
  • or whatever is the local priority

Using the Our Place! approach means putting the community at the heart of decision making and bringing together the right people – councillors, public servants, businesses, voluntary and community organisations and the community itself – to revolutionise the way a neighbourhood works. Read more about about their successes and lessons learnt.

The government have made available £4.3 million to support operational plans by March 2015 and have appointed Locality to help.The support is likely to be a mix of technical advice and grant funding and other direct help to enable areas to put their operational plans in place. Additional information including quick guides can be found on the My Community Rights website or by emailing the Our Place! team

Appendix 8: barrier busting
In December 2010 the barrier busting website was launched to allow local people to get things done for their local community. These barriers might take the form of rules and regulations or time-consuming bureaucracy. If groups or individuals have done everything reasonably possible to resolve the issue at a local level without success they can contact the central government barrier busting team. The barrier busting team will decide if they can assist, perhaps by re-examining policies, by getting rid of unnecessary requirements, or by working with officials in other government departments.