Community Rights - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

1  Introduction


1. In 2010 the Coalition Government outlined plans to "promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups".[1] Later that year the Government said:

    We believe that the freedom of local communities to run their own affairs in their own way should be seen as a right to be claimed, not a privilege to be earned. The Coalition will embody this principle as a series of specific rights that can be exercised on the initiative of local people.[2]

2. Our inquiry looked at four of these community rights:

·  the Community Right to Bid;

·  the Community Right to Build;

·  the Community Right to Challenge; and

·  the Community Right to Reclaim Land.

The first three rights were included in the Localism Act 2011 and came into operation between April and September 2012. The Community Right to Reclaim Land is based on the Public Request to Order Disposal process, which dates from 1980. It has been referred to as a community right since 2011.[3] The Community Right to Bid has been by far the most popular community right.[4]

3. Our report takes each right in turn and considers:

·  the awareness, use and operation of the right; and

·  if necessary, how the right might be changed.

Finally, we consider community engagement over the next few years, including how awareness and use of community rights could be improved. Our inquiry's full terms of reference are online, together with a list of witnesses and oral evidence session dates.[5] Thanks are due to those who gave written and oral evidence. We single out the management team of The Ivy House in Nunhead, south London—the subject of the first successful acquisition under the Right to bid—for meeting us and allowing us to hold an evidence session on their premises.

4. The Government has said it intends to undertake post-legislative scrutiny of the Community Rights in 2015.[6] Our report therefore makes recommendations on:

·  what the Government should do now; and

·  what the Government should consider as part of its review.

1   HM Government, The Coalition: our programme for government, May 2010, p 11 Back

2   HM Government, Decentralisation and the Localism Bill: an essential guide, December 2010, p 7 Back

3   Assets of Community Value, Standard Note, SN0636, House of Commons Library, August 2013, p 8 Back

4   See chapter 2. Back

5   Communities and Local Government Committee, 'Community Rights', accessed 9 December 2014  Back

6   Department for Communities and Local Government (CRS 039) Back

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Prepared 3 February 2015