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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/youve-got-the-power-a-quick-and-simple-guide-to-community-rights/youve-got-the-power-a-quick-and-simple-guide-to-community-rights
1. Your rights and opportunities
People around the country value and love the places they live in. They want great local public services, to protect the things that make their neighbourhood special and to help their community grow and develop in the right way.
To make sure that you and your neighbours have the community that you aspire to, the government has given you legal powers and new opportunities to preserve what you like and change what you don’t like about the city, town or village you live in.
Whether you want to stop the local shop closing, get more homes built, or improve local public services, this quick and simple guide will point you in the right direction.
2. We’re helping communities to take control
|What do you want to do?||What’s the solution?|
|Have ideas about how your neighbourhood or community should develop?||• Neighbourhood Planning
• Community Right to Build
• Community Infrastructure Levy
|Local places such as pub, shop or community centre closing?||• Asset of Community Value
• Community Right to Bid
• Community Asset Transfer
• Community ownership or management
|Want to raise money for local community projects?||• Community shares
|Think you could run a public service better?||• Community Right to Challenge|
|Want to run your community with your neighbours?||• Establish a parish council
• Establish a forum (if you don’t have a parish council or local authority)
• Write a neighbourhood plan
|Is there a building that your community needs constructing?||• Community-led buildings
• Right to Build Order
|Could you improve the way housing is managed?||• Right to Manage|
|Think you could run a community-led housing development?||• Community-led housing|
|Could you make better use of vacant or underused land or buildings in your community?||• Community Right to Reclaim Land
• Compulsory Purchase Order
3. Getting started
My Community is the home of community-led projects and plans to build and strengthen communities across England. There is information, case studies, funding programmes and grants and one-to-one advice available to help you get started.
Visit MyCommunity.org.uk to find out more.
4. Neighbourhood planning
Have you got ideas about how your neighbourhood should develop? You can shape the future development of your area with a neighbourhood plan.
Neighbourhood planning enables local communities to shape the future of the places where they live and work. Neighbourhood plans have exactly the same legal status as those developed by councils. Residents are directly able to:
- decide where new homes, shops and offices will go
- decide what new buildings look like
- decide what facilities, services and infrastructure is needed
- grant planning permission for new buildings through a Neighbourhood Development Order
Funding and technical support packages are available to help you and your neighbours get started.
Before you decide to go ahead, here are some things to bear in mind:
What it can do: make sure you have a clear understanding of what a neighbourhood plan is and what it can achieve to be sure it is the right thing for your area.
Time commitment: the average length of time to produce a neighbourhood plan is 18-24 months, and it is mostly done by volunteers in your community, though there is funding to pay for expert help where needed.
The complexity of the process: a neighbourhood plan is a legal document and requires detailed research and evidence to create.
Everyone is invited: producing a neighbourhood plan is a community-wide affair. It’s a great opportunity to talk to everyone from children to elders across the area.
Step 1: Getting set up
- check if there is a neighbourhood plan in your area
- contact your town or parish council
- in areas without a town or parish council you will need to set up a neighbourhood forum
Step 2: Determining the neighbourhood area
- decide on the boundary of the area that you want to cover in your neighbourhood plan
- submit the area to your local council for site designation
Step 3: Community consultation and evidence
- writing a neighbourhood plan is about local people deciding what they feel is important for the future of development of their area, so consulting widely with the community is a crucial part of creating a neighbourhood plan
- find out what is important by surveying your local community, holding or attending local events and asking for feedback on ideas or potential policies in your plan
- gather evidence to support your policies through local and national data sources
Step 4: Submitting your plan
- once your draft plan is complete, you will need to submit it to the local authority
- the local authority will appoint an independent planning inspector to examine the plan and make sure it meets basic conditions
- once your plan passes this examination, it will be put forward by your local authority for a public referendum
- a vote of 50% or more will deem the plan will be brought into force by the local authority, where it will become part of the statutory Development Plan for the area, and be consulted when granting planning permission
Read more about neighbourhood planning.
5. Community Right to Build
Want to build something your community can be proud of?
A Community Right to Build Order gives communities the ability to build their own housing, shops or community facilities without going through the traditional planning process. It will help communities deliver small-scale projects, though it can also be used as part of the neighbourhood planning process so communities not only make the decisions but also take responsibility for building what they want.
Step 1: Get together with your neighbours
At least 10 residents must be part of the scheme and you need to register as a legal body before you can proceed. My Community outlines the different types of organisational bodies under ‘Getting Started’.
Step 2: Come up with your ideas
Work with your neighbours to develop a proposal that the community can get behind. You need to work out which area the proposal will apply to and the local planning authority will need to approve this. Then identify suitable land, ensure you have the funding, and work with all interested parties to secure the right result.
Then draft a Community Development Order which shows what you are proposing to build, where it is and how you have arrived at your decision.
Step 3: Submit your plans
An independent examiner will then check your proposal to make sure it fits with national policies and other legal tests – for example on conservation or protection of listed buildings.
Step 4: Vote in a referendum
Your local authority will then organise a referendum for you. If there is a majority ‘yes’ vote then you can start getting ready to build.
Read more about community-led building and the Community Right to Build.
6. Community Right to Bid
Worried about local places that you love – like the pub, shop or community centre closing?
The Community Right to Bid helps to protect locally important community assets. You and your neighbours can nominate any local building or land you love as an Asset of Community Value and then, if it comes up for sale, you have 6 months to raise the funds to buy it. People have used this right to list shops, libraries, football stadiums, community centres and land like parks or riversides.
Step 1: Nominate an Asset of Community Value
Nominating a community asset needs the support of 21 people on the local electoral register. However other groups such as parish councils can also make nominations.
Step 2: List your asset
Many councils now have a form on their website for nominating assets. Over 90% of all nominations are accepted for listing.
Step 3: Up for sale
If the asset comes up for sale, the group who nominated the asset will be informed. There will be a 6-month period where your community has the opportunity to decide whether they would like to come together and purchase the asset.
To trigger this 6-month pause in the sale you’ll need to become an incorporated group. You can of course involve far more people than the original group who nominated the asset. If the building or land is currently publicly owned, talk to your local authority about whether they will accept an offer beneath the market value: this is known as a community asset transfer.
Step 4: Raise the money to buy your asset
There are a variety of ways to do this, for ideas visit Funding Options – Raising Finance. If you raise the required amount and your bid is accepted, the asset is now owned and run by the community.
7. Community shares
Want to raise money for local community projects?
Community shares enable residents to invest financially in community projects. By buying shares and becoming part-owners of a business, local people can become supporters, volunteers and advocates – not just customers – and projects get much needed funding to get started and become financially sustainable.
They can be used to run community farms, establish community shops or purchase solar panels. Not all the funding for the project needs to be raised through shares: you may find that having this base attracts larger private investors too.
Step 1: Develop a business plan
For your venture to succeed and attract financial support it needs to be as professional as possible. Your plan needs to demonstrate that your business will be viable, profitable and sustainable.
Step 2: Engage the community
Gain support from as many people as possible: this creates customers as well as attracting investors.
Step 3: Register your community organisation
To raise capital by issuing shares, you need to set up as an Industrial Provident Society and will need to abide by the rules which govern co-operative societies.
Step 4: Develop a share offer prospectus
This should be a powerful document which inspires people to invest and gives them all the information they need to make that decision.
Step 5: Issue share offer
Once your funding is secure, you can get your community enterprise off the ground.
Read more about Community shares.
8. Community Right to Challenge
Think you could run a local public service in a better way?
The Community Right to Challenge enables communities to bid to take over local services they think they can run differently and better. This might include youth services, parks, libraries, allotments, children’s centres and a whole lot more.
Step 1: Identify the service
Decide which service you want to run and where and how you would make improvements. Perhaps it would make sense to achieve economies of scale through running more than one service: for example running youth services across the district. Ensure you fully understand how it is currently run and what that costs.
Step 2: Make sure your organisation is ready to deliver the service
If successful, your group will have a legal and contractual obligation to deliver the service. Invest time in making sure you are ready for this: that you have the structures, skills and finance in place and ready to go. You may be eligible for government funding to develop the capacity of your organisation. Build a business case, which shows how you will deliver your objectives, cover your costs and improve the service.
Step 3: Submit an expression of interest to your local authority
Your expression of interest will need to be in writing and explain how your proposal will meet the needs of those who will use the service, as well showing that your organisation is suitable to run it. Check your local authority’s website to see whether they take expressions of interest all year round or only during certain periods.
Step 4: Bid to run the service
If the expression of interest is accepted, the authority will put the service out to tender. Your organisation may be in competition with other groups who also want to run the service.
Read more about the Community Right to Challenge.
9. Setting up town and parish councils
Want to run your community with your neighbours?
Town and parish councils are the most grassroots form of local government. Town or parish councils enable people to have a big involvement over a small area. They run everything from job clubs to leisure centres, parks to community cinemas, all on behalf of local people.
Though parish councils have traditionally existed in the countryside, there is no reason why they cannot be established in towns and cities – recently the first parish council for 50 years was established in London. We are making it quicker and easier to set up parish councils and there is government help available for people who want to start one.
Parish councils can also use other rights featured in this document: for example, they can bid to run local services, develop a neighbourhood plan which covers the parish, and list local assets.
Step 1: Draw up the boundaries
These should reflect a common sense ‘feel’ for the community – for example, perhaps it will be centred around the local high street – but also needs to take into account other electoral boundaries.
Step 2: Gather support for your proposal
You need to collect signatures in support of your proposal. How many signatures depends on how many people live in the area.
Step 3: Submit your petition to the principal local authority
A review of community governance is then carried out and a report will recommend either accepting or rejecting your proposal. If accepted, the principal authority will make a ‘reorganisation order’, so that staff or property can be transferred to the new parish council.
Step 4: Arrangements are made for elections to be held for the new parish council
In the meantime, a shadow or temporary council may be set up.
See the National Association of Local Councils website for more benefits and advice.
10. Community Right to Reclaim Land
Think that land in your community could be better used?
Across the country there are significant amounts of land, owned by public bodies, which are vacant or derelict and which could be better used for housing, business or parks. The Community Right to Reclaim Land enables individuals, community groups and other organisations, including developers, to ask that it be brought back into use and even bid to buy it.
Step 1: Check that the land you are concerned about is publicly owned
You can establish who the registered owner of the land is by contacting your local authority or HM Land Registry.
Step 2: Fill in a Public Request to Order Disposal (PROD) form
You will need to set out evidence making a case for why the land should be sold off and also make suggestions as to how it should be used. See further information and the form.
Step 3: Send this completed form to:
Or it can be posted to:
The National Planning Casework Team
5 St Philip’s Place
Step 4: Your request will be considered by the Secretary of State
Local authorities can compulsorily purchase derelict/disused land and buildings if they cannot be bought by agreement. If you have ideas to improve land and regenerate your area, but are struggling to reach agreement with the landowner, see if your council can help. If your evidence is solid, the Secretary of State will issue a notice requiring the landowner to sell. This will normally mean that the land is sold on the open market.
Stage 5: Put a bid together
You and your community will have an opportunity to purchase the land on the open market. Discuss your proposals with the existing landowner: they may be prepared to sell at less than market value.
Read more about the Community Right to Reclaim Land.