A local authority must put an asset on the list as being of community value if:

  • there has been a valid nomination;
  • the site is in the Council’s area;
  • there is an actual current use of the site (or has been one in the recent past) which furthers the "social wellbeing or social interests" of the local community and which is not an “ancillary use”; and
  • it is realistic to think that this use can (or could) continue.

Two recent decisions from the First Tier Tribunal on appeals in relation to listing have shed some – if not very much – light on the third point above, the question of use.

In General Conference of the New Church v Bristol City Council, the property in question was a church building with some land around it.  In the recent past, as well as for worship and church activity, the church had been used by mums and toddler groups, Brownies, and other community organisations (though this use had dropped off).  When the church closed (because the congregation had, sadly, dwindled to single figures) the General Conference proposed to sell the site.  A local community group, keen to preserve both the building and the surrounding green space, nominated the site as an asset of community value.

The local authority agreed, and the General Conference appealed the decision.  The Tribunal found in favour of the General Conference, on the basis that the use of the site was as a church – all other uses were, and always had been, ancillary to that use.

In Dorset County Council v Purbeck District Council, the listing application concerned playing fields which were adjacent to a school.  Community groups used the playing fields in addition to their use by the school, though until very recently access was only through the school site.  The school closed and community use continued – indeed a new entrance was created to allow direct access.  The County Council decided it would be more sensible to sell the site and re-provide playing fields nearer the successor schools.  Again, local groups applied to list the site; again, the responsible Council (Purbeck DC) agreed; and again, there was an appeal to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal found for the owner, and said that the use by community groups had always been ancillary to the main use by the school.  The deciding arbiter reviewed the guidance and noted, quite rightly, that “there is no certain guidance or touchstone” in deciding these issues.

However, these two cases appear to indicate a relatively cautious approach to deciding on whether assets should be listed or not.  In the General Conference case, the Tribunal did not, seemingly, consider the question of whether use as a church was, in and of itself, a use that could further the “social wellbeing” of the community (and there is surely an argument to be had that it could).  Nor, in the Dorset case, did the Tribunal consider whether use as a school be held to further social wellbeing.

In both cases, the Tribunal made it clear that the matter was being decided on the facts.  Nonetheless, when it comes to community value, it is clear that there remains much room for debate.

For more information

Contact David Alcock.

The spread of necrotising fasciitis
The spread of necrotising fasciitis

Necrotising Fasciitis, more commonly known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a significant medical condition that requires urgent treatment.

Richard Handley Inquest
Richard Handley Inquest

Many of us who have been following the unfolding Inquest, are not surprised that the Coroner found gross and significant failures on the part of those caring for him.

Recovery of fire safety costs from leaseholders
Recovery of fire safety costs from leaseholders

In all the action to remove defective cladding, leaseholders have been the elephant in the room. Whilst social landlords might have adopted a wait and see approach private landlords do not have that luxury.

Transforming Business
Transforming Business

We welcome the Labour Party’s commitment to doubling the size of the co-operative economy. We wholeheartedly support the ambition to grow this vitally important part of the economy.

Converting to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation
Converting to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

It was first referred to in the Charities Act 2006 (which was subsequently replaced by the Charities Act 2011) but it has finally been announced that charitable companies are able to convert to a charitable incorporated organisation (“CIO”).

Impact of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill
Impact of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill

The Private Members Bill Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 now has Government support and was debated at second reading on Friday 19 January 2018.