This morning I attended a hearing to review a decision to list a piece of land as an asset of community value. The land was previously used as a school but is now empty with all buildings having been demolished. A request to review the decision was made on the basis that the relevant legal tests of s.88(2) Localism Act 2011 had not been met, namely that:
- the former use of the site did not further the social wellbeing or interests of the local community; and
- it is not realistic to think that the land would be used in a way that would further the social wellbeing or interests of the local community within the next five years.
Members of the public were invited to speak first, followed by submissions objecting to the listing of the site and a response to those submissions from the body that nominated the site for listing. As the relevant regulations have only been in force since September of last year, it was relatively unchartered territory for all those involved. There was therefore quite a bit of debate over the meaning of terms used in the legislation, in particular the term "social wellbeing or interests" and how this is distinct from a generic benefit to the community.
A decision is expected by the end of next week so we shall keep you posted.