Further to my blog post of 17 July, we have now heard that the challenge to the listing of a site as an asset of community value was successful. The Council felt that educational use could be capable of furthering the social wellbeing of the community but accepted that the use must contribute to the social wellbeing of the community as a community rather than just benefiting individuals without playing a greater part in the social fabric of the community in question. The Council was doubtful that private educational use would meet this test (the site had formerly been used as an independent school) and also felt that there was no realistic prospect of the site being acquired and put to a use within the next five years that would further the social wellbeing of the local community.
In its decision, the Council pragmatically commented on the significance of listing a site as an asset of community value. Even if the listing had been successful, it would not have given substantive rights to any community group. Upon any attempt to dispose of the site, a moratorium period would be triggered so that community groups would have a chance to negotiate to purchase the asset but the owner of the site is not obliged to negotiate nor are they obliged to sell at a preferential price.
Regardless of whether a site is listed as an asset of community value, the key issue for any community group is whether they or a third party have the resources to make a sufficiently attractive offer to the owner in order to acquire the site.