Ruscombe Chapel and School Room were registered as a Asset of Community Value in April 2015.
The Congregational Federation resolved to put the building up for sale, which means it has to go through the process under the Localism Act legislation.
Once a community asset has been successfully nominated as an asset of community value, the next stage of the Right to Bid process is triggered when and if the owner wishes to dispose of the freehold, or leasehold of at least 25 years.
The owner who wants to sell an asset of community value which appears on the local authority’s list must notify the local authority of their intention to do so. The land is registered as a Local Land Charge. Community interest groups will then have six weeks to lodge a non-binding expression of interest, in which case a window of opportunity of six months, will come into effect to delay the sale.
The full moratorium period exists to afford community interest groups sufficient time to prepare and raise money to bid for the property, potentially in competition with other interested parties.
Unlike the wider range of bodies that can nominate an asset for listing, any bid for the asset in the initial six week moratorium period can only be submitted by a non-profit distributing community interest group – i.e. a legally constituted organisation such as a charity, a company limited by guarantee, an Industrial and Provident Society, a Community Interest Company (CIC) or a Parish Council. Other than a parish council, all the other bodies take time to be constituted and become effective. It is therefore advantageous for them to be set up prior to the moratorium, rather than wait for the sale to be announced.
During the moratorium period, the owner may market and pursue discussions about the sale with whomever they choose, but may not exchange contracts other than with a community interest group. However, it is important to understand that there is no right of first refusal for a community interest group. In fact the asset could be sold to an alternative community group during the activated moratorium period. At the end of the moratorium period the owner will be free to sell to whomever they wish, at the price they wish to accept. If a bid is not made by a community interest group, the owner will not be subject to a further moratorium for a protected period of 18 months.
Questionnaires were distributed with the WaRbler
The Congregational Federation informed Stroud District Council they wished to sell the property and a letter of notification was sent to the Parish Council:
An Open event was held on February 4th 2018, with results from the questionnaire and event collated:
At the Parish Council meeting on Thursday 8th February, Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish Council resolved to express an interest to bid for the property and will look at producing 2 business plans, with the assistance of local volunteers who wish to form a management group, to look at the Community Hub element and an affordable housing Community Land Trust element. These plans will look at the viability of both options before any resolution is made to bid for the property.