On the 15th November 2011, the Localism Bill gained Royal Assent from Parliament and became an Act of Law.
The Localism Act provides the legislative framework for the Government’s vision of the Big Society and is intended to devolve power away from central government to local people, communities and councils. The Localism Act includes provisions relating to councils, community empowerment, social housing reform and planning reform. These include new rights and powers for communities and individuals, new freedoms for local government, reforms to the planning system and reforms about local decisions made in relation to housing.
Community Rights, provided in conjunction with powers and duties placed on councils, can enable and empower local people and communities to take more control over the area in which they live and shape their local areas in relation to planning, building development and local service provision.
There are four new rights:
Gives voluntary and community groups, and public sector employees, the right to express an interest in taking over the running of a local service. Local authorities have a duty to consider ‘expressions of interest’ if they will improve the social, economic or environmental well-being of an area.
The challenge could then lead to a procurement exercise for that service where the challenging body can submit a bid alongside other potential providers. Granting local authorities a General Power of Competence will presumably assist public sector employees in setting up mutuals or cooperatives to run certain services themselves or in collaboration with others.
Gives community groups the time to develop bids and raise money to buy public assets that come on to the open market. Local authorities are required to keep a list of assets of community value so that when a building or land comes up for disposal a moratorium comes into effect.
However, at the end of the moratorium period interested community groups will then compete against other interested parties on the open market.
Allows local people to drive forward new developments in their area, where the benefits e.g. profits from letting homes, stay within the community.
Is another reform intended to help communities shape their neighbourhoods. The idea is that people can get together through a local forum or Parish Council and produce their own development plans. Communities can also grant planning permission making it easier for development to go ahead through development orders. Neighbourhood plans will need to be in line with national planning policy and strategic vision for the wider area, and approved by a majority of local people through a referendum.
You can find out more about our current Neighbourhood Projects and how they address localism policy on our website. Further information on the neighbourhood planning process is available in our archives.
Resources and further information
- VAC’s tools and archive provide practical tools and insight in to process and some analysis in the Camden Blueprint report.
- My Community Rights: a website by Locality, providing advice and support on how to use community rights and neighbourhood planning, and how to apply for funding.
- Camden Council: information on the Localism Act and how it affects Camden.
- Asset Transfer Unit: delivered by Locality in association with Community Matters and the Local Government Association, and funded by Communities and Local Government, this website provides detailed information on community asset transfer.
- Department for Communities and Local Government: DCLG works to move decision-making power from central government to local councils.
- Local Government Association: LGA’s localism programme is supporting councils in their central role in reforming public services and lobbying for greater decentralisation and devolution to local government.
Donna Turnbull | Community Development Manager
Tel: 0207 284 6567 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org