Monday, 18 November 2013

Free Wi-Fi coming to Farnborough Town Centre

Coming to Farnborough soon

Your local Councillors are not only keen to personally keep in touch with residents using the latest cutting edge technology, but are please to support the introduction of free Wi-Fi in our town centre that will help residents stay in touch with us and each other.

This is being funded by our town centre partners and the council, and will hopefully be completed in time for Christmas. 

Working all year round for residents - not just election time.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Save the Tumble Down Dick Campaign - Invitation

Save the Tumble Down Dick - Cromwellian irony

No-one can deny the Campaign to "save" the Tumble Down Dick was run with enthusiasm and dedication, and dare I say obsession by some. When you need to get something done, having a few obsessive people about is not unhelpful.

Some serious fundraising was done to raise the £m plus needed to buy and run the Tumble Down Dick. Public appeals were made, gigs were organised, and I am sure lots of money has been raised as a consequence given the public support claimed by the campaign.

Given this money is public money, it only right and proper, that there should be open and transparent accountability of this money. Three questions need to be addressed:

1. How much money in total has been raised?
2. Who is responsible for this money?
3. What are the plans for the use of this money?

I would also like to extend a serious and genuine invitation to the Campaign leadership to work with the local authority to pool resources and find a suitable location in Farnborough for a live music venue.

Let us put the past behind us, and look together to the future

Friday, 8 November 2013

Runways End

RIBA regional award 2013

Runways End

I was really pleased to learn recently that Hampshire’s Property Services Department has been awarded two 2013 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Awards for building design quality for Runways End Outdoor Activity Centre in Aldershot – the RIBA Regional Award 2013 and RIBA South East Sustainability Award. The RIBA Awards are given for buildings that have a high architectural quality and make a substantial contribution to the local environment.

Roadworks in Farnborough

Roadworks in Farnborough
As part of the programme of works being undertaken by Operation Resilience HCC will be undertaking kerb & footway repairs prior to carriageway resurfacing at the junction of Peabody & Lynchford Road. The works are programmed to start on 11 November 2013 and are expected to last for 2 days. In order to undertake the works safely the road will be closed one way to traffic turning into Peabody road from Lynchford Road between 9:00 and 16:30 hrs. A diversion route will be signposted to maintain resident’s access.

The carriageway resurfacing works are yet to be programmed and details will follow once a date has been agreed.

Information signs advising road users of the works will be erected before the start of works and a letter will be dropped to local residents.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Councillor Clifford is Innocent!!

BBC1’s Garrow’s Law: Tales from the Old Bailey. Garrow would have been on my side

Dear Cllr Clifford,

I understand that you may be already aware that complaints had been made, so I just want to confirm that I received five complaints from members of the public all expressing anger with the content of your blog posts relating to the Tumbledown Dick decision and one also alleged undue influence on the planning process itself.

In my capacity as Monitoring Officer I have looked into these complaints and have come to the conclusion that the content of your personal blog is not a matter covered by the Code of Conduct for Councillors which relates only to actions undertaken in a member’s official capacity as a councillor.

I have looked into the other matters raised and have concluded that there is nothing to suggest that you acted other than in accordance with recommended practice, and of course you are not a member of the Development Control Committee so took no part in the decision made. 

I have now informed the complainants that we will not be taking any further action in respect of these complaints.

Kind regards
Solicitor to the Council and Monitoring Officer

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tumble Down Dick "Call In" dismissed

Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government  has decided against calling in the Tumbledown Dick Planning Application:

“The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as
set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26 October 2012. The
policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very
selectively. The Government is committed to give more power to councils and
communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning
decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.

The Secretary of State has carefully considered the impact of the proposal, and the
key planning policy issues which this case raises. In his opinion, the proposals do
not: involve a conflict with national policies on important matters; have significant
long term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider
area than a single local authority; have significant effects beyond their immediate
locality; give rise to substantial cross boundary or national controversy; raise
significant architectural and urban design issues; or involve the interests of national
security or of foreign Governments. Nor does he consider that there is any other
sufficient reason to call the application in for his own determination. He has
therefore decided the application should be determined at local level, and has not
called it in. The decision as to whether to grant planning permission will therefore
remain with Rushmoor Borough Council."

Planning consent has been signed and issued.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Mystic Ed

If McDonald's could name towns....

Good to see a resident with a sense of humour and talent to airbrush facts - I'm lovin it
Sent to me by a resident. No comments taken on this one. 

This, like most art, should be left to be enjoyed, considered and absorbed in quiet contemplation and reflection.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Music Venue for Farnborough? organise live band events

Having closed the post on the Tumble Down Dick as the comments were getting repetitive, I am keen to move the debate onward not backward. One thing that was evident was the disappointment in losing a live band venue. 

I am 150% in favour of a live music venue in Farnborough, and would welcome feedback and ideas as to how we accomplish such a worthy aspiration for the town.

It would be good to have a cultural venue for music and other arts etc in a location with good access and easy parking. Could the Community Center be expanded, or rebuilt? Is there room for a new build in the area, if so where? What other options are there?

The Council has no current plans - this is just a local Councillor considering what options would be of interest. 

Is there interest?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

McDonald's saves TD Dick

Artist impression of the restored Tumble Down Dick & cleaned up site

Last night the Development Control Committee, chaired by the young, talented and Tory Cllr Gareth Lyons had the task of considering the application to convert the Tumbledown Dick into a McDonalds restaurant and drive-through, which had been recommended by Rushmoor Planning officers for approval.   

The meeting was, as expected, well attended by a little over 100 members of the public. Given the hype I was surprised there were no television crews present other than a cameraman from the poorly read Aldershot / Farnborough News Group (part of the Guardian group I believe) - I understand they have put details on their web site which I assume has more readers than their local rag.  I have nothing against the local paper - just find it incredibly boring and unimaginative to the point I have stopped buying it. The Council also have details on their web site -

The report prepared by officers was comprehensive and precisely set out the issues. The Chairman, Cllr Lyon, handled the meeting extremely professionally. Fran Beauchamp, Chair of the Friends of the TDD, spoke against the application and a representative from McDonalds spoke in favour.  After a discussion the recommendation was approved 7 for and 3 against which means the plans can now go ahead. Which means McD now saves the TD Dick

I for one will be extremely pleased to see the area cleaned up at last, and the site used and enjoyed by local families. I'm lovin it....

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A note from my mate Daniel Hannan

There was a telling row in the chamber of the European Parliament last week. Martin Callanan, superb leader of the European Conservatives, had mortified MEPs by declaring that ‘patriotism is healthy’. Outraged, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, declared that Martin was likely to lose his own seat, because of a surge by Ukip.

Now ask yourself this. Why would the ultra-federalist Mr Barroso be talking up Ukip at the expense of the Tories? Why did the unelected Eurocrat-in-chief take the exceptional step of wading directly into the party politics of a member state?

The answer is clear enough. While Mr Barroso detests Nigel Farage, he doesn’t fear his success. Nigel (whom I like and admire) won’t be in a position to cut the EU budget, or repatriate powers, or impose benefits caps on EU migrants. David Cameron is already doing all these things. Ukip won’t be in a position to deliver a referendum on leaving the EU; the Tories could.

Ukip says all the right things, but can’t make them happen. The Conservatives are more modest in what they promise, but are already delivering.

Ultimately, the solution will have to be some kind of accommodation between the two Right-of-Centre parties. In the meantime, Mr Barroso has unwittingly given my party a great slogan: ‘Vote Conservative – it’s what the Eurocrats fear most’.

This being my first bulletin since the summer, let me take the opportunity to thank all the South East Tories who voted to put me at the head of the Conservative list for next year’s election. And thanks, come to that, to those who didn’t: in the current climate, I am grateful to anyone who chooses to become involved in politics. Even Lefties – though some of them would, as this piece suggests, feel better if they tried to hate a little less:

Friday, 26 July 2013

Tumble Down Dick Artist impressions

Councillors wishes to retain as much historical character have been listened to by McDonald's

The Tumble Down Dick almost looks respectable. I personally like the idea of opening up the vista into the back. A very convenient venue to meet residents perhaps?

Link to application to follow

Firgrove Parade - latest position

Firgrove Parade – Rushmoor Borough Council’s position 26.07.13

There have been a significant number of posts to our Facebook page (Rushmoor Borough Council) and other pages over the last couple of days about the removal of the trees at Firgrove Parade, Farnborough, as part of the redevelopment of the site by the landowner, Bride Hall.

There are too many comments for us to be able to respond individually but we do recognise that emotions are running high and that there are strong feelings about the loss of the trees.

We have also seen a number of inaccurate claims and allegations made about the Council and individual members of staff relating to Firgrove Parade and we understand that some of these are a result of those strong feelings.

We have previously published statements setting out our position on both Firgrove Parade and its trees, but we would like to respond to the latest comments with further clarification.

Sale of Firgrove Parade
The council identified Firgrove Parade as a potential redevelopment site in the 1980s, providing a key gateway into the town centre.

It sold the site in 1987 to Bride Hall for £600,000 plus an obligation on the landowner to pay further sums on any future redevelopment of the land.

A restrictive covenant was put in place to secure payment of these further sums on any future development. 

The covenant was not intended to prevent redevelopment or protect green space.

Revised financial arrangements
Given that 25 years have since passed, the Council renegotiated the financial arrangements with the landowner earlier this year.

Under the new arrangements, the Council – and therefore the people of the borough – will receive 25% of any increase in value of the Firgrove Parade site following redevelopment. 

As part of that arrangement, the Council will also receive a nominal £1,000 payment up front.

This £1,000 has caused some confusion. To be clear, the Council did not sell the land for £1,000 nor did we release the existing covenant for £1,000. 

As we’ve said previously, we sold the land for £600,000 (plus the arrangements to receive further sums) in 1987. We agreed to replace the existing covenant with a new restriction to secure the revised financial arrangements, with a nominal £1,000 'up front'. 

We took independent valuation advice on these revised financial arrangements and the Cabinet agreed that they would only be put in place if planning consent was obtained.

Our position on the redevelopment of Firgrove Parade and our planning policies
As we’ve already said, we identified Firgrove Parade as a potential redevelopment site in the 1980 and our position since then has been consistent and reflected in our planning policies for Farnborough town centre.

Most recently, we identified Firgrove Parade for potential redevelopment in the town centre masterplan that we published last year following a month of public consultation, to which nearly 300 people responded. 

When we develop planning policies for the borough, we look at how they will best serve our whole population of 94,400.  These policies generally cover the long-term development of the borough and are agreed by the Council following public consultation. We understand that there may be a difference between what is best for the wider population and for individuals and in making decisions on these policies, our councillors aim to strike the right balance.

Firgrove Parade planning application
It can sometimes be difficult for those not closely involved in the Council to understand that we have a number of different roles and take decisions in different capacities. The Cabinet’s decision to agree revised financial arrangements was taken entirely separately from the Development Control’s decision to grant planning consent for Firgrove Parade.

In considering any planning application, the key question is whether the proposed development is in accordance with our development plan.   In the case of Firgrove Parade, Bride Hall’s application met fully with our planning policies for the town centre, as we had previously identified and agreed the site as suitable for redevelopment.  The Council would not have had the right to refuse planning consent for a hotel simply because there is another one close by.

There have been a number of queries about the report provided on the trees at Firgrove Parade.  It is entirely proper for the person applying for planning permission to commission an aboricultural report for consideration by the Council as part of their planning application. This was the case for Firgrove Parade and the report was made publicly available as part of the consultation on the planning application.

Comments and allegations against the Council, its staff and councillors
There have been a number of comments and allegations made about the Council, its staff and councillors relating to Firgrove Parade. Again, we understand that feelings are high, but these comments are very public and it is not easy for individuals, in particular, to defend themselves.  We believe the Council, its staff and councillors have acted entirely properly.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Application in for the Tumble Down Dick

To be or not to be a McDonald's?

Yes folks, the moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived. And boy am I glad I am not on the planning committee - good luck Gareth. My fellow Councillor Gareth Lyon is the new chairman and what a great application to consider in your first few months of office. Luckily he is a very bright and excellent young Councillor and the perfect person for the job - young, energetic, innovative and very open minded. In fact we could do with more Councillors like him.

Good luck Gareth and the planning committee....

As soon as I get details I will post the link to the actual application.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Firgrove Parade - Press release

Today the Chief Executive of Rushmoor released the following press release:

The history of the Firgrove Parade site can be understood by looking at it from three perspectives, the original sale of the land, the Council’s strategic planning and economic growth policies and the recent planning application.

Land sale and covenant

In 1987, Rushmoor Borough Council sold the current Firgrove Parade site and some adjoining land to Bride Hall for £600,000.   

At this time, a covenant was put in place to protect the Council’s interests by ensuring that a fair share of any future profits from the redevelopment of the land came back to the Council to support the provision of public services.

Due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements, again to protect Rushmoor Borough Council’s interests on any redevelopment of the site. These new arrangements secure 25% of any future uplift in value of the site following development for the Council.

Strategic planning and economic growth

The council has a strategic role to enable the future growth and prosperity of its town centres, including Farnborough.

The Farnborough Town Prospectus was agreed in May 2012 following public consultation. This built on the Farnborough Town Centre Supplementary Planning document (adopted in 2007) and identified Firgrove Parade and the adjoining space as a key gateway site which would benefit from redevelopment.  The prospectus envisaged that this could be a mixed-use scheme offering a range of commercial, leisure and retail space.

Planning application

In February, Bride Hall submitted a planning application which was fully in accordance with current planning policy. The Council, in its role as Local Planning Authority, considered and approved the application in June after public consultation.  This development will represent a significant investment in the town.

In terms of the protesters’ concerns about the trees, as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment.  The trees are not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, but there’s no doubt that they add some amenity value. However we need to weigh this up with the investment benefits that the new development will bring to Farnborough.

In terms of a public right of way crossing the land, as with other developments, as long as there is an alternative route then the right of way can be extinguished or rerouted, provided the proper procedures are followed.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The passing of a great Farnborough Empress Councillor, Mayor and Alderman

Extremely sad to hear that Hon Alderman Alan Frost passed away on 28th June 2013. 

Alan was first elected to Farnborough UDC in 1971 and served as a councillor with Rushmoor until 1999.   During this time he served on many committees, he was Mayor in 1986/87, and became an Honorary Alderman in 2000.

I will ever remember his mischievous sense of humour and wit. He had a great knowledge of highway matters and was an excellent ward councillor - ensuring the Lib Dems never took control of Empress. A great campaigner and a great advocate and champion of Farnborough - a town he loved and worked tirelessly for.

His wife has always been his greatest asset. Sheila has been a great supporter not only of Alan but of the party and Farnborough. Ever full of energy and enthusiasm, I know she has borne a great burden looking after Alan these last few years. Alan loved his family and was extremely proud of his daughter. I am sure he felt their love and support especially these last few years. 

It is sadly at times like this your realise the important things in life are people, and it is with regret that I reflect that I wish I have visited and seen this great man more than I did. Shame on me. 

Alan, at last, is at peace. The pain and frustration of sickness is finally passed, and many will mourn his leaving.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Tumble Down Dick latest.

After a polite reminder - I am publishing this later than I should have!! 17th May. 

Spirit Inns and Bride Hall requested a review of the Council’s decision to list the Tumbledown Dick as an Asset of Community Value and it fell to the Cheif Exec under our procedures to carry this out . He has now completed the review and I have attached the lengthy Decision Notice below for your information below.  

Having taken into account the case presented by Spirit Inns and Bride Hall and the representations submitted by the Friends of the TDD, it has been decided to confirm the original decision which means that the property will remain on the ACV list.  

Spirit Inns and Bride Hall have a right of appeal, should they choose to exercise it through a Tribunal process.

Decision Notice:

Localism Act 2011 Part 5 – Assets of Community Value

Review of Listing Decision under Section 92

Tumbledown Dick Public House, Farnborough

1.    Summary

The Council’s Chief Executive has carried out a review of the decision to list the Tumbledown Dick as an asset of community value. It has been found that the Council’s original decision was correct and properly made. Therefore the property will remain listed as an asset of community value.

2.    Definitions

The following words and phases have the following meanings:

2.1.           the Act” means the Localism Act 2011;

2.2.           ACV” means an asset of community value within the meaning of the Act;

2.3.           ACV List” means the Council’s list of assets of community value maintained pursuant to section 87 of the Act;

2.4.           Bride Hall” means Bride Hall Holdings Limited (company registration number 1094063);

2.5.           the Lease” means the lease of the Property for a term from 20 April 1995 to 23 June 2022, dated 21 February 1996 and made between (1) The Public House Investment Company Limited, (2) The Chef & Brewer Group Limited and (3) Scottish & Newcastle Plc (as varied by a deed of variation dated 21 February 1996 and made between the same parties);

2.6.           the Council” means Rushmoor Borough Council;

2.7.           FTD” means the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick (an unincorporated association);

2.8.           the Original Decision” means the Council’s original decision made on 1 February 2013 to accept the FTD’s nomination of the Property as an ACV;

2.9.           the Property” means the Tumbledown Dick Public House, 227 Farnborough Road, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 7JT, the freehold interest of which is registered under title number HP476108;

2.10.        the Regulations” mean the Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012;

2.11.        Spirit” means Spirit Pub Company (Managed) Limited (company registration number 5269240), the tenant of the Property pursuant to the Lease (and includes, where relevant, reference to Bride Hall, its appointed representative);

3.    Background

3.1.           The FTD nominated the Property as an ACV on 17 December 2011.

3.2.           By the Original Decision, the Council decided to accept the FTD’s nomination of the Property as an ACV. Accordingly, the Council added the Property onto its ACV List and notified Spirit of such listing.

3.3.           On 25 March 2013, Spirit requested a review of the Original Decision in accordance with section 92 of the Act. Spirit appointed Bride Hall to act as its representative in connection with this listing review in accordance with paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 to the Regulations.

3.4.           Spirit initially requested that the listing review be conducted by way of an oral hearing in accordance with paragraph 7(1) of Schedule 2 to the Regulations. However, this request was subsequently withdrawn by Spirit on 16 April 2013. The Council decided not to hold an oral hearing in accordance with paragraph 7(2) of Schedule 2 to the Regulations. Therefore this listing review was conducted by way of written representations only.

3.5.           There is no provision in the Act or in the Regulations for requiring the Council to involve the FTD, as the community group which made the original nomination of the Property, in the listing review. However, the Council considered it to be fair and equitable to inform the FTD of Spirit’s request for a listing review and to give the FTD, as well as Spirit, the opportunity to make representations to the Council regarding such review.

3.6.           The Council wrote to both Spirit, in accordance with paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 to the Regulations, and the FTD on 18 April 2013 setting out the procedure to be followed in connection with the listing review and inviting written representations from each party.

3.7.           This listing review was carried out and decided by Andrew Lloyd, the Chief Executive of the Council, being a Council officer of appropriate seniority who did not take part in making the Original Decision in accordance with paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 to the Regulations.

3.8.           In accordance with section 92(4) of the Act, this is the Council’s decision on the review and the reasons for the decision.

3.9.           In carrying out this listing review the Chief Executive took legal advice from the Solicitor to the Council and had regard to:

3.9.1.       part 5 of the Act;

3.9.2.       the Regulations;

3.9.3.      the Department of Communities and Local Government Community Right to Bid: Non-statutory advice note for local authorities (October 2012);

3.9.4.      the nomination form dated 17 December 2011 by which the FTD nominated the Property as an ACV;

3.9.5.      the Original Decision;

3.9.6.      the written representations made by the FTD on 2 May 2013;

3.9.7.      the written representations made on behalf of Spirit on 2 May 2013;

3.9.8.      the further written representations made by the FTD on 13 May 2013; and

3.9.9.      the further written representations on behalf of Spirit on 13 May 2013.

4.    The relevant legislation

The part of the Act that is in particular relevant to this listing review is section 88(2).  This section provides that a property is to be listed as an ACV following a valid nomination:

            “… if in the opinion of the local authority:

(a)  there is a time in the recent past when an actual use of the building or other land that was not an ancillary use furthered the social wellbeing or interests of the local community, and

(b)  it is realistic to think that there is a time in the next five years when there could be non-ancillary use of the building or other land that would further (whether or not in the same way as before) the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community” (emphasis added).

This section 88(2) deals with cases where the relevant property is not currently in use for a relevant community use, as is the case with the Property.  Section 88(1) of the Act deals with cases where a property is currently in use for a relevant community use; this is not applicable to the Property which is at present vacant and unused.

5.    Spirit’s Representations

5.1.           Spirit acknowledge that the last use of the Property was one that could make a contribution to the local community.  That is, Spirit accepts that the criteria for ACV listing in section 88(2)(a) of the Act is fulfilled.

5.2.           Spirit however also submit that, “… the appeal … is therefore being made on the basis that … no plausible case has been made to even suggest that there is a realistic chance of the Property actually making a contribution to the local community”.  That is, Spirit’s contention is that that the criteria for ACV listing in section 88(2)(b) of the Act is not met and that therefore the Council was wrong to accept the nomination of the Property as an ACV.

5.3.           In support of its position, Spirit point out that the Council stated in its Original Decision that there were, “… ‘serious reservations’ about the ability of the Friends of Tumbledown Dick to raise enough money to bring the buildings into a positive use”.

5.4.           Spirit has provided some detail as to what it believes to be the likely costs of the FTD’s proposals for the purchase and opening of the Property and state that these are likely to be approaching £4.5 million in total.

5.5.           Spirit also states that the FTD have not submitted any business plan and concludes that, “… until such time as a viable and credible Business Plan has been submitted by the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick with some proof of funding and an idea on cost assumptions, then we feel that the Council is duty bound to remove this property from the list as it has not been properly considered against the criteria in the Regulations”.

5.6.           In their response to Spirit’s initial representations, the FTD state that their aim is to obtain funding to purchase the Property through grants and lottery funding. The FTD also question Spirit’s valuation of the Property and estimates for its renovation.  Critically, the FTD state that whilst they do have a business plan, they not wish to make to publically available at this stage since they do not believe that it would be in their commercial interests to do so.

6.    The FTD’s representations

6.1.            The FTD state that the Property was a, “successful local music venue for the last 50 years.”  They refer to a number of media articles regarding history of the Property and its operation as a music venue. The FTD have also included a number of statements from local residents, former employees of the Property and others in support of the group’s aims and of the listing of the Property as an ACV.

6.2.            The FTD state that they intend to re-open the Property as a co-operative pub and community hub captialising on the building’s unique historic value.

6.3.            The FTD state that they have wide public support.

6.4.            In its response to the FTD’s initial representations, Spirit state that the FTD have failed to establish demand for a community led venue, demonstrate requisite skills and experience, produce a credible business plan or clarify their ability to raise the requisite funds.

7.    Decision and reasons

7.1.           The Council notes that there have been no submissions suggesting that Council’s procedure in making the Original Decision was improper or that the FTD’s nomination of the Property as an ACV was invalid in any way, nor is the Council aware of any such procedural defect. Therefore the Council is satisfied that the making of the Original Decision was procedurally correct.

7.2.           Turning to the substantive reasons for the Original Decision, section 88(2) of the Act provides for the criteria for listing a property as an ACV, as detailed in paragraph 4 above. There is a two part test. A local authority needs to be of the opinion that:

(a)    the property was in the recent past actually used for a use that furthered the social wellbeing or interests of the local community; and

(b)    it is realistic to think that there is a time in the next five years when the property could be used for a use that furthered the social wellbeing or interests of the local community.

If both parts of this test are met, then the local authority is obliged to list the relevant property as an ACV, following a valid nomination.

7.3.           Spirit accepts that the first part of this test in section 88(2)(a) is met in that the Property was previously used for a relevant community use.  This is a view that the FTD undoubtedly share.

7.4.           Spirit’s ground of appeal against the Original Decision is essentially the second part of this test in section 88(2)(b) is not met.  That is, its position is that the Council was wrong to come to the opinion that it is realistic that the Property could be again used for a relevant community use in the next five years. In support of this position, it is suggested that the FTD do not have a credible business plan. In addition, Spirit appears to suggest that it is incumbent upon the FTD to provide proof of their funding, evidence of market demand for their proposals for the Property and cost estimates to the Council in order the test in section 88(2)(b) to be satisfied.

7.5.           The Council does not share Spirit’s view that the legislation requires a community group to have a detailed business plan, proof of funding or other detailed proposals for a property as a prerequisite for it to be listed as an ACV. Neither the Act nor the Regulations refer to any such information being required, so far as the Council is aware. 

7.6.           The purpose of the ACV legislation, as stated in the relevant DCLG Guidance, is to allow communities more time to raise finance to purchase assets of community value and prepare to bid for them when they are put up for sale. This is the purpose of the six-month moratorium imposed by the Act before the sale of an ACV can be effected. Therefore, it would be inconsistent with this purpose if it were necessary for a community group to provide such detailed business information and to have offers of funding in place at the point of their nomination of a property as an ACV.

7.7.           In any event, the FTD do claim to have a credible business plan and state they are actively seeking funding.  The FTD also state they do not wish their business plan to be made public at the present time because to do so could prejudice their commercial interests.

7.8.           Further, the Council does not believe that it is required to conduct any detailed financial evaluation of the FTD’s proposals for the Property nor that it would be appropriate for the Council to attempt to do so.

7.9.           To some extent, the Council recognises the doubts that Spirit has raised regarding the credibility and financial viability of the FTD’s proposals for the Property. However, upon the evidence provided by the FTD, the Chief Executive is satisfied that an opinion that it is realistic that the Property could be used for a community use within the next five years is one that the Council is entitled to arrive at. The Chief Executive is accordingly satisfied that the criteria in section 88(2) of the Act are met and that therefore Original Decision was correct.

7.10.        The Chief Executive’s decision in this listing review is therefore to confirm the Original Decision.  The Property will therefore remain on the ACV List.

8.    Right of appeal

8.1.           Spirit is advised that it may appeal against this decision in accordance with regulation 11 of the Regulations.

8.2.           Such appeal must be made to the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal. The deadline for appealing is specified in the procedural rules of that Chamber as 28 days from the date on which notice of the decision appealed against was sent to the owner. Appeals may be both on points of law and on findings of fact. The Property will remain listed during the appeal process.

8.3.           If it wishes to appeal, it should send the appeal in writing to the First-Tier Tribunal at:

Tribunal Clerk
Community Right to Bid Appeals
HM Courts & Tribunals
First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber)
P.O. Box 9300

Spirit may also send an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal by email at:

Andrew Lloyd
Chief Executive
Rushmoor Borough Council

17 May 2013