The New Folkestone Society has been working with other community groups on a campaign to save Folkestone Library. Whilst reinstatement of the library service remains a priority for Kent County Council, the Society has concerns about the building’s future. It is the oldest surviving purpose-built library in Kent. Its location makes it ideally placed to link and benefit two wards. Many worry that a temporary relocation would become permanent, giving an excuse to dispose of the building. Although Kent County Council states this isn’t on the cards, we want to ensure it doesn’t happen.
Consequently, the Society nominated the library as an Asset of Community Value. We are delighted to announce that, after careful consideration, Folkestone & Hythe District Council has agreed to list it. The listing is effective as of 17 July 2023. Kent County Council now has until 11 September 2023 to challenge the decision.Read more: Folkestone Library listed as Asset of Community Value
This means the Council cannot sell the building quickly, as the Community Right to Bid applies.
What is an Asset of Community Value?
An Asset of Community Value (ACV) is a building or land that is (or has recently been) used primarily to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community – and such use could continue in the future. This would typically be community centres, pubs, libraries and allotments, although hotels and private dwellings do not qualify. Social interests include cultural, sporting and recreational interests.
The Localism Act 2011 dictates that ACVs form part of the Community Right to Bid.
What is the Community Right to Bid?
The owner of an ACV must inform the Council if they intend to sell it. This will trigger an interim moratorium period of six weeks. Certain local community groups, charities and parish councils may register as a potential bidder during this period.
If valid groups come forward, there would be a second full moratorium period of six months. Groups can use this time to raise funds, create a proposal and make an offer to the owner. During both moratorium periods, the owner may not conclude a sale.
When is an ACV removed from the register?
After five years.
Does the nominating group get first refusal?
No. Any valid group that declares an interest in bidding within the interim moratorium period may make an offer.
Does the owner have to accept an offer?
No. There is no requirement for the owner to accept any offer. The owner may sell the asset to a private buyer following the full moratorium period.
Is there a moratorium period if the owner wants to demolish the asset?
No. The usual demolition process doesn’t trigger a moratorium period.