Bidding for a listed asset FAQ
Who can express interest in bidding if an asset comes up for sale?
Only a “community interest group” can express an interest in bidding, unlike a nomination which can be made by a wider range of local community groups, including unincorporated local groups. This means a Parish Council in whose area the asset lies or any incorporated community group which meets these definitions:
- It has a local connection, meaning that its activities partly or wholly occur in the local planning authority area
- It is a charity, a company limited by guarantee, a Community Interest Company or an Industrial and Provident Society or Community Benefit Society
- Is it only the group who nominated the asset originally for listing that can express an interest in bidding?
- No, an expression of interest can be made triggered by any eligible local community group, not just the one who nominated the asset in the first place.
What qualifies as a valid expression of interest?
For an expression of interest to be sufficient to trigger the full moratorium, it only needs to make the request and come from a valid group – it does not need to provide any details of the nature of a bid, or demonstrate that a viable bid is even possible.
Assessment of any bids will be up to the asset owner but include calling for a full business case, as per common approaches to asset transfer, where publicly owned assets are concerned.
Where an asset owner is in the public sector, or is the local planning authority, they should provide helpful and relevant data to any community bidders that may assist the development of a business plan and raising finance.
What is meant by a ‘moratorium’?
A ‘moratorium’ is a temporary suspension of the process. In this instance it does not prevent the sale of an asset, it delays the process to allow time for the community to put forward an expression of interest, produce a business case and secure the necessary funding if they wish to bid for the asset.
Are any types of disposal exempt from the moratorium process?
Some types of disposal are exempt from the moratorium process, even if the asset is listed. The Localism Act sets out a number of exemptions:
- Disposal through the gift of an asset
- Disposal of an asset containing a business which uses the asset and which is a ‘going concern’ (e.g. a shop still in operation)
- Companies in a group
- Disposals in the execution of a will or arising from various legal proceedings
- Disposal of an asset that is part of a larger estate, part of which is not listed, but where the whole estate is owned by the same person and is a single lot of land
Some further exemptions set out in the Regulations include:
- Disposals from one NHS body to another
- Disposal of Church of England land holdings
- Disposals for ongoing educational provision
- Disposals between connected companies
- Disposals as a result of court order
- Disposals as a result of bankruptcy or insolvency
What are the timescales for the process if an owner wants to sell a listed asset?
The owner of the property is required to notify us as soon as they intend to dispose of a listed asset.
This triggers a moratorium period of six weeks during which community interest groups can apply to be treated as potential bidders. At this stage groups must show a local connection and must have a legal status
The owner will be able to begin the sale process after an interim period of six weeks if no bidder has come forward
If a written intention to bid is received in that time then the full six month moratorium period will apply
The sale itself takes place under normal market conditions.
An eighteen month protection period has also been created: if this expires before the property is sold the original notification of the intent to sell process must start again.