Across the UK, Bristol being no exception, many community resources are disappearing or have already disappeared, with buildings often demolished or sold to private companies for redevelopments that deliver little benefit for local communities.
Buildings are often a vital community asset, and can be thriving hubs of support, collaboration and creativity. So unfettered commercial redevelopment is a threat to many VCSE organisations, as property plays a key part in the services they deliver. Having a physical presence in a locality can provide a strong foundation for strengthening an organisation’s relationship with, and support for, a community.
If your building is under threat of commercial development or perhaps there is a property in your area that you could run for the benefit of your community, you could consider registering it as an asset of community value.
Bristol City Council publishes a list of Assets of Community Value. The list is updated on a regular basis and contains a mixture of publicly and privately owned properties, such as community centres, libraries, pubs and sports stadiums. Each asset has been nominated by Bristol communities, and it stays listed for five years.
If a landowner wants to sell a property on the list, they must tell Bristol City Council, and then community groups can trigger a six-month moratorium (postponement period) when the property can't be listed on the market. This six-month window allows groups enough time to prepare their bid to buy the property.
Assets of Community Value in Bristol include Ashton Gate Stadium, The Greenway Centre, Lawrence Weston Youth Club, Malcolm X Centre, Southmead Library, St. Agnes Lodge, and Windmill Hill City Farm.
Following the pandemic, some voluntary sector organisations are now facing property management challenges and are having to re-imagine their work space due to a staff team in flux, hybrid working patterns, and the need for flexible service delivery. This is leading some organisations to review how much physical space they actually require.
How are you managing the new working environment in your organisation? Are you rethinking how you use your workspace since the pandemic? Are you perhaps rethinking if you need/can afford to keep your physical premises?
If you need advice about a property issue, the Ethical Property Foundation, provides free support to charities, social enterprises, and community groups. They are also currently asking organisations about their property experiences as they emerge from the pandemic in the 2022 Charity Property Matters Survey. The survey runs until 31st March 2022, so take part to help develop an informed view of our sector's relationship with property.
If you are facing challenges with hybrid working, and strengthening your staff team for the future, do let us know the difficulties you’re facing, by dropping us an email. We’re planning a series of learning and development sessions to help you get teams back together, and are keen to include, and help you address, such issues.