What's the London Plan
The London Plan sets out strategic policy for the whole of London. It covers
housing, design, social infrastructure (health, education, sports), the economy, heritage and culture, green space and the natural environment, sustainable infrastructure (air quality, emissions, waste), transport and strategies and places for growth.
Legally it is part of the 32 London Boroughs’ development plans and must be taken into account in their decision-making. (The City of London too, plus the Mayor’s Development Corporations at the Olympic Park and Old Oak Common.)
Inclusion of provisions regarding Assets of Community Value
The latest 2020 revision of the master plan has included provision where London local authorities should make the ACV listing a material consideration in planning applications for public houses. This is a complete u-turn from central governments standard response that it is upto local authorities to decide on each case individually if the nomination should be used as a material consideration.
2016 vs 2020
In the 2016 version London local authorities would only encouraged to bring forward policies to retain, manage and enhance public houses.
However the 2020 version has taken this one step further with specific guidance which should be taken into consideration.
“The Mayor recognises the important role that London’s public houses can play in the social fabric of communities (see also Policy 3.1B) and recent research151 highlights the rapid rate of closures over the past decade and the factors behind these. To address these concerns, where there is sufficient evidence of need, community asset value152 and viability in pub use, boroughs are encouraged to bring forward policies to retain, manage and enhance public houses153.”
“The loss of social infrastructure can have a detrimental effect on a community. Where possible, boroughs should protect such facilities and uses, and where a development proposal leads to the loss of a facility, require a replacement that continues to meet the needs of the neighbourhood it serves. A realistic proposal for replacement social infrastructure should be able to demonstrate funding, appropriate site availability and timely delivery of adequate facilities. To further protect against the loss of social infrastructure that is valued by a local community or group, boroughs should consider approving the designation of a facility as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) if put forward by the local community”
“Boroughs should take a positive approach to designating pubs as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) when nominated by a community group. Listing a pub as an ACV gives voluntary groups and organisations the opportunity to bid for it if it is put up for sale. The ‘right to bid’ is not a right to buy and although owners of the asset have to consider bids from community groups, they do not have to accept them. An ACV listing does, nevertheless, give communities an increased chance to save a valued pub or other local facility. Boroughs should consider the listing of a pub as an ACV as a material consideration when assessing applications for a change of use and consider compulsory purchase orders where appropriate.”
Possible repercussions for local authorities
We have already seen the ACV legislations used vexatiously as a means to delay / block property owners rights should they wish to redevelop the site and I have no doubt that this latest directive will only encourage this process.
There is however light at the end on the tunnel for property owners, In DF v Harrogate Borough Council (#)  UKUT 288 (AAC) (15 October 2020) Judge Richard Poynter has set a legal president under certain circumstances where property owners to claim compensation from local authorities for ‘loss of asset value’ due to the ACV listing.
With the largest claim to date being over £4 million, the financial pressure on local authorities to reduce vexatious nominations where the local community has no intention of buying the asset will no doubt assist asset owners.
The London plan can be viewed in full here :