Communities ‘in dark over rights to save local assets’

Ilkley Gazette: Councillor Andrew Mallinson,     chairman of Bradford Council’s regeneration and economy overview and scrutiny committee Councillor Andrew Mallinson, chairman of Bradford Council’s regeneration and economy overview and scrutiny committee

An empty school, a closed museum and land behind a mill have been given protection against being sold off and lost to the community.

But Bradford Council must do more to promote the new rules which allow the safeguarding of assets, says the chairman of a committee due to discuss the issue.

Measures introduced in 2012 under the Localism Act give people the right to ask for land and buildings to be officially listed as an ‘asset of community value’.

This means if the sites are ever put up for sale, the Council has to be notified and community groups and parish councils are given an opportunity to put in an offer.

A new report by Bradford Council reveals that, so far, there have been nine applications to have buildings or sites put on the list across the district. It was due to be discussed at a meeting of the Council’s Regeneration and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee today, Thursday.

Committee chairman Councillor Andrew Mallinson (Con) said he was concerned that the number of applications was too low and that people did not know they could apply to have assets protected in this way.

He said: “I am extremely disappointed. For the size of the district we have got, it’s clear that the Council haven’t done enough to promote the fact that community groups can do this.

“What I want to look at is what advertising the Council has done.”

Three of the nine applications have been successful, including a bid by Baildon Town Council to list the now-closed Bracken Hall Countryside Centre and Museum in Baildon. The town council is working with the newly formed Friends of Bracken Hall group to take over and re-open the centre.

Manningham Mills Community Association has been successful with its bid to get land and buildings to the back of Lister’s Mill in Lilycroft Road, Manningham, named as an asset of community value.

The association wants to turn the unused land into a community allotment, orchard and horticultural training project. And a derelict special school in Shipley has also made the list.

The former Heaton Royds School on Redburn Drive, which closed in 2010, was one of the first buildings to be granted community asset status last year.

The Bradford Community Environmental Project hopes to buy the building, turning it into an environmental centre to “inspire, demonstrate and enable sustainable lifestyle behaviours”.

Three of the bids were unsuccessful.

These were for land off Buck Lane, Baildon, which planners have earmarked for a high-tech business park, the Bronte birthplace in Thornton, which is a private residence, and a Council office in Kirkgate, Shipley, occupied by a team which supports children leaving the care system.

A bid by a fans’ group to have Bradford City’s home at Valley Parade added to the list was withdrawn last month, and applications for Silsden Youth Centre and Daisy Chain Children’s Centre, and a garage site at Low Hall Road, Menston, are yet to be decided upon.

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