Localism overview

Localism is the transfer of power, authority and resources from central government to local government and other local public agencies, who in turn devolve to and empower communities.

The Localism Act was introduced in November 2011 (you can also read a plain English guide to the Localism Act).

The Act aims to devolve more decision making powers from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils.

The Act covers a wide range of issues related to local public services, with a particular focus on the general power of competence, community rights, neighbourhood planning and housing.

The key measures of the Act were grouped under four main headings:

  • new freedoms and flexibilities for local government
  • new rights and powers for communities and individuals
  • reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective
  • reform to ensure decisions about housing are taken locally

How to use Community rights

To make sure that you and your neighbours have the community that you aspire to, the government has given you legal powers through the Localism Act 2011 to preserve what you like and change what you don't like about the town or village you live in.

Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood Plans enable local communities to shape the future of the places where they live and work. Neighbourhood planning has the same legal status as those developed by councils.

Community Right to Build

Community Right to Build forms part of the neighbourhood planning provisions contained in the Localism Act and was brought into force by the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations in 2012. The regulations enable local people to bring forward and deliver small-scale, site-specific, community-led developments. Any financial benefits resulting from such developments remain within the community. The community right to build is different from the development of neighbourhood plans as it relates to specific proposals, the development of which the community overseas. Neighbourhood plans in contrast simply allow local communities to influence development in their neighbourhood and under certain circumstances to grant planning permission.

Community Right to Bid

Community Right to Bid allows communities and parish councils to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value. If a listed asset is then put up for sale, an eligible community organisation can trigger a six month moratorium period if they want to purchase the asset.

Community Asset Transfer

Community Asset Transfer is the process of transferring ownership or leasehold of property or land from one party to another.

Community Shares

Community Shares enable residents to invest financially in community projects. Buying shares and becoming part-owners of a business allows local people to become supporters, volunteers and advocates, not just customers, and projects get much-needed funding to get started and become financially sustainable. Community shares can save local shops and pubs, finance renewable energy schemes, transform community facilities, support local food growing, fund new football clubs, restore heritage buildings, and above all, build stronger, more vibrant, and independent communities.

Community Right to Challenge

Community Right to Challenge enables communities to bid to take over local services they think they can run differently and better. Examples may include youth services, parks, libraries and allotments.

Community Right to Reclaim Land

Community Right to Reclaim Land allows communities to challenge local councils and some other public bodies to release their unused and underused land.

Community Right to Contest

The Right to Contest allows the public to challenge central government to release land for better economic use. Unlike the Community Right to Reclaim Land, which deals with unused or underused land, the Right to Contest can be used to argue that land currently in use could be put to a better economic purpose, for example, for housing or to help businesses develop or expand where operations on the land could be moved to a different location.

Right to Regenerate (reform of the Right to Contest)

Currently under consultation. This consultation is to help to shape a reform of the Right to Contest, in order to encourage the right to be utilised more effectively and more widely to stimulate regeneration and the more productive use of land. This consultation closes at 11:45 pm on 13 March 2021  Right to Regenerate: reform of the Right to Contest