Government proposals for a ‘Community right to buy’ will harm the interests of local retailers unless major amendments are made, the Association of Convenience Stores has warned.

Included in the Localism Bill, the proposals will enable community groups to add private or publicly-owned buildings or land - including local shops - to a ‘community asset list’. Once listed, anyone seeking to sell the asset must notify their local authority if they intend to sell and must give the community time to consider making a bid to buy the asset.

But ACS chief executive James Lowman said the new “bureaucratic process” had the potential to scupper the sale of hundreds of businesses each year.

“It is perverse that community right to buy will harm business to business transfers even where there is no risk of the community losing its local shop,” he added.

In its submission to the consultation on the rules, ACS has called for three changes: All assets that are subject to leasehold agreements should be excluded from listing; All assets that include both a commercial business and a residential unit should be excluded from listing; Any community group seeking to add a shop to the ‘community asset’ must set out how they would conceive to assemble and finance a bid if the asset was made available for sale.   

“Our concern is not to prevent the ability of communities to develop bids, but to ensure that the only assets subject to serious proposals for community ownership are listed,” Lowman said.

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