Communities minister Don Foster gave legal powers late to local communities to prevent the rapid sell off of much-loved assets. The Community Right to Bid in the Localism Act came into force on 19 September, allowing locals to "stop the clock" on sales to give them time to launch takeover bids. Foster said he wants to push power back into the hands of locals.
"This new right gives voluntary and community organisations and parish councils the opportunity to nominate an asset, pausing the sale for six months," said a Government spokeswoman.
"Previously, the community had no opportunity or time to gather resources to bid or take them over. Now if a group expresses interest the local planning authority must notify the property owner, who is then not allowed to sell for six months."
She added: "The owner does not have to sell the property to the community but the process gives them more time to organise, prepare a business plan and raise funding. It provides more of a level playing field."
Foster said: "For too long communities have been shut out as treasured local assets have been shut down and sold on. We are determined to put an end to that and put people back at the centre of their communities' future."
For further details, see www.communityrights.communities.gov.uk.