Ham & Petersham Neighbourhood Forum are considering whether to designate the building that Barclays owns as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). This means that any ACV coming up for sale or similar disposal can be subject to a bid by the local community to make a proposal for its purchase. There is a moratorium period of six months to allow such a bid to be put together (possibly with the help of outside investors).
It seems to me, having looked at the information on the mycommunityrights.org.uk website, that an ACV can be used partly just as a mechanism to ensure local planners consider the community’s needs when looking at any applications for a building. So from this perspective I think it would be a good thing to do, as it will:
1 Stop Barclays selling the site to Sainsbury’s without the community’s input.
2 Give the community a chance to work out what it really wants the building to be used for, and even if the community doesn’t actually buy it, at least it will then be a material consideration in any planning application so the council will be forced to consider the issues properly, such as what’s best for that particular area of of shops.
3 It will give the Ham & Petersham Neighbourhood Forum experience of a valuable tool that can be used in future to prevent other sell offs in the area, such as Cassell House (currently up for let, but ‘could’ be sold off). I wish I’d known about it when Latchmere House was being sold off as that would have been an ideal candidate for an ACV.
On the downside, designating the site as an ACV will mean the building is likely to stay empty for longer, and that we might end up with something worse than Sainsbury’s. Overall, these are risks worth taking. The existing food shops on Ham Parade will suffer (and likely close) if a Sainbury’s Local (or any other mini-supermarket) opens there so as a community we need to do what we can to prevent this and work out what would be best situated on this prime site to stimulate the area.