Conservative ward councillors call on Kingston Council to safeguard hall for local community

The Conservative Coombe Hill ward councillors are calling on Kingston Council to safeguard the future of the Shiraz Mirza Community Hall after it was unexpectedly put up for sale. The future of the Community Hall next to Norbiton station is now under threat despite it being listed on the Council’s list of ‘Assets of Community Value’, due to its importance to local residents.

The address of the Community Hall is 76a Coombe Road, but is rather hidden away close to Norbiton station, behind Sainsbury’s. The hall is used by local community groups and residents for community events and meetings. The hall is also used as a polling station for Coombe Hill ward in local and general elections.

As the hall is included on the list of Assets of Community Value, the proposed sale needs to meet three conditions before a “relevant disposal” can be progressed. The conditions are detailed at the end of this article.

Any community interest group has until the end of the initial interim moratorium period (11th November 2020) to make a written request to the Council to be treated as a potential bidder for the purchase of the premises.

If a group can satisfy the statutory requirements of a local community interest group and gives notice during the initial moratorium period that they wish to be treated as a potential bidder, they will have until the end of the full moratorium period (31st March 2021) to make an offer to the owner to buy the premises. A local community interest group is defined as either a charity, a company limited by guarantee which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members, an industrial and provident society which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members; or a community interest company. Potential bidders should write to neighbourhood_management@kingston.gov.uk.

Councillor Ian George said: “The three Conservative Coombe Hill ward councillors call on Kingston Council to ensure that the hall remains available for community use. If no local charity or community group come forward to buy it, then the Council should use some of the funds that they have received from developers.”

Councillor Rowena Bass said: “This is very worrying as there are so few places where local residents can use to meet or hold community events. If any local community or charitable groups are interested in taking over the running of the hall, we encourage them to come forward as soon as possible. As ward councillors we will do anything we can to help.”

Cllr Ed Fram said: “With all the new flats being built locally, it is vital that we keep all of the community halls that we have. If anything, we need more facilities, not fewer. By adding the Shiraz Mirza Hall to the official list of ‘Assets of Community Value’ Kingston Council have admitted that the hall is vital, so they shouldn’t just sit back and watch it disappear.”

Details of the proposed disposal of Shiraz Mirza Community Hall

A ‘notice of proposed disposal’ has been submitted for Shiraz Mirza Community Hall (76a Coombe Road, Kingston, KT2 7AZ). The owners are required to inform the Council of their intention to sell the site as it is listed on the Council’s list of Assets of Community Value as shown here on the Council’s website.

A person who is an owner of land included in a local authority’s ACV list must not enter into a “relevant disposal” of the land unless three conditions are met (A to C):-

Condition A:

  •      the person, who wants to enter into a relevant disposal, must have notified the local authority in writing that they want to enter into a relevant disposal of the land
  •      Once notification has been given, the local authority must:
  •      amend the relevant entry on the ACV list, providing the date the notice was received and the end of the moratorium periods;
  •      notify the nominator of those matters if the listing was a result of a community nomination; and
  •      publicise the information in the area where the land is situated.

Condition B: that either:

  •    the interim moratorium period has ended without the local authority having received during that period, a written request (however expressed) from any community interest group for the group to be treated as a potential bidder in relation to the land; or
  •      the full moratorium period has ended.

Condition C: the protected period has not ended

The interim moratorium period is six weeks from the date on which a local authority receives notification of the proposed disposal in satisfaction of Condition A. During the interim moratorium period, an owner of land listed as an ACV can only dispose of the listed land to a community interest group. During the interim moratorium period, a community interest group may give written notice to the local authority that it wants to be treated as a potential bidder in relation to the land. There is no requirement on how this request should be expressed, but it must be made in writing. If no request is made by a community interest group within the six-week interim moratorium period, the owner is free to dispose of the land at the end of the six-week period, and no further moratorium will apply for the duration of the protected period. If a community interest group makes a written request to be treated as a bidder for the listed land, the local authority must inform the owner that this request has been received and that the full six-month moratorium period will operate.

The full moratorium period is six months from the date on which the local authority receives notification of a proposed disposal satisfying Condition A. During the full moratorium period, an owner can continue to market their land and negotiate sales but cannot exchange contracts or enter into a binding contract to exchange contacts, except to a community interest group (that is, a group which either did, or would have been eligible to, trigger the full moratorium period. After the full moratorium period, the owner can dispose of land to whoever they choose.

 The protected period is 18 months from the date on which the local authority receives notification of a proposed disposal satisfying Condition A. It is intended to protect an owner from repeated attempts to block a sale by a community interest group: as there can be no further moratoriums during the protected period. A property will continue to be listed after the protected period has ended.

 Any community interest group has until the end of the initial interim moratorium period (11 November 2020) to make a written request to the Council to be treated as a potential bidder for the purchase of the premises

 If any group satisfies the statutory requirements of a local community interest group and gives notice during the initial moratorium period that they wish to be treated as a potential bidder, they will then have until the end of the full moratorium period (31 March 2021) to make an offer to the owner to buy the premises. A local community interest group, as defined in Regulation 12 of the above mentioned Regulations, is either a charity, a company limited by guarantee which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members, an industrial and provident society which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members; or a community interest company.

 Any groups who wish to be treated as a potential bidder in relation to the land should write to neighbourhood_management@kingston.gov.uk