Yorkshire’s rural communities are being urged to plan for their future, by seizing new opportunities to protect the buildings and businesses that play a vital role in local life.

The charity Rural Action Yorkshire wants to raise awareness of new rights within the Localism Act and wants more villages to consider what they value and what their future needs are.

Local campaigners struggling to save their pub, village shop, or the conversion of a former school into housing, feature often in the media, but new research by the Yorkshire Rural Network has shown that few are aware that there is need for action now, by using the Localism Act to register assets with the local authority.

Now a group of Yorkshire charities wants to ensure that rural communities understand their rights.  The Yorkshire Rural Network is a partnership of Rural Action Yorkshire, Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council and Involve Yorkshire and Humber.  The Network is also working jointly with the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations (YLCA), which provide support for parish and town councils and parish meetings.

Under the 2011 Localism Act, local authorities are required to maintain a list of assets of community value and communities are able to nominate the assets which are important to them. When listed assets come up for sale or change of ownership, community groups will have time to develop a bid and raise the money to buy the asset when it comes on the open market.  This will help local communities keep much-loved sites in public use and part of local life.

Leah Swain, chief officer at Rural Action Yorkshire, said, “Our recent research has shown that there are assets registered in only three of the local authorities across North, South and West Yorkshire. We also discovered that nearly half of the authorities have no information about the process on their websites.”

She added, “Rural communities need to start talking to them about their local assets: there are many treasured and important buildings which need including on these registers.”

Ed Poulter, rural policy officer at Involve Y&H said, “If you love your local pub, if you rely on your village shop, now’s the time to act. The new laws give communities the chance to nominate the assets that matter to them and shape where they live – so don’t miss out!”

There are countless potential assets across rural Yorkshire, from historic places of worship, village pubs and business units, to open spaces and small plots suitable for allotments.  Get in touch with your local authority and let them know what your local community values, or find out more on the Localism Act at www.ruralyorkshire.org.uk

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