Most of us love the places we live in. We want great local public services, protect what makes our neighbourhood special and see our community grow and develop in the right way.
To make sure that you and your neighbours have the community that you aspire to, the government has given communities new opportunities to preserve what you like and change what you don’t like in your city, town and neighbourhood. Whether you want more homes built, stop the local shops closing, develop your neighbourhood’s planning policies, improve local public services and more here you can find about your rights and what you need to help you take your first steps.
1. The Rights of the Localism Act
- The Act
- Plain English Guide to Localism Act
- You’ve got the power: a quick and simple guide to community rights
- Community Right to Bid – Helps to protect locally important community assets. You and your neighbours can nominate any local building or land you love and then, if it comes up for sale, you have six months to raise the funds to buy it. People have used this right to list shops, libraries, football stadiums, community centres and land like parks or riversides.
- Community Right to Challenge – enables communities to bid to take over local services they think they can run differently and better. This might include youth services, parks, libraries, allotments, children’s centres and a whole lot more.
- Design support for communities – The Design Council, working with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Landscape Institute, the Home Builders Federation and others, has been exploring new approaches towards providing design support for communities. Find out more
- Town and parish council – Establishing a town or parish councils enable people to have a big involvement over a small area. They run everything from job clubs to leisure centres, parks to community cinemas, all on behalf of local people.
- Community shares – Enable residents to invest financially in community projects. By buying shares and becoming part-owners of a business, local people can become supporters, volunteers and advocates – not just customers – and projects get much needed funding to get started and become financially sustainable.
- Community Right to Reclaim Land – Helps communities to improve their local area by giving them the right to ask that under-used or unused land owned by local councils and other public bodies is sold so that it can brought back into use.
- Neighbourhood planning – You can decide where new homes, shops and offices will go, decide what new building look like, what facilities, services and infrastructure is needed and you will be able to grant planning permissions for new building through a Neighbourhood Planning Order.
- Community Right to Build – Gives communities the ability to build their own housing, shops or community facilities without going through the traditional planning process.
- Our Place – Our Place, ensures that public money is being spent in the ways local people want. It enables people to take ownership and responsibility for their area, creating positive changes. It could be used to address health problems, tackle anti-social behaviour, improve the local environment, and raise skill levels.
- Barrier busting – the barrier busting website was launched to allow local people to feedback on the barriers that may prevent them from taking project forward.
2. Developing a community group or a charity
What you are looking to achieve will shape the type of community group you need to start. The legal form you choose for your organisation will impact on how it’s operated and regulated. Some legal forms would also have some limitations on the types of funding you would be able to attract.
So, if you are looking to set up a new community organisation, we would recommend you start by developing a business plan and decide on the business model of your new organisation, this will prepare you for the future.
If you are an existing community organisation looking to benefit from another legal form of organisational structure, you can convert from one form to another or you can just incorporate two or more forms into you current structure.
The most popular forms of organisation used by communities are:
- Charitable (there are for types: company. Trust, incorporated, unincorporated)
- Community Interest Company
- Co-operative (community based enterprise)
- Community benefit Society
Useful links on Setting up community organisation.
- UK’s guide to setting up a social enterprise
- Charities Commission
- How to register a charity
- School for start-ups
- Setting up a community amateur sports clubs
Useful links on Running a charity
- Setting up a charity
- Managing your charity
- Staff and volunteers
- Trustee role and board
- Your charity’s work
- Charity money, tax and accounts
3. Where to get support
Here is a list of organisations and links you can refer to for more advice, support, resources and further information.
- Just Act – Just Act provides practical advice for anyone looking to make a positive difference in their community. This includes anything from setting up an event to re-planning a core community service.
- My Community Rights – The My Community website is the portal for community rights information and grant programmes funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
- Locality – Locality is the national network of ambitious and enterprising community-led organisations, working together to help neighbourhoods thrive
- Community Development Foundation – CDFis the leading national organisation in community development and engagement.CDFpassionate about empowering communities where local people are at the centre of change
- Voluntary Action Coventry – VAC offer range of services & activities to voluntary and community organisations in Coventry including group support, volunteering and network and information sharing.
- Coventry City Council – Coventry City Council,Community Development service works with communities and individuals to identify and build on the strengths and skills within neighbourhoods.
- Inspire2Enterprise – inspire2Enterpriseis a University of Northampton service. It is free-to-access service for the Social Enterprise Sector providing information, specialist advice and support from start-up to initial growth and beyond.
- Social Enterprise UK – Social Enterprise UK is a national body for social enterprise- business with a social environmental mission.
- Social investment business – SIB is a social investment specialist manage on of the largest investment portfolios in the UK of over £110 million.
- GOV.UK – The best way to find government services and information