The Localism Act became law in November 2011. The bill contains five parts:
• Community rights
• Neighbourhood planning
• General power of competence
• Empowering cities and other local areas
The first two parts empower citizens, the latter three empower local authorities.
New community rights allow community organisations to register land and buildings of community value, and to bid for them if they come on to the market for sale. A new right to challenge allows voluntary and community groups, charities, parish councils, and local authority staff to bid to run a local authority service where they believe they can do so differently or better.
Neighbourhood plans enable town and parish councils, business and neighbourhood forums to develop their own policies and create plans for their neighbourhoods, giving them greater opportunities to influence the future shape of the places where they live and work.
Under the act councils have been given more flexibility to manage their housing stock through discretionary powers. As a result they can create better long term outcomes for the wider community.