This has been sitting in my Google Docs since May, so I figured I'd just publish it here.
“This Place Is Ours” is the working name for an app that helps people club together to protect their local pub, skate-park, village hall or park by adding it to the Register of Assets of Community Value.
An asset of community value is a building or bit of land that “furthers the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community”
Assets get added to the register when they are either nominated by a constituted local group (like a parish council) or when 21 people (who must be registered voters in the same borough) club together.
Once added to the register, the asset is subject to stricter planning regulations (eg a supermarket wanting to convert a pub will need full planning permission) and the local group may apply for a 6 month period to attempt to buy the asset if it is proposed to be sold.
Anecdotally, this power seems to get used reactively, when there is a known threat to a building, rather than proactively.
“This Place Is Ours” will make it easy for 21 people (who do not need to know each other) to prepare a valid application and submit it to a local authority.
To test the concept, an alpha project will aim to get the majority of pubs (and maybe another category eg adventure playgrounds) in the London Borough of Lambeth added to the register, and understand what works for users.
Currently there are only 10 assets listed on the register in Lambeth. Lambeth has more community assets than this.
So far, I've got as far as doing a trial with 1 pub, using Google Forms and promoting on Facebook.
More interesting would be using the using the Foursquare 'check-in' pattern for this sort of thing - building groups of people and civic campaigns around real world things.