The intellectual inspiration for this policy is Phillip Blond, the so-called Red Tory, who first proposed the idea back in July:
Blond is behind much of the Tories’ best thinking at the moment. Note how they adopted his idea for mutualising parts of the NHS. His new think-tank Res Publica is being launched next Thursday with a speech by David Cameron and with mutualism going to be an increasingly important part of the political and policy debate in the coming months expect to see a lot more of Blond’s ideas being adopted by the Tories.“
'Create a community right to buy. Allow local community groups to register an interest in a local eyesore or decrepit building, whether privately or publicly owned. For a fair market value, such legislation can allow local social enterprises six months to put together a funding package to turn a liability into an asset for a transformative local business.'
Update: A friend emails to say that this idea was first injected into the policy debate in a green paper called 'Sixty Million Citizens: Unlocking Britain's social capital' which came out when IDS was leader.