- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development Services, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services which sought agreement to an updated approach to the use of Council land and property that would focus on supporting the Council’s priorities, particularly in relation to the generation of economic activity and growth.
The Council currently used 170 operational properties with Riverside House accounting for more than half of the cost of property, at £5 million per year, with the remaining assets collectively costing £4.4 million per year.
In recent years the Asset Management Service had successfully disposed of properties that have become surplus to requirement, generating over £20 million in capital receipts in the last three years. The revenue benefit of these disposals was over £2 million per year, which had helped the Council soften the impact on front line services of the unprecedented cuts the Council had been facing.
The Service continued to dispose of surplus assets, in line with Cabinet approvals, but there were a number of factors that meant the Council should now be re-looking at its need for land and property and how it met the needs of citizens and current and prospective businesses in the Borough. There was an opportunity to use the estate more proactively to support corporate priorities, particularly in relation to economic growth.
There has already been a successful and beneficial asset management programme, for example with regard to the town centre office accommodation redevelopment, the creation of service centres and the substantial capital receipts programme referred to earlier.
In order to meet the challenges described in this report, the Cabinet was asked to agree an overall approach and key principles for determining future approach to estate management, which put the achievement of corporate priorities at their core.
In the past sites have been identified only when Services declared them as being surplus to operational requirements. Following a review of the surplus building or land it would then be brought back into use or disposed of – to produce capital receipts. However, the full potential for growth would not be achieved by only using sites as they were freed up by Services declaring them surplus, the Council must actively seek to identify and make available assets to support growth.
The new principles would, therefore, involve a more proactive approach to the use of the Council’s Land and Property assets both in terms of how assets were used and how assets could be provided to enable growth.
The implementation of the approach and principles included in this report would, therefore, identify sites to support growth. Any such plans would be subject to a full business case and agreement with the relevant Service Director, Cabinet Member or Cabinet as appropriate and in consultation with the relevant Ward Members.
It was proposed that a single Land and Property Strategy (LPS) be created to include all the Council’s interests in land and property, including property held for both operational and non-operational purposes, and to include all forms of tenures (where the Council are landlords or tenants). The purpose of the Land and Property Strategy would be to ensure that all the Council’s land and property assets were utilised as effectively as possible to support the approach and principles set out in this report.
Resolved:- That the approach and principles set out in this report for using the Council’s land and property be approved.