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Telford council uses Land Fund profits to re-invest in other projects

Station Quarter Digital Skills Enterprise Hub

Profits from the Telford Land Deal have helped the council re-invest in other projects within the borough, a director has said.

The Telford Land Deal is a 10-year partnership between Telford & Wrekin Council, Homes England (ran by the central government) and the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

It was revealed at last month’s Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet meeting that the Land Deal had generated £7million for them over the last eight years.

Councillors were given an updated presentation at their business and finance scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday night.

Dawn Toy, service delivery manager for regeneration and investment said since 2015 the Land Deal has delivered 32 commercial sites and 24 other sites for residential development – of 79 sites incorporated in the scheme.

“The majority of the others are on the open market or we are in negotiations,” added Mrs Toy.

James Dunn, council director of prosperity and investment, said that when the Land Deal was agreed Homes England had ‘book values’ on what each piece of land was valued to their estate.

He said that the council has been tasked with priming those sites, including getting planning permission to give the sites an ‘uplift in value’.

Funds generated from the deal have helped with the investment in the council owned Hollinswood House which has been turned into a community diagnostic centre for NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

Money has also been used to invest in the Digital and Skills Hub in Telford’s Station Quarter development, currently under construction.

Mrs Toy added: “As landlords of Hollinswood we had to invest and support them through the Growth Fund. (The NHS Trust have) already opened the ground floor for blood testing.

“As a result of that we’ve secured a 25-year agreement and generated income during that period.”

Mrs Toy added that when the Land Deal was agreed the council was tasked with delivering 2,800 new homes.

Currently commercial sites have created 2,233 new jobs, while 1,535 new homes have been built (684 affordable).

Mrs Toy said that in the last financial year alone 307 new jobs have been created and 251 new homes. This financial year is forecasted to see 48 new homes built.

“Some sites coming through have a large allocation of homes on them,” said Mrs Toy when talking about the delivery target.

Recent residential sites include Majestic Way, Newcomen Way and Old Park 1 & 2.

The scheme has also been linked to a growth in business rates to in excess of over £600,000 per annum.

Mrs Toy said that the Land Deal also allows the council to ‘respond quickly to the market’.

“It allows us to invest if there are opportunities or gaps in the market,” Mrs Toy said.

“We can de-risk the site getting infrastructure on there and when a developer comes in we can have a site ready for them to react to that demand.

“The Land Deal and the Growth Fund is a one stop shop and provides income to support council services.”

She added that the second phase of Ni.Park had just been completed and Orchard Business Park was another industrial development through the scheme.

As part of the Land Deal eight sites were ‘accelerated to market’ and Mrs Toy added that ‘in some cases’ they were on the market three years earlier than Land England predicted.

Councillor Andy Burford said that the Land Deal was ‘forward thinking’ but he was ‘struck’ by the fact the scheme is due to finish at the end of 2026.

Mr Dunn added that there was a two-year run off period so the scheme would effectively run until 2028/29. When questioned Mr Dunn said that the scheme was ‘absolutely’ sustainable

Source: Shropshire Star

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