Posted by: westlancashirerecord | September 23, 2016

Council Considers Development Company Proposal

West Lancs Council  wlbslogois looking into forming a new company to help it achieve its ambitions for development within the borough. The Council has been working on major projects for housing in Firbeck and commerce with the Greenshoots industrial units scheme, which will be let under the name Greenwood Business Centre. Developing these schemes has highlighted the benefits of undertaking similar schemes to generate income for the Council and support its priorities around being ambitious for the local economy.

While the Council has certain specific powers under legislation, if trading is to be undertaken in the wider commercial market with a view to generating income the best way for any authority to do this is to set up a development company. The Council’s Cabinet has approved plans for detailed investigations into creating such a company. Now staff will examine the advantages and disadvantages so they can advise councillors on whether it would be in the best interests of Council Tax payers and the authority. Other options will also be examined.

Councillor Ian Moran cllrmoran, Leader of West Lancashire Borough Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Regeneration, said “One of the Council’s top priorities is to be ambitious for the local economy by developing commercial and residential property. This would help support new and growing businesses, retain and grow jobs, increase the number of residents in the area and generate income to the Council through Council Tax and Business Rates. Many other authorities have taken similar approaches and it would appear there may be significant benefits to the Council and people who live and work in the borough. But we need to fully investigate whether such a body is the best way forward for the Council and Council Tax payers.”

More than 50 Councils have set up their own development companies. West Lancs will consult with other local authorities as part of its investigations into the proposals. The Council can help businesses to search for land and business property of all types and offer a range of other business support including signposting to finance; networking and events; skills and workforce solutions such as support to take on apprentices.

One other example, Peterborough City Council and housing association Cross Keys Homes have agreed to set up a housing company to build homes in the city. The joint venture, which has been approved will build affordable and market rented housing as well as homes for sale. Peterborough council agreed to make £20m available for the new company which would be used to fund the building of new homes. Actual investments into the company will be subject to sign-off by the council’s cabinet. The two organisations have not decided how many homes they will build or the exact tenure of the first phase of homes. The council transferred its housing stock to Cross Keys in 2004. The new company will be funded in part through £14.6m of Right to Buy receipts. peterborough
Both organisations will take a share of income from future sales and rental income which will either be re-invested to build more homes or used to support services for residents. The council voted to initially invest £100,000 to set up the company and to plan the first projects. The joint venture is planned to be up and running in the autumn and the first projects will be announced before the end of the year.

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