Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Disposal of land to and development financing for Meridian Home Start

To approve in principle the disposal of the freehold interest in the three Council owned sites listed in this report to Meridian Home Start Ltd (MHS).  To approve the loan agreement facility up to £27.6m (including 10% contingency) between the Royal Borough of Greenwich and MHS.  To approve £8.2m Right to Buy (RTB) funding agreement between The Royal Borough of Greenwich and MHS.  To approve in principle the disposal of land in front of Rochester Way Social Club site to MHS.  To note that the public open space will remain as publically accessible open space and will not be built on.  To agree to delegate authority to the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills to agree further terms or minor revisions to the proposed terms of the Disposal.  To agree to delegate authority to the Director of Finance to agree further terms or minor revisions to the proposed terms of the loan.  To note annual progress reports of the development and operation of the schemes will be provided on a regular basis.

Decision:

Approved in principle the disposal of the freehold interest in the three Council owned sites listed in this report to Meridian Home Start Ltd (MHS), on the terms set out in sections 5 and 6

 

Approved the loan agreement facility up to £27.6m (including 10% contingency) between the Royal Borough of Greenwich and MHS in accordance with the draw down conditions set out within the loan agreement, as detailed in Appendix 2, section 3.

 

Approved £8.2m Right to Buy (RTB) funding agreement between The Royal Borough of Greenwich and MHS, as detailed in Appendix 2, section 4;

 

Approved in principle the disposal of land classed as public open space land in front of Rochester Way Social Club site to MHS, subject to public consultation on the disposal of the open space land and reporting back to Cabinet any observations received from that consultation;

 

Noted that the public open space will remain as publically accessible open space and will not be built on;

 

Agreed to delegate authority to the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills to agree further terms or minor revisions to the proposed terms of the Disposal.

 

Agreed to delegate authority to the Director of Finance to agree further terms or minor revisions to the proposed terms of the loan.

 

Noted annual progress reports of the development and operation of the schemes will be provided on a regular basis.

Minutes:

 

The Cabinet considered the report, and noted submission by a resident who addressed the meeting with a concern that the proposals were inconsiderate because the opportunity for the Council to undertake significiant development for residents who were in need of housing would be lost.  The resident suggested that Members should delay making a decision on two of the sites listed in the report, with a view to re-evaluate all options, including schemes by other local authorities who had successfully developed projects that delivered council housing exempt from Right-To-Buy (RTB). 

 

In response to questions raised, the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills advised Members that it was appropriate to propose to Cabinet to approve in principle the disposal of the freehold interest in the three Council-owned sites to Meridian Home Start Ltd (MHS) because the Council had to deliver housing within budget constraints.  Therefore, as an independent company, MHS could take RTB receipts and borrow money without affecting the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap.

 

The Director of Finance also confirmed to Members that because local authorities had restrictions placed upon them on how much to borrow, the proposals in the report represented the best possible options for the Council to take without breaching the HRA borrowing cap.

 

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Deputy Leader of the Council, concurred statements made by the Officers.  The meeting also noted confirmation by the Deputy that the Council was working with its partners within very restrictive rules to meet the local Labour Party’s manifesto commitment to deliver decent housing to residents in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. 

 

The Cabinet considered submissions made at the meeting and

 

Resolved –

 

1.         That it be agreed to approve in principle the disposal of the freehold interest in the three Council owned sites listed in this report to Meridian Home Start Ltd (MHS) on the terms set out in sections 5 and 6 of the report.

 

2.         That it be agreed to approve the loan agreement facility up to £27.6m (including 10% contingency) between the Royal Borough of Greenwich and MHS in accordance with the draw down conditions set out within the loan agreement, as detailed in Appendix 2, section 3 of the report.

 

3.         That it be agreed to approve £8.2m Right to Buy (RTB) funding agreement between The Royal Borough of Greenwich and MHS, as detailed in Appendix 2, section 4;

 

4.         That it be agreed to approve in principle the disposal of land classed as public open space land in front of Rochester Way Social Club site to MHS, subject to public consultation on the disposal of the open space land and reporting back to Cabinet any observations received from that consultation;

 

5.         That it be noted that the public open space will remain as publically accessible open space and will not be built on;

 

6.         That it be agreed to delegate authority to the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills to agree further terms or minor revisions to the proposed terms of the Disposal.

 

7.         That it be agreed to delegate authority to the Director of Finance to agree further terms or minor revisions to the proposed terms of the loan.

 

8.         That it be noted that annual progress reports of the development and operation of the schemes will be provided on a regular basis.

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