Report of Urgent Cabinet Decision - Exclusivity Agreement with Keepmoat
Councillor Loraine Cox, Portfolio Holder Housing and Regeneration, reported on a decision which had been taken on 18th December 2019 by the Head of Regeneration and Housing, in accordance with Executive Procedure Rule B16, in relation to an Exclusivity Agreement with Keepmoat Homes Limited for the disposal of the Council’s interest in two sites for residential development. The sites were as follows:-
- Land south of Blackburn Road, Accrington, known as Phoenix 1D; and
- Land at Howard Close, Accrington, known as Spring Hill Village, Accrington
The decision was as follows:-
That authority be granted to enter into an Exclusivity Agreement with Keepmoat Homes Limited for the two sites described in the report and for the reasons set out in the report.
That authority be delegated to the Head of Regeneration and Housing to conclude the terms of the Exclusivity Agreement following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Housing.
That the Head of Regeneration and Housing be authorised to complete the exclusivity Agreement following satisfactory completion of negotiations with Keepmoat Homes Limited.
That it be noted that a further report will be brought to a future Cabinet meeting to allow Cabinet to consider the terms of disposal for the two sites described in the report.
Approval of the report was not deemed a key decision.
Reasons for Decision
The decision was urgent on the basis that the existing Overarching Development Agreement (ODA) with Keepmoat ended on 19th December 2019 and Keepmoat had indicated that they might withdraw their interest in the sites if they were not granted a further exclusivity period upon the expiry of the ODA and there were no further Cabinet meetings being held before this date.
The report set out the reasons for the substantive decision in more detail. Key points are summarised below:-
- The ODA arrangement had been successful in securing regeneration and development of 216 new modern high quality homes, in West Accrington;
- The two remaining sites that are subject to the ODA remain undeveloped as they are not considered to be financially viable;
- The Council has an opportunity to access funding for land remediation and infrastructure work for the two sites through Homes England’s Local Authority Accelerated Construction Fund, which will be subject to legal terms and a separate report to Cabinet at a later date. Approval and access to this funding could make the two development parcels financially viable;
- Keepmoat remain very keen to work with the Council in development the two sites for housing, subject to having exclusive right to purchase the site for a maximum period of 6 months.
Alternative Options considered and Reasons for Rejection
The Council could consider not developing the two sites. However, this could be a missed opportunity to develop new, modern housing in the area, as well as leave the two sites undeveloped.
The Council could consider advertising the two sites on the open market. However, it is considered that developers are unlikely to regard the sites as financially viable currently and, therefore, this is an opportunity to secure the two sites for development in conjunction with Keepmoat, subject to securing Homes England funding.
The Exclusivity Agreement will only be short term and, therefore, if the Council is unable to secure favourable terms with Keepmoat, the Council will then be able to place the sites on the open market.
Resolved - To note the decision taken by the Head of Regeneration and Housing, under Executive Procedure Rule B16, to approve various actions identified within the report relation to an Exclusivity Agreement with Keepmoat Homes Limited.