Leicester City Council are expected to “raise a huge sum” from a deal which will see a quarter-acre plot of land on Jarrom Street sold to developers SMMS Investments who want to build new accommodation for nurses near Leicester Royal Infirmary. The multi-million pound scheme of 180 flats is said to span over a nine-storey complex.
The huge sum may not be quite so huge, however, when we consider the blunder made by Sir Peter Soulsby which saw a prime city centre location where the old Leicester City Council offices stood sold to developers for a meer £24thousand when it was worth upwards of £3million.
The sale, for a currently undisclosed amount, will proceed if the scheme is granted planning permission. As local taxpayers, we wonder why the sum is currently remaining undisclosed but we expect the sum to be significantly lower than the actual market value of the site and considering the fact that, should the plot be sold at market value to any developer who builds accommodation on the land, the council will generate a similar revenue from council tax and other incoming fees from the new residents of Leicester which eliminates any excuse of undercutting the taxpayer by selling the land for less than market value. Unfortunately, as the labour-led council has proven time and time again, the public purse and maximising the profit from the sale of public assets may be at the bottom of their priority when it comes to the sale of the land.
The council anticipates it will get a “substantial six-figure sum” which means the plot of land will be sold for less than £1million, therefore meaning the plot of land will be sold for significantly less than market value when we look at vacant land spanning less than 1/10th of an acre for sale in Market Harborough for £900’000.
The council claims the sale of the plot will allow and for improved development in the area by combining the neighbouring sites, however, this can be done by the council should they choose to build more social housing on the land themselves or sold the plot to a local housing association who could build affordable homes instead. A better option would be to sell the plot to new-homes builders who could sell the properties to the next waive of first-time buyers.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said:
Careful and considered management of our land and property assets is one way we can strengthen our capital budgets and continue to invest in the future prosperity of the city.
However, we feel that actions taken previously regarding similar carefully managed land and property assets have done the opposite of strengthening our capital budgets, in fact, the sale of one plot of land already mentioned (New Walk) cost the taxpayer millions in lost capital; this loss could have covered the cost of the damage caused by the Hinckley Road Illegal Alcohol Factory Explosion seven times over. Soulsby adds;
“This is a largely underused plot of land that adjoins land and property earmarked for residential development. Its sale will allow an improved scheme to come forward and result in a very useful capital receipt for the council.”
SMMS says there is demand for key workers accommodation to help the hospital attract more nursing staff. However, there is already a lot of prime rental accommodation in the area, including Pavillion Close, Welford Road, Narborough Road, Aylestone Road and London Road.
Currently, an unused MOT garage and Sherwin Hall Kitchens & Interiors (who would move if planning permission is granted meaning there’s likely going to be a hefty payout to Sherwin Hall Kitchens & Interiors to relocate their business at the further expense of the taxpayer).
Council officers are considering the application for the property development which is likely to go ahead given Peter Soulsby is at the helm of the city’s finances.