Peppercorn rent alloments deal stalls after Whittlesey town council looks for share if Fenland Council sells site for housing

20:39 21 April 2014

Fenland District Council

Fenland District Council

Archant

A 99 year lease offered by Fenland Council to Whittlesey Town Council in 2011 for allotments remains unsigned after a dispute over what might happen if the land is sold for housing.

Fenland Council cabinet will be asked on Thursday to consider proposals by the town council who want a 15 per cent share of the net proceeds of any sale of the 6.5 acres at New Road, Whittlesey.

Gary Garford, corporate director and Justin Wingfield, valuations and estates officer, ask in a joint report if the council is ready to agree to the terms requested by the town council.

Cabinet is also being asked to waive an outstanding amount of unpaid rent from the town council and repay an amount that would not have been collected if the original agreement had been granted immediately. The sum involved is £1,128.12.

The report notes that the town council was offered the lease on a peppercorn rent in July 2011.

The Fenland officers caution that Whittlesey is already being offered “an extremely attractive and generous” relocation package. Reducing the possible net income to Fenland should the site be sold for housing “will further reduce” the district council’s anticipated capital receipts.

The report says the allotments provide a valuable and well used facility “and there would be significant public concern were it to be lost. The proposal to share a percentage of the net sale proceeds is an optional enhancement to an already generous relocation package which will ensure that allotment provision in Whittlesey is protected for future generations”.

Fenland says it will only seek planning permission and disposal “if the market conditions are favourable”.

In 2011 cabinet was told that the town council had occupied the land – originally bought for housing- since 1981 and had invested £30,000 between 2009-11 improving the allotments. Indeed Fenland Council had paid £700 towards providing water to the site which were said to be thriving with 100 per cent occupancy.

Cabinet will be told that when last valued in 2011 the site, if sold for housing, would be worth from £1million to £1.25million.

In 2011 Cabinet decided that if the land was sold they would simply find an alternative – now they are to consider giving the town council as much as £100,000 to £150,000.

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