Owl wonders how EDDC is getting on with Grenadier in Exmouth …..
“Uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on the UK property market has hit two major council investment projects.
Essex County Council this week formally removed £6m from the budget for its £50m property investment fund after pausing further purchases due to worries over Brexit.
Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove City Council has been forced to delay the signing of a development agreement on a regeneration scheme in which it is planning to invest £8m.
The problems emerged in a week that communities secretary James Brokenshire announced allocations for councils under a new £56m fund to help them prepare for Brexit.
In a report to councillors, Margaret Lee, executive director for corporate and customer services, recommended the £6m reduction in Essex’s property investment fund, saying: “Due to the uncertainties caused by Brexit and the potential impact on the property market, the scheme has been paused with no further purchases planned.”
The pause in investment was originally agreed by Essex councillors in November, after advice from its adviser Hymans Robertson not to expand its commercial property programme “due to the current market conditions including the unknown impact of Brexit”.
However, the council has now decided to remove £6m from the investment programme budget as part of a package of measures that will help the authority reach a forecast underspend of £29.6m in its 2018/19 capital spending programme.
Before the programme was halted, £44m of the fund had been spent on property, which the council says is already yielding £1m for council services.
Essex is set to review whether to restart commercial property investment through the fund during the summer.
Meanwhile, in Brighton, councillors have been forced to delay a deadline they set for housebuilder Crest Nicholson to sign the development agreement on the King Alfred leisure centre and housing regeneration scheme.
Originally, councillors had proposed to walk away from discussions with the developer unless it signed the deal by 31 January.
However, it extended the deadline until 30 March – the day after the UK’s date for leaving the European Union (EU), following a last minute plea from Crest.
In a letter to the council, it cited “challenging economic uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the impact this could yet have on the construction industry workforce and wider confidence and stability of the property market”.
It added that “as soon as we have greater certainty over the nature and form of the Brexit arrangement which we all hope and expect will be achieved shortly, and assuming this does give reasonable certainty over the future trading relations with Europe, then we will enter into the development agreement and commit the team and resources required to promote the scheme, develop the design and seek planning in accordance with the conditions and programme”.
In 2016, the council committed £8m to the project, which comprises a sports centre, swimming pool, underground parking and 565 homes in blocks of up to 18 storeys high.”