To consider the acquisition of a freehold in Horley.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor M.A. Brunt presented a report that sought authority to acquire a parcel of land near Horley as a strategic investment. It was accompanied with further information set out in the Exempt part of the Executive’s agenda that contained commercially sensitive details for the proposed acquisition.
The Leader emphasised that the opportunity to bid for this land had emerged unexpectedly. As a result the Leader apologised for the late publication of the reports that were presented in an addendum to the Executive’s agenda. However the Leader assured the Executive that the report provided the latest available information and that he and relevant portfolio holders had been consulted in advance on the proposals.
It was noted that the land acquisition opportunity supported future benefits in the local area and presented a potential investment that could provide a future financial return to the Council and support the delivery of wider services.
As a potential strategic investment, the land acquisition was recognised as one with long term benefits and returns, which was recognised as not without risk, but which were considered to be appropriate in relation to the potential future benefits. The Executive were asked to make a judgement on the balance of the proposals based on further detailed risk considerations that had been provided in the exempt section of the Executive’s agenda.
Clerk’s note – At this point in the meeting agenda item 6a (Acquisition of Freehold in Horley) was adjourned so that the exempt information, agenda item 11a (Exempt Business) could be considered ahead of making a decision.
Clerk’s note – The minutes of the meeting reflect the order of business listed on the published agenda, not the order taken during the meeting.
During the exempt discussion, a number of issues were considered, including:
• Information on the land valuation, land conditions, location, timetable, demand and financial implications for the proposed acquisition;
• Process for evaluating the due diligence information including modelling exercises and surveys being conducted;
• Ongoing negotiations and potential benefits regarding the proposed acquisition; and
• An assessment of the risks, alternatives, return on investment and possible exit arrangements.
On conclusion of agenda item 11a the Executive returned to agenda item 6a and
RESOLVED that subject to a satisfactory due diligence, the Head of Legal and Governance, in consultation with the Head of Finance & Assets, Leader of the Council, and Executive Members with responsibility for Place & Economic Prosperity, Finance, and Investment & Companies, be authorised to:
a. acquire the freehold land in Horley, as referred to in the part 2 section of the Executive’s report, as a strategic investment to support the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Plan objectives, and to finalise the Heads of Terms and associated agreements to support the acquisition, in line with the principles and financial requirements of the report.
b. To fund the acquisition and supporting costs from the funding allocated within the approved Capital Programme for 2019/2024 for investment in capital schemes to support delivery of the Corporate Plan, Housing Strategy and Investment Strategy, as set out in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the part 2 section of the report to the Executive.
Reason for decision:
To obtain Executive authority to acquire, subject to due diligence, the specified freehold of land in Horley, which will support the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Plan objectives and provide the potential to generate additional income for the Council.
Investigate alternative models for acquisition of the freehold land or to do nothing.
Note: Councillor V. Lewanski left the room for the consideration of the report.