The purchase of land including a car dealership in a South Yorkshire town has taken West Lindsey District Council’s commercial property spending to more than £20 million.
The council leader, however, says the spend is bringing in much-needed money for the authority and performing better than had been hoped.
Evans Halshaw currently leases three buildings on the land the authority has bought the freehold for on Wheatley Road, Doncaster, at a cost of £5.35 million.
The purchase brings the total spend by West Lindsey since April 2017 to £20.355 million, nearly £10 million off the original £30 million budgeted.
Council leader Councillor Giles McNeill, who signed off on the deal in May, said the land was “acquired at a reasonable price”.
He said the return on the council’s investments so far was “greater than expected,” bringing in £1.7 million of ongoing potential income – the original target was £1 million.
“It’s actually doing a really good job and we’re making more money than we expected which is a good thing because it shows we are pragmatic and we are cautious,” he explained.
The list of properties bought by West Lindsey District Council now includes:
• A hotel on Bradford Road, Keighley, leased by Travelodge, for £2.35 million
• 43 Penistone Road, Sheffield, leased by Better Gym, for £2.455 million
• Unit 7 Drake House, Sheffield, leased by Panache Lingerie, for £3 million
• Unit 5 on Sanders Road, Gainsborough, leased by Coveris Flexibles, for £6.1 million
• Unit 1, in Heaton Street, Gainsborough, leased by Boyes, at £1.1 million
The council has also set aside £1 million as a safety precaution to mitigate against any changes such as businesses moving out.
Coun McNeill said the authority had a “gold standard of cautiousness” towards secure purchases with a 14-item checklist of measures.
The leader is confident the purchases will help combat more than £4 million of cuts from central government.
He said the council had clawed £2.3 million of it back through efficiency savings, while the commercial plan, which also included things like green bin charges and car park targets, had delivered £1.7 million.
He suggested an 18 per cent hike in council tax might otherwise have been needed to meet the gap.
He added all parties on the council had scrutinised the commercial plan in the yearly budgets and there had been cross-party consent.