Barnet Cabinet: 11 August 2009
"To recommend the disposal of the site to the North London Waste Authority."
1.1 That the offer from the North London Waste Authority be accepted for the site, which includes a reserved area of 4.5 Acres for the Council to retain and construct a new depot facility, on the basis set out in the exempt report.
1.2 That the external solicitors be instructed to conclude the contract for the disposal.
2.1 Policy and Implementation Committee, 21 January 1999 – considered the negative outcome of the Council’s application to the London Borough of Haringey for outline planning permission for residential development of the land and instructed officers to invite tender bids for the purchase and development of the land from a selected list of tenderers.3. CORPORATE PRIORITIES AND POLICY CONSIDERATIONS
2.2 Policy and Implementation Committee, 15 September 1999 – considered the results of the tender invitation and approved the acceptance of the subject to planning bid from Costco.
2.3 Cabinet, 16 July 2001 (Decision No. 21) – agreed to sell the freehold interest in the land to B&Q at an adjusted industrial land value with a top-up payment if planning permission for a retail store was obtained.
2.4 Cabinet Resources Committee, 20 February 2003 (Decision no. 4) – considered a revised acquisition offer from B&Q and approved the following:
2.5 Cabinet Resources Committee, 28 July 2004 (Decision No. 5) – agreed the following: Subject to the independent valuer confirming that the offer represents best consideration and to the Cabinet Member for Resources giving final approval under delegated powers on the basis set out in paragraph 5.3 of the report, that the Council enters into a conditional contract with B&Q plc (or a company within the same group) for a reduced area of 8.1 acres, upon the basis set out in the report.
- That, the previous Cabinet decision be rescinded and approval be given to the freehold sale of approximately 11.2 acres of the [site] to B&Q (or a company within the same group) on the basis set out in the report.
- That B&Q be granted licence to enter on to 5.1 acres approximately of the land to carry out decontamination and other site preparation works and that upon completion of these works the Head of Regeneration, working with B&Q, markets the land for freehold sale for B1 development, reporting the offers received to the Cabinet Member for Resources for approval.
- That it be agreed that the Council should enter into any Section 106 Agreement required by the London Borough of Haringey in so far as it relates to the B1 or housing development lands subject to the terms being approved by the Cabinet Member for Resources and to the document being in a form approved by the Borough Solicitor.
2.6 The Leader of the Council by delegated powers, 28 September 2004 – approved the appointment of Drivers Jonas to carry out the independent valuation.
2.7 Cabinet Resources Committee, 21 July 2005 (Decision No. 8) – approved a revised offer from B&Q based on the possibility of part of the site being earmarked for a traveller site under the Haringey UDP.
2.8 Cabinet Resources Committee, 31 October 2007 (Decision No. 4) – resolved that following a revaluation of the site and a revised offer from B&Q, the Council withdraw from the negotiations with B&Q and that the site be remarketed.
2.9 Cabinet Resources Committee, 8 August 2008 (Decision No 6) – resolved to accept the offer from the preferred bidder as identified in the exempt report of the Leader and subject to agreement as to its location to include the provision of a new Council Depot facility in the new development.
2.10 The Leader of the Council by delegated powers (report 701), 28 November 2008 – approved that subject to the completion of all necessary legal and other documentation the Council enter into a Contract with the preferred bidder on the basis of the terms detailed in the exempt report and that the Council agree to include the advertisement sites in the disposal, subject to agreement of an acceptable price with the preferred bidder that satisfies the requirements of section 123 of the Local Government Act. Such terms to be the subject of a separate future report noting the agreed terms.
2.11 Cabinet Resources Committee 19 January 2009 ( Decision No 7 ) resolved:
- That the Committee agrees in principle to the relocation timetable for the existing users of the Mill Hill depot and acknowledges the high level risks identified.
- That the Committee agrees to serve appropriate notice to the current tenants of the Mill Hill depot in order to provide vacate possession by the end of 2009.
- That the Committee agrees to delegate to officers authority to enter into negotiations with ESM Estates in relation to the lease and redevelopment of the temporary accommodation.
- That the Committee instructs officers to report to future meetings of the Committee to approve:
- Lease arrangements with ESM Estates;
- Cost of temporary accommodation refurbishment;
- Cost of Pinkham Way depot advisors and construction;
- Cost and locations for satellite sites.
3.1 The Corporate Plan commits the Council to a priority of “More Choice, Better Value” by delivering value for money across Council services through better use of resources including our assets, staff and technology. The recommendations in this report will do this by achieving a capital receipt to support the Council’s priorities.
3.2 The proposal will further support the Council’s priorities by providing a site to relocate the parking of the Council’s refuse fleet and recycling facility from the present location at Mill Hill Depot. The depot relocation will assist the Council to unlock the development potential of the existing Mill Hill East site which can contribute to the delivery of the Council’s adopted Area Action Plan for high quality residential and mixed use development in accordance with the Council’s priority for A successful city suburb [and shove it into Haringey].
4. RISK MANAGEMENT ISSUES...
4.1 In the above mentioned reports, the Council recognised the risks in accepting bids which were conditional on planning and other matters, such that the highest unconditional bid was accepted. The fall in the housing and property market in general led the preferred bidder to pull out from the unconditional bid and attempt to place similar planning conditions on their bid, which the Council had previously rejected from other higher bidders.
There is a current risk that the new bidders may also fail to come up with the necessary finance to purchase the site, but as they are a public body and control of this site is a pre-requisite for a funding bid for the delivery of the North London waste plan, it is felt that this risk is acceptable.
4.2 It is considered that by accepting this bid, there is a realistic prospect that this disposal will be completed, despite the market conditions within an agreed timescale. With unconditional bids there is still some risk that after exchange of contracts, an issue will be raised or that funding cannot be obtained and that this may delay completion or prompt an attempt to renegotiate the agreed deal. By providing comprehensive ecological survey and legal information to the bidder, officers have been sought to minimise that risk.
The timing of remediation works, submission of the planning application and completion of the site infrastructure have been discussed in detail with the preferred bidder and we believe that there is a realistic probability that the site for the depot construction will be available in early 2012. However, there will always be a risk that the development may be delayed for any one of a number of reasons, and this could delay the relocation from Mill Hill depot site with consequential cost increases to that project.
4.4 There are strategic and financial risks for the Council if this disposal does not proceed. The strategic aim to re-provide a modern depot on the site could be compromised if a capital receipt fails to materialize, and currently the time frame for the development of the new facility at Pinkham Way dovetails with the Area Action Plan and comprehensive redevelopment proposals at Mill Hill East. Should the Pinkham Way disposal and development be delayed, there are operational and financial risks which would result from a forced operational continuation at Mill Hill, and delays to the delivery of the Area Action Plan at Mill Hill East.
4.5 NLWA’s current proposals for Pinkham Way are complimentary to their proposals at Brent Cross Cricklewood, which are supported by the Council. There are risks NLWA proposals may change as the specific waste solutions are worked up. However, at this stage the proposals for Pinkham Way do not cut across the rationale for proposals within the area of the planning application at Brent Cross. [Maybe they do now!]
4.6 It is possible that EU procurement rules may apply to the services required for the production of the necessary Environmental Impact Assessments which are needed for an Outline Planning Application which are attributable to the Council’s retained site for the depot relocation. Further advice will be sought when more detailed costings are available.
9. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
9.1 This site was last used as the Friern Barnet Sewage Works in the 1960s and has remained virtually unused since.
9.2 The Council resolved to sell the freehold of the site in 1999 and an offer was accepted from Costco. This transaction did not proceed and in 2001 it was resolved to accept an offer from B&Q. Despite several revisions to the B&Q offer, contracts were not exchanged and in July 2007, Drivers Jonas were asked to undertake a fresh valuation of the site.
9.3 Following that revaluation and an amended offer from B&Q, Cabinet Resources Committee resolved on 31 October 2007 to withdraw from the negotiations with B&Q and remarket the site.
9.4 Drivers Jonas were instructed in November 2007 to market the freehold comprising a total of approx. 16.7 acres as identified on the plan (see Appendix).
9.5 A detailed marketing pack was prepared including full environmental surveys commissioned by the Council and information on the Council’s freehold title.
9.6 Details of the Council’s requirement for approx. 3.25 acres to relocate Depot facilities from Mill Hill Depot were included and bidders were invited to make offers with or without this requirement.
9.7 Transport for London’s (TfL) requirement for a minimum of 3 acres for a new bus depot was also included and bidders were asked to state whether this requirement would be accommodated. This requirement has subsequently been confirmed at 3.5 acres.
9.8 Considerable interest has been shown in the site although the final number of offers received has undoubtedly been affected by a downturn in the property market and the reduced availability of funding.
["Hemployment"?] use (B1, B2 and B8 uses) subject to no adverse effect on the nature conservation value of the site. Retail warehousing was also indicated as a possibility subject to satisfying the ‘sequential approach’ as advised in PPS6 ‘Planning for Town Centres’. Food retailing and residential use was unlikely to be favourably received. However, a mixed use scheme, that has a mix of the above uses but with a high level of employment generation would be considered. Despite the content of the planning statement, several bids were received which were conditional on specific planning consent that did not follow the guidelines suggested in the planning statement.
9.10 Environmental and ecological surveys were undertaken prior to marketing, and the results were included in the information pack provided to bidders. LB Haringey have indicated that they will require further more detailed surveys, particularly in relation to environmental matters, which will be required to support any planning application made for the site.
9.11 The preferred bidder placed unacceptable conditions on the continued progress of the disposal in March 2009. The Council has since undertaken a series of meetings with LB Haringey’s planners, and interested parties. LB Haringey’s planners expressed a view that the site, as a grade 1 site of local ecological importance, would require a considerable proportion of the site to be left for ecological use, and that detailed ecological surveys would be needed in any assessment for a planning application.
9.12 The Council’s strategic aim to provide a new depot on the site and to dispose of the remainder of the site at best consideration has been maintained, following the breakdown of the deal with the previous preferred bidder. The Council has undertaken work to define more precisely the costs of re-provisioning the depot on the site and further ecology surveys to enable an informed planning application to go forward.
9.13 The Council undertook a full range of Surveys over the late spring and early summer, to cover reptiles, bats and plant species.
9.14 The Council also undertook to fence off the stand of giant hogweed and embark on a spraying programme against that noxious weed.
9.15 Following on from discussions with interested parties since March 2009, NLWA have made the offer which is the subject of this report.
9.16 The provision of a high quality waste and recycling process facility at Pinkham Way forms a complementary part of the NLWA’s site acquisitions and procurement strategy submitted in its Outline Business Case to DEFRA in May 2009. It would assist in delivering waste solutions to North London and help to facilitate the development at Mill Hill in accordance with the 'Area Action Plan'.[That AAP of land usage was, incidentally, produced BEFORE Barnet's 'Core Strategy', so wider issues like transport for the AAP area "could not be challenged".
Later, when the borough's Core Strategy WAS considered, it was not allowed to challenge transport issues within the Mill Hill East and Colindale AAPs, or the Brent Cross Cricklewood 'Supplementary Planning Guidance' - because "they had already been determined"!
Corruption that is par for the course in Broken Barnet].