To agree to the freehold disposal of KCC’s interest in the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office and Cantium House and delegate authority to:
1. The Director of Infrastructure in consultation with the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate and Traded Services, to finalise the contractual terms of the disposal.
2. The Director of Infrastructure to authorise the execution of necessary contractual and land agreements required to implement the above.
Reason for the decision
Property disposal in line with Council’s s.123 best consideration obligations and over £1million which requires a key decision.
Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council jointly acquired the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office site from the Royal Mail in Sept 2016, on an equal 50/50 basis (see KCC decision 15/00069).
The primary long-term objective was to masterplan and facilitate the delivery of a comprehensive, high quality, mixed use scheme to include the adjoining Cantium House (office owned by KCC) and the Maidstone East Station car parks (owned by Network Rail).
Maidstone Borough Council’s current Local Plan, adopted in 2017, allocated the combined Former Royal Mail Sorting Office, Cantium House & National Rail commuter car park site for comprehensive retail led development.
Through the Kent County Council/Maidstone Borough Council partnership and stakeholder engagement, the Council has corporately promoted the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office and Cantium House sites through the planning system to deliver a residential led, mixed use allocation (with the option of a new civic office and health element, if required) independent of the adjacent Network Rail land releasing it from various delivery constraints.
A number of options were considered as to how the partnership best take forward the masterplan which included:
Option 1 – KCC to sell its 50% stake of the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office plus its freehold interest in Cantium House to Maidstone Borough Council.
Option 2 – KCC to acquire Maidstone Borough Council’s 50% stake of the Former Royal Mail Sorting Office Site.
Option 3 – KCC/MBC to continue to work in partnership to deliver a scheme through to practical completion (direct development or via securing a development partner).
Following consideration, it is recommended KCC sell its interest in the project to Maidstone Borough Council and focus its resources within its own Estate, whilst continuing to work collaboratively in the context of the wider Town Centre Strategy Masterplan.
How does the proposed decision meets the objectives of ‘Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes: Kent County Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020)’ - Securing a capital receipt to fund the capital programme and to streamline the Council’s property portfolio to achieve financial and efficiency benefits in line with appropriate policy.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: For Determination
Division affected: Maidstone Central; Maidstone North East;
Notice of proposed decision first published: 16/09/2021
Anticipated restriction: Part exempt -
Explanation of anticipated restriction:
The sale price and other financial information of a commercially sensitive nature will be contained in a separate report, exempt from publication under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972.
Decision due: Not before 15th Oct 2021 by Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate and Traded Services
Reason: in order that the proposed decision can be published for a minimum of 28 days, in accordance with statutory requirements
Lead member: Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate and Traded Services
Lead director: Rebecca Spore
Department: Strategic & Corporate Services
The issue was discussed at Policy and Resources Cabinet Committee on 22nd September 2021 and the proposed decision endorsed.
Financial implications: anticipated capital receipt over £1m in line with Council’s s.123 best consideration obligations following an open marketing process. The sale of the property will result in a capital receipt for KCC which will be used to support the Council’s Capital Programme.
Legal implications: Legal documentation will be actioned to implement the sale.
Equalities implications: N/A