Mon, 24 Oct 2016
CASH-strapped West Berkshire Council is set to receive £1.2m in car parking revenue from Parkway developer Standard Life Investments (SLI) ‘within weeks’.
Before construction began at Parkway, the council sold public land to SLI for £1 on the basis that a fee of around £300,000 was received in parking revenue each year.
However, the council has yet to receive a single penny owing to its ongoing dispute with the developer over the affordable homes at Parkway.
In 2008, West Berkshire Council paid £900,000 of taxpayers’ money to SLI to ensure that 37 of the 147 homes being built at Parkway were affordable.
The 37 units were completed in early 2013, but were still unoccupied at the start of 2016 as SLI had not appointed a social housing provider to manage them.
After growing tired of SLI’s delays, the council refused to transfer ownership of the land until the issue was resolved and took the unprecedented step of blocking the sale of new private homes.
But the council’s tough stance came at a cost.
The council said that before the car parking money can be exchanged, a land transfer must take place between the two parties, but that this cannot be done until the agreement for the affordable homes is signed off.
However, SLI has repeatedly contradicted that claim, saying that the car parking revenue was not linked to the affordable homes, and blamed the council for the delay.
In August 2015, SLI announced that it had finally exchanged contracts with One Housing Group – a leading developer and provider of homes and housing in London and the South East.
Now SLI has completed the contract for the affordable homes, the council says it will immediately stop blocking the sale of private homes.
The land transfer from West Berkshire Council to SLI can then take place and, as a result, the council will receive four years-worth of car parking income, worth in the region of £1m.
This week a spokesman for West Berkshire Council, Martin Dunscombe, said: “Around half the affordable homes at Parkway are occupied.
“We expect to receive the money in the next few weeks; it will be four years worth of money at around £300,000 per year.”