Conservative councillors are accusing Preston City Council of ‘giving away’ prime development land in the city.Advertisement
Six plots of land scattered across Preston are to be handed over to the Community Gateway Association.
Councillor Bobby Cartwright, who represents the College ward in Fulwood, said she wanted to highlight a raw deal for taxpayers.
In a joint leaflet with councillor Harry Seddon, she writes: “Preston’s Labour Cabinet are giving away six parcels of land to Gateway Housing Association for NOTHING.”
The market value of the sites in Parker Street, Tulketh Road, Church Avenue, Coniston Avenue, Meadow Street and Chapman Road comes out as £230,000 – according to a council report.
One of the sites, Chapman Road, which sits in the College ward, has a market value of £100,000.
Cllr Cartwright continues: “This will also result in a loss of Council Tax/New Homes Bonus of around £7,000 per year.”
A report to the city council’s cabinet, tabled in September last year, outlines how up to 19 new affordable homes could be built. It also indicates an immediate financial loss of more than £4,000 to the city council
In return to transferring the land to Community Gateway the council is to receive back ownership of Truro Place, or Paul’s Pad, in Fishwick.
The land has planning permission for 18 affordable homes but as part of the Fishwick and St Matthews local plan it is due to become a recreational area.
The city council intends to hand over Truro Place to the Friends of Fishwick and St Matthews group once a legal entity has been formed to allow the transfer.
Councillor Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for finance and who also represents the Fishwick ward, said the deal was good value.
He said: “The land at Truro Place had planning permission for 18 properties, against the wishes of the residents of that area due to the lack of green space in St. Matthews, which is the most densely populated area of Preston. The area also suffers the worst health indicators in Preston.
“Preston Council offered CGA six small parcels of land that were surplus to requirements, as an alternative site for these properties, in order that the land at Truro Place could become permanent local green space.”
Cllr Rawlinson went on to refute claims by the Tories regarding the loss in council tax income.
He said: “The swap allows the same number of properties to be built, so there is no loss of potential income to the taxpayer through council tax or new homes bonus.
“The Cabinet decided to forfeit capital receipts for the parcels of land in order to allow the provision of vital affordable housing that the city needs and the creation of a quality green space in one of the most deprived wards in England.
“Funding to make the land at Truro Place a useable green space is already available through the Friends of Fishwick & St, Matthews Big Local scheme and will have no further financial implications for the taxpayer.
“Preston Council, who created CGA ten years ago, is committed to helping increase affordable housing in the city, built in the right place, within our limited resources.
“This is a good deal for the city and will have no impact on any other scheme or the council’s overall financial position.”
What do you think of the deal? Do you live near any of the sites? Let us know in the comments below